Good evening, Communies! I would have had this up sooner, but my computer froze up on me earlier—possibly Willie Garson's fault, I'm looking into it—and Semagic's automatic Save Draft feature didn't save as much as I would have hoped. Anyway! I thought "Contemporary Impressionists" was quite good: not necessarily a laff riot, Dean Pelton's collapse and Brittta's moonwalking notwithstanding, but effective at setting up the back half of the season—I am genuinely worried about Abed's mental health at this point—and proving once again that this show's true strength is in keeping its characters real even when they're in the middle of an outlandish situation. But who cares what I think? Let's get roundupping!
- The Head Geek at Geek Furious has been "crazy sick" this week, but still found the strength to post a short review. "Even sick as a filthy dog I laughed outloud several times. In fact, it was just about the only thing that made me feel good last night." He also said that if he had to rate it episode, he'd give it a 92 out of 100, but leaves unanswered the question of what he'd give it if he didn't have to rate it.
- Ethan Alter writes in Television Without Pity's Telefile blog that "Contemporary Impressionists" was a "potentially funny idea executed in a disappointing way, surprise appearance by Evil Abed in the closing moments notwithstanding." But he points to Evil Abed's appearance as an example of what he sees as a larger problem with Community this season: "the show used to address [the characters' flaws] in far more inventive and amusing ways. In both last week's return from hiatus and this installment, the humor has been overshadowed by a more dramatic edge that largely falls flat." (Full disclosure: I'm wearing a TWoP "Here comes the boot!" tee-shirt right now.)
- Alyssa Rosenberg of ThinkProgress "didn’t particularly like this episode of Community," but it's hard to tease out exactly what she didn't like about it. I don't think she was particularly fond of the concept of Abed getting addicted to hiring celebrity impersonators, but she did like the idea underlying the episode: "that one of the hardest parts of having adult friendships is figuring out the moments when you have to push a friend rather than simply enjoy or enable them, and that sometimes friendships that have served you well in the past don’t work any more." She also devotes a paragraph to explaining why Annie and Troy make more sense together than Annie and Jeff, and since I posting this here instead of at milady_milord, I shall refrain from further comment.
- Sean Gandert of Paste Magazine also had something of a problem with the initial premise, calling it flimsy and hard to believe given how we've seen Abed behave in past episodes. "Yes, he’s eccentric and has had issues facing reality before, but he still functions as a human in society." (This roundupper would suggest that becoming obsessed with celebrity impersonators is not out of line for someone recently seen roleplaying as Batman and fixating on parallel Earths and alternate timelines, and that taken together they might be seen as signs of an incipient dissociative break.) That said, he liked the episode, and gave a rating of 8.9 out of 10. He thought that seeing Jeff hulk out was fun, but really liked the Britta/Jeff and Troy/Abed scenes that followed it. "These endings bode well. I’m always looking for Community to allow its characters growth that doesn’t disappear at the end of an episode, and if the show is actually willing to devote lengthy plot arcs (relatively speaking) to these changes, then hopefully that will be the case."
- Luke Gelineau of TV Equals liked "Contemporary Impressionists" more than last week's episode, which he felt sacrificed humor for the sake of making Shirley's relationship with Andre seem more dramatic. But he also admits that he doesn't think Shirley is a funny character, so of course he would think her storyline last week wasn't very funny. He singled out Dean Pelton's reaction to Jeff's anti-anxiety medication-enhanced good looks as "one of the funniest bits of physical comedy I’ve ever seen on this show."
- Noted Community panel moderator Alan Sepinwall took it a step further, writing in his HitFix review that the Dean's reaction was "one of the single funniest things the show has ever done. Period." As for the episode as a whole, he allowed that it was not "a conceptual masterpiece like 'Remedial Chaos Theory' nor even as consistently funny as last week's episode," but that it nevertheless was "a good character piece presented in an unexpected way, and with enough laughs (the costumes, Jeff basking in his awesomeness, etc.) to work"
- Matt Richenthal of TV Fanatic gave the episode a rating of 4.3 out of 5.0. "Incredibly, it can interweave a realistic, serious step in the friendship between Abed and Troy with celebrity lookalikes, Chang taking on a young security detail and Dean Pelton crying out in admiring pain at Jeff's aviator-themed shadow."
