Community (NBC) 4.03- "Conventions of Space and Time"A tv review article by: Janelle Revord
4.03- "Conventions of Space and Time"
I went into "Conventions of Space and Time" still buzzed off of the pleasant surprise that was the preceding episode, "Paranormal Parentage." Maybe I need to cut Community some slack. It's never had a flawless track record in my book, and maybe I've been getting a little bit defensive over my expectations of what this show need to be. I've become like an overprotective parent for this show that I've watched grow and develop over the years, and I want nothing but the best for it; really, my intentions are pure. Though with any overprotective parent, there's always the danger of becoming overbearing.
If you've seen the scale of just how great your child has performed in the past, it's not unreasonable to expect that performance every single time; they've proven themselves capable so there shouldn't be any issue maintaining that high standard. Unless you're Breaking Bad, it really is kind of unfair to hold a TV show to unreasonable expectations, yet I don't want to lower my standards so much where every week I just give my review for the show a ribbon for participation, everyone's a winner! This is why I don't have kids I guess. Well, that and I fucking hate children.
In loosening the vice grip I've had on the balls of this show, "Conventions of Space and Time" was still just mediocre at best, sprinkled with disappointment from the demeaning light women are portrayed in in this episode. The highest point of this episode is unfortunately at the beginning, which features the strongest opening of the season so far, kind of reminiscent of Season 1. Britta and Troy are definitely doing "things" as referenced by Troy in the last episode, and I think Community definitely made a good decision focusing on their relationship as much as they have so far. It's the first time two people in the group are officially dating. It's not like one of Britta's weird boyfriends we know nothing about and quite frankly probably are better off that way. We love Troy, we love Britta, and up until this point the deepest relationship between any two people in the group has been Troy and Abed's friendship, which by all means is deeper than any romantic relationship this show has ever seen.
In "Conventions of Space and Time," the group is headed to Inspecticon, an Inspector Spacetime Convention, the frequently referenced show that both Troy and Abed are obsessed with. Out of all the character plot lines, I feel most sympathetic towards Troy in this episode. It's refreshing to see Troy putting so much effort and emphasis on the importance of his and Abed's friendship, which is unlike the harsher realities of the world we live in where your friends who are in relationships usually have a tendency to fall off the grid, only to resurface post-break up as if the lapse in time where your friendship was basically hanging in the gallows was non-existent. He's incredibly fortunate and lucky to have both Abed and Britta in his life, but trying to find the perfect balance between both of those important relationships proves itself to be a difficult task, the difficulty being at no fault to Britta or Abed, as they are both trying to be accommodating to Troy's situation.
Britta, although having no real interest in Inspector Spacetime, indulges in her boyfriend's interests to be supportive. Of course, being Britta, she starts stirring the feminist pot when she jumps to the defense of a disliked female inspector, who isn't liked not because she's a woman, but as Abed put it, "because she sucks". Abed, on the other hand, realizes that because of Troy's relationship with Britta he needs to expand his social circle, which is where we are introduced to Toby (Matt Lucas), the biggest Inspector Spacetime fan in the world. Troy should be happy for Abed, right? He can now spend more time with Britta guilt free because Abed has met someone else with similar interests, someone else who isn't Troy-- the same someone who could potentially be a better friend to steal Abed away forever.
You could say that Troy's jealousy stems from wanting to have it all and not being able to, but I personally feel that it's more wanting happiness for the people you care about and also wanting to be that source of happiness for everyone, so much so that when you see your baby bird fly free finding happiness outside of what you are capable of offering, it's hard not to be a little (or in Troy's case a lot) hurt and jealous of what they have found that you were unable to provide.
For this episode being set at a convention, I was curious to see how they would touch upon geek culture, and this episode had a fantastic opportunity to address an issue that is an incredibly hot topic: girls in geekdom, more importantly, attractive girls in geekdom. Jeff Winger just so happened to bear a striking resemblance to the Inspector Spacetime villain Thoraxis, and upon discovering this was more determined than ever to get as far away from Inspecticon as possible. Despite the objections of Annie who wanted to stay, being predictable Jeff Winger, he has no objections to her staying in the hotel room reserved under his name, but he was still certainly going to leave.
There is nothing that will keep Jeff at this convention, nothing except for a good looking woman who thinks he's the actor that plays Thoraxis. The dialogue pokes fun at Jeff's disbelief that this attractive woman could somehow actually be a fan of Inspector Spacetime, having him try to figure out what physical deformities she must have at one point had, specifically having glasses or a back brace, that led to her liking this show, ignoring the beginnings of her response of intelligent reasoning about the show's philosophy having to do with her appreciation, to which she laughs off.
Unfortunately, it seems like Community also forgot about that as well, expecting the audience to just laugh it off as well, quickly devolving this minor character into just another irrational, hormonal, throw your drink in someone’s face kind of gal. For a woman who has a Thoraxis wallpaper and ringtone on her phone, while intelligently appreciating the show, finding out that the actor you are talking to is married, regardless of the truth in that statement, no matter how "Thoraxis" that makes him, doesn't warrant that kind of behavior. Has Community forgotten how to button a scene? Instead of finding a way to succinctly just have a statement that yes, good looking women can be fans of nerdy or geeky things, Community opted to make this woman as dramatic and unreasonable as she was pretty, which unfortunately is not the only disappointment of female portrayal during this episode.
From the start of this season I've become increasingly concerned about the direction they're taking Annie, as well as finding a great deal of difficulty believing Jeff and Annie to ever be a couple that doesn't look like someone's hot dad hitting on his daughter's friend. They really dove off the deep end in Annie fantasyland with one phone call to room service where she was addressed as "Mrs. Winger" had her falling down the rabbit hole. It was so frightening to see how far Annie took this false reality that I almost want to start a petition against hotels making assumptions about who they're talking to on the phone to prevent this from ever happening again. It was moreso a blow to the intelligent character that Annