John Heaton (jheaton) wrote in community_tv,
John Heaton

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Review roundup for 2x21, Paradigms of Human Memory

Good afternoon, Communies! myr_soleil is ridin' on that midnight train to Georgia, so once again I've been tapped to do a thoroughly inadequate job filling in for her. It was a lot of fun reading through all these reviews, because they were uniformly positive. That's the best kind of review, one that reinforces and validates your own opinion. Let's go in alphabetical order this week. I'll also make note of what production still each review used to illustrate the article.

  • The anonymous reviewer at The TV Obsessed was worried going in--"Was this something to trim the budget? Had the writers run out of ideas?"--but found the episode "nothing short of brilliant." He gave it a score of 9.6 out of a possible 10. (no images)
  • Daniel Carlson of the Houston Press Art Attack Blog, on the other hand, was not worried: "while for any other series the prospect of a clip show would be dull and disappointing, Community has proven time and again that it's smarter than that." And he wasn't disappointed: "Sure, the episode revisited some high points from the season, but it did so with a freshness and humor that underscored just how smart, funny, and great Community can be." (Jeff and Troy in barber class)
  • Emily Cheever of ...ology and Alison Dingeldein of the Los Angeles Times Show Tracker Blog don't review the show so much as recap it, but Cheever called the Dean's montage of study room entrances "excellent." (The group in straitjackets for both)
  • Kona Gallagher of CliqueClaque liked the fake flashbacks, but said, "the real comedy for me came at the end of the episode. First, there was Chang and Annie’s Boobs’ montage that consisted solely of Annie’s Boobs smacking Chang in the head over and over again (do you think that sentence is going to get us some awesome traffic from Google?), then there was the Dean cartoon, which is pretty much the greatest cartoon that has ever happened." (Abed, Troy, and Pierce painting the nursery)
  • Andy Greenwald of Vulture called the episode "Community’s attempt to have it all: It was a funny episode of a sitcom about the nature of sitcoms; it commented directly on the up-and-down intricacies of the show’s sophomore season while also adding significantly to its honor roll of world-class zingers, and, in an attempt to please all possible demographics, it featured both Britta and Chang stripped to their skivvies." He also calls it "impressively clever." (The Dean in his baroque outfit)
  • Jason Hughes of TV Squad liked the episode, but the thing that really grabbed me about his review was the sense that about halfway through it he forgot the St. Patrick's Day raft trip wasn't from a real episode. Speaking of Abed's flashbacks to Jeff and Britta's illicit relationship, he says, "Another teased the St. Patrick's Day rafting disaster while the third was at the Halloween party. Each brought us additional moments in these days rather than rehashing old scenes." I know it's probably just sloppy writing, but still. (The group in front of the Habitat house, Pierce shooting up, and Abed finding Jeff and Britta in flagrante delicto. Interestingly, all three appear to be actual screencaps, not official promotional shots.)
  • Jeffrey Kirkpatrick of TV Fanatic thought "Paradigms of Human Memory" was a return to form for the show, which he feels "has missed the mark a lot in its second season." But he kept tuning in for its "impeccable use of meta," so he liked that this episode "piled the meta references onto a large, hydraulic pedestal, shone a huge LED spotlight on them before loading them into a giant circus cannon and shooting them directly through the television screen into the faces of all its roughly four million viewers." He gave it a rating of 4.8 of 5. (Straitjackets)
  • Michelle St. James of Daemon's TV says, "humor-wise, this episode definitely hits its mark. The many spoofs and barbs are all hilariously on target and as always, some of the funniest moments come when Community makes fun of itself or when the characters are skewered." She particularly loved Dean Pelton's montage, and calls the tag "genius." (Straitjackets)
  • Alan Sepinwall of HitFix says, "the execution [of the fake flashback structure] was pretty flawless. It made fun of the general idea of clip shows, and then made fun of various sitcom tropes - and specific Community tropes - within that." He "laughed heartily throughout this episode," enjoying both the audacity of the structure and the jokes themselves. He particularly liked the group's reaction to Chang diving into the vent, the "lyrics" to the glee club song, Jeff's romantic Heimlich of Annie, and the tag in its entirety. (Straitjackets)
  • Kelsea Stahler of says the episode was "exponentially more hilarious than so many others," attributing that to the "clip show format [that] allowed for more rapid succession of jokes." She also called it "smart, pointed, well-written," giving special praise to the writers's commitment to the format and their "going off the deep end" in terms of meta. (Straitjacket)
  • Drew Stewart of Television Blend observes that "amongst TV patrons, there is the group [of] people who are vaguely aware of Community’s existence, and there are people who sound like freaks as they enthusiastically sing the show’s praises to the first group." He cops to being part of the latter group, and wonders if "Paradigms" might be aimed at such a small audience that when he talks about it at the water cooler today, he'll be met with even more blank stares than usual. (Jeff's speech saving Pierce from thje drug runners)

    (Incidentally, let me address something both Stewart and Sepinwall mentioned: that the fake clip show was not a new idea because Clerks: The Animated Series did one in their second episode. But that series was broadcast out of order (something we Communies can relate to, amirite?) so most of what people assumed were new clips were actually clips from an episode that hadn't aired yet. And, in fact, didn't air at all until more than two years later, by which time traumatic amnesia had wiped any memory of the show from the minds of all but the most rabid and indiscriminate View Askew fans.)
  • Todd VanDerWerff of the Onion A.V. Club says that "Paradigms" didn't have the heart of many of Community's best episodes, but that "in some episodes, it can get away with just being exceedingly clever. This is one of those cases." He concedes that there is an emotional storyline present, he considers it secondary to "the massive, massive wave of jokes. There are visual gags here. There are pop culture gags. There are quick one-liners. There’s a monkey hitting Chang on the head while 'Gravity' plays." For that, for committing the time and money necessary to create a fake clip show, and for the "ridiculously fun structure," he concludes, "'Paradigms Of Human Memory' reminded me of just why I’m so happy we’ve had this season of this show." (Straitjackets)

Preliminary overnights gave "paradigms" a 1.5 rating, but in the final overnight ratings it dropped a tenth of a point to its customary 1.4 rating. Alas. On the other hand, we're renewed so who cares. And our small but loyal audience is no doubt a big part of why last night's episode contained an homage to a fanvid. You think you're going to see something like that on Glee?

Tags: -ep2.21-paradigms-of-human-memory, media, review roundup

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