Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Community, "Introduction to Statistics": I don't know what a Mexican Halloween is, but I bet it's lewder than an Alabama Hot Pocket

'Wherever there are masks, wherever there's tomfoolery and joy, I'm there. But sometimes I'm not 'cause I'm out in the night, staying vigilant. Watching. Lurking. Running. Jumping. Hurtling. Sleeping. No, I can't sleep. You sleep. I'm awake. I don't sleep. I don't blink. Am I a bird? No. I'm a bat. I am Batman. Or am I? Yes, I am Batman. Happy Halloween.'
I would have raved about Community's Halloween episode on Twitter or here on Blogspot on the night it aired, but I wasn't able to post about it until now because I was computerless all last week (thanks, creaky old PC--which stands for Piece o' Chit--for dying on me the week before and causing me to look like yet another Filipino who's late for everything, like this Halloween ep). "Introduction to Statistics" is so terrific it'll be staying in my DVR for a while. It's the funniest of the four Halloween eps NBC aired last Thursday night, as well as my favorite Community ep so far, thanks to elements ranging from Danny Pudi's side-splitting impression of Christian Bale's Batman to a B-plot about Shirley's divorce that allowed Yvette Nicole Brown to shine both comedically and dramatically.

In fact, everyone in the ensemble--including "Star-Burns"--got a chance to shine during "Statistics," which was written by Jon Pollack and Tim Hobert. I especially liked seeing Ken Jeong dial it down a bit as Señor Chang in this ep (shouting at the top of his lungs at his students every week was getting old). Did Donald Glover's Troy get his Delirious-era Eddie Murphy costume (complete with fake mic) from the same shop where J.D. and Turk copped their Eddie Murphy: Raw jumpsuits during Hobert's earlier series Scrubs? Gillian Jacobs looks so tiny inside the dowdy squirrel costume that Britta amusingly wears as a statement against slutty costumes (during the Community pilot, I was surprised to learn she's petite--I thought she was 5-foot-10 when I first saw her appear as a stripper in the TV spots for Choke). Too bad frequent guest star John Oliver was missing from the proceedings because I would have liked to have seen him somehow work in his Daily Show impression of a Long Island Guido.

The biggest surprise about "Statistics" was that it was directed by Justin Lin, whose indie work (Better Luck Tomorrow, Finishing the Game) I find way more interesting than his Fast and the Furious sequels, which I've never bothered to watch. One thing I've dug about Community as a single-camera comedy is that it has eschewed the mockumentary format of The Office and Parks and Recreation and opted for a more cinematic approach, particularly in sweeping crane shots of the Greendale Community College campus that would have made Johnny LaRue cream his pants. Because of Lin's involvement, "Statistics" is the most cinematic ep of the series so far. The strapping-a-camera-to-an-actor's-chest-to-simulate-a-bender trick during the Chevy Chase "tripping balls" sequence is reminiscent of Better Luck (I know, it's a camera trick that's been around since Mean Streets). And just when I thought I had my fill of Dark Knight parodies, "Statistics" pulled me back in. The director perfectly aped cinematographer Wally Pfister's camera angles from the film (I don't know who writes Community's original score music, but whoever does it nailed the essence of Hans Zimmer's Batman theme). Lin is a great addition to the series, so I was jazzed to find out from his You Offend Me You Offend My Family blog that he's slated to direct another Community ep. I'm always up for seeing more Asian Americans direct comedy so that Jay Chandrasekhar isn't all by his lonesome.

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