Community: Paranormal Parentage (S4E2)

    Well, this is better than last weeks, and that’s a start.
    “Paranormal Parentage,” which still doesn’t at all feel like the Community of the last three seasons, is, if nothing else, a lot closer to something concrete, and more importantly, good. The season premiere was a bit of a mess, struggling to find its footing, or even its feet, and it was certainly one of the more worrisome half-hours of TV I’ve ever experienced.
    This episode was much less so.
    Fully embracing its ridiculousness was the first of many good steps in the right direction. I assume that this show was initially scheduled to come out around Halloween, and I really love that they ran with it despite its irrelevance. It worked, coincidentally, to establish the show’s ability to lose itself in its own world. And for that, I do have to commend the new writers.
    I also commend the costume choices, both in concept and pairing, and, though it’s rather obvious, they were still effectively used to convey where the characters are in their lives now, and who is really the most important to whom. The best decision, of course, being that Troy and Abed still dressed up together, instead of Troy and Britta.
    The entire episode, much like many of Harmon’s, served as an outlandish, indulgent parody of popular culture. In this case: Scooby Doo. Conceptually, I have to say it was rather brilliant, as the initial problem stems from a jealous Pierce, who was not invited to the holiday party the group was planning to attend, calling Troy to tell him that he was locked in his panic room and needed their help to get out.
    The ludicrousness of Hawthorne mansion is delightful, and the end result, that Pierce set up an elaborate fake haunted house in order to trick his friends, was equally such. The episode found its placement best with Troy and Shirley inside of Pierce’s sex dungeon, and though it’s rather far fetched that a star high school quarterback (which is, at least, what Troy began as), could be so blissfully sexually ignorant, it was wonderful to see Shirley’s reaction to Troy believing that Pierce had been hiding some sort of playground from him. Seeing Shirley react in the way that she did showed that the writers, though they may have missed it last week, understand how to write that character well.
    The episode’s important moments all come at the end, with multiple emotional beats being played on. Some are rather effective and some much less so, but overall, the show earned what it took. The best moment takes place between Britta and Troy, where what starts out as a clear hint at Britta sexually corrupting her new boyfriend, turns into something truly innocent and rather adorable: Britta just wanting to watch Inspector Spacetime so she knows more about what her friends are interested in. A lot of time is spent with Jeff and Britta, where Britta tries to use her community college psychology skills to get Jeff to open up about his father, and while almost every second that it happened in the middle of the episode was plainly terrible, the moment at the end where Jeff finally dials his father is powerful enough to wipe most that away.
    The moment that really didn’t work for me comes between Pierce and Gilbert. Their resolution was too contrived and weak for me to really buy into it, especially after the epic jackassery that happened between the two of them last season. It was going to take a lot for them to earn a resolution between the two, and that definitely didn’t happen this episode.
    The thing that I still can’t wrap my head around is what I’m going to refer to as The Curious Case of Abed. Last week he was very much the only character the show had a grasp on, but this week felt quite the opposite. To me, he seemed almost reduced to his most notable parts. His love for Cougar Town and watching things instead of experiencing them took a violently literal turn this week, and aside from a few well-done gags between him and Annie, he was nearly completely useless in the episode. I’m beginning to fear that he’s going to be used too frequently as a way for the staff to make meta comments about the series, and it’s going to lose its edge rather quickly. For now it’s a small concern, but it could certainly balloon.
    Community as we have it now will never be what it was. If it has a new direction I can accept that, but, even after this weeks tighter episode, it still feels like it’s mostly floating in the wind. It’s only fair to give it at least a couple more weeks to gets its feet on the ground, but the clock is ticking, especially if it wants to get a renewal.


I'm fairly certain that this idea for an episode in Pierce's mansion has been around since Harmon's days. I liked it quite a bit, but due to that fact I am still weary of the future of Community. I actually loved how Abed was written. The second I saw him checking each book on the shelves to see if it would trigger a doorway I thought it was perfect, but I feel like it would have been better maybe if it hadn't actually worked and they made him doing stuff like that a running gag throughout the episode.