- Andrew Lumby of The Filtered Lens praised the structure of the episode and how skillfully it welded "several different storylines into a single cogent narrative." But he thought it was "a little bit weak on the jokes," both in that there wasn't enough of them, and in that too many of them were quick visual gags. He rated it 7 out of 10.
- Brian Collins writes in his review for Badass Digest, "While far from a bad episode, this one doesn't quite hit the mark with the laughs as well as last week's." He also felt that the time spent advancing the Chang Rises storyline was time that would've been better spent on the study group, specifically citing Annie's minimal presence at the bar mitzvah as evidence. He further complained that the episode seemed front-loaded: "it starts strong but ultimately loses focus, and kind of ends on a downer note." (To which this roundupper must say, "kind of"?)
- The gang at the Rockford Register Star's weekly Community podcast was divided: Chris Soprych "loved the return to the wackier, more out-there" style of episode, while Melissa Westphal preferred the more "down-to-earth take" featured last week. Soprych and Will Pfeifer enthused over Jeff's Hulk moment, particularly the way Jeff was shown walking down the road with ripped pants and the music from the old Incredible Hulk TV series. (It's worth noting that Soprych and Pfeifer are possibly the nerdiest reviewers out there: they called Evil Abed "Mirror, Mirror Abed," referring to the classic Star Trek episode that introduced the idea that evil counterparts wear goatees.)
- Carl Cortez of Assignment X said the episode felt like a misfire, which he think will occurs from time to time when "a show continually takes chances and pushes the envelope." He was intrigued by the scene in the Dreamatorium and laughed occasionally, but on the whole he thought the episode was "not up to the high standards fans have to expect from Community.
- Derek B. Gayle of KSiteTV liked the Troy/Abed storyline and "really, really liked Donald Glover in his last scene with Abed; it was an abnormally quiet and serious scene, but it worked and Glover did admirably." He was less fond of Jeff's storyline: "while Jeff’s story was certainly well-integrated into the plot, his crazy hulk rage just felt out of place with the rest of the tone."
- Writing at ScreenCrave, Laura Aguirre gave "Contemporary Impressionism" a rating of 8 out of 10. She lists various good and bad points of the episode, but I'm not exactly clear whether she didn't like the points she lists as having been bad, or whether she's just pointing out that Troy and Abed's strained relationship and the reappearance of Evil Abed are bad things. Regardless, she found it "quite amusing" to see Jeff make out with Shirley.
- Robert Canning of IGN TV… Well, I'm just going to quote the whole first paragraph of his review, because it's just that good. "Well, that was a fun little over-the-top display of goofiness… punctuated with some real human emotion to keep everything grounded. "Contemporary Impressionists" could have been a fun throwaway episode, but Community is always making sure there's some growth and character development going on underneath. It's why we regard the series so highly. It's as funny as it is smart as it is touching." Testify!
- Matthew of polentical.com thought the first half of the episode was "significantly stronger than the second half, which seems to peter out early." An aside: polentical.com describes itself as a site dedicated to "progressive politics and regressive entertainment." What is it with left-leaning sites like ThinkProgress and Salon reviewing Community? Part of me feels like I should look for a review on NRO or Fox Nation or something, but as the icon suggests it's not a very strong feeling.
- We'll wrap up this week with Todd VanDerWerrf of the A.V. Club, who gave the episode a B, which is like a D+ as far as his Community reviews are concerned. (His lowest grade for a Community episode was the C+ he gave to "Advanced Criminal Law." ) He said it "[wasn't] an awful episode of Community, but it’s one of the season’s weaker efforts." Like several other reviewers, he felt the third act was significantly weaker than the first two. He goes a step further by noting this has been a problem all season, though he also says many modern sitcoms suffer the same problem. He goes into great detail about his reading of the tension between the tension between Troy and Abed, which he attributes to Abed's inability to "grow up and stop living in a fantasy world." I don't fully agree with his interpretation, but it's a good read so check it out.
Ratingswise, the show fell to a 1.7 in the 18-49 demo, dropping half a percentage point from last week. On the other hand, it pulled a 2.1 in the 18-34 demo, once again beating Idol in its timeslot, and was NBC's highest-rated show last night. So go ahead and have that Ratings Donut! (I did!)
Thanks for reading! I know there are plenty of reviews I didn't mention, so please post any additional ones you've seen in the comments!
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