Sunday, October 16, 2011

What's The Good Word

"Remedial Chaos Theory" is the first great episode of Community this season--an instant classic.  The complex plot should have been hard to pull off in 20 minutes of screentime, but it all clicked.

The idea is the gang comes to a housewarming party for Troy and Abed's new pad.  Jeff tosses a die to determine who goes downstairs to pick up the pizza. In doing so, as Abed notes, Jeff is creating six different timelines, and messing with their world.  Actually, there's a seventh timeline, where Abed catches the die to prevent chaos and makes Jeff get the pizza.

We get to see all seven timelines.  The same things often happen (Jeff hits his head on the fan, the Indiana Jones rock is let loose, Pierce makes a joke about sex with Eartha Kitt), but with telling variations, showing what happens when you remove one member of the group.

What's most interesting is when Jeff is gone. He's the leader of the group, not to mention the nominal lead of the ensemble cast.  Yet we see he's poison.  His mocking ways, and control over others, often makes them feel bad and prevents them from showing their true feelings.  So with him out for just a little while, everyone is happiest. (Meanwhile, when Troy--the sweetest, most trusting member--is gone, there's complete disaster.)

Of course, Abed, the meta character on the show, is the only one to recognize the different timelines.  In fact, in the Troy timeline, where everything falls apart, Abed decides the group should grow goatees and become evil versions of themselves, get back to the prime timeline, kill their doppelgangers, and take over.

Actually, I wasn't planning to write about the episode, but there was something odd I noticed on the closed captioning.  There's a moment when the gang is shouting imprecations at Jeff.  We see all the lines faithfully reproduced on screen...until I read "asshole" but didn't hear anyone say it.  I even replayed the scene and couldn't catch it.

I'm never sure if the captioner just listens and write what she hears, or if she's given a script to follow.  But I like the idea of someone at the keyboard just fed up with Jeff and throwing in an "asshole" of her own.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now the show can split into seven different series. All low rated.

2:54 AM, October 16, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm kind of worried. All the shows I like are low rated and short lived. Although ironically enough I do like Big Bang Theory, but I never watch it. I only happened to watch the entire series on a flight from Shanghai to Chicago.

6:42 AM, October 16, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Britta sort of said something like "asshole" but it was tough to make out. Maybe she couldn't be too clear because I don't think they allow that word on TV.

9:48 AM, October 16, 2011  
Blogger New England Guy said...

I thought I heard "asshole" in an ad for a new cop show 2-3 years ago- I think it was canceled after 3 episodes and I can't remember the name but I was able to access the ad online (Did Obama get the FCC to loosen up? I was hoping)and after wasting far too much time replaying it, I determined they didn't say "asshole" but had created enough background noise and vocal inflections to make you think they had. Clever dicks those TV dudes.

6:42 PM, October 16, 2011  
Blogger New England Guy said...

Actually thinking about hearing "asshole" on TV, a]]made me write about this before and it happened a couple weeks before Obama took office (maybe FCC was anticipating a golden age of cursing)

6:52 PM, October 16, 2011  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I still remember when I first heard "son of a bitch" on LA Law. The die had been cast.

7:40 PM, October 16, 2011  
Blogger New England Guy said...

They actually used "son of a bitch" many years earlier in "M*A*S*H" but it was in one of Hawkeye's very serious moments on the nature and futility of war (i.e not in a joke like "Wow Frank Burns is real son of a bitch")

5:14 AM, October 17, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Captain, I find your tone offensive"

"I'll tell you what's offensive you son of a bitch, this kid's wounds!"

That's telling him, Hawkeye.

8:54 AM, October 17, 2011  

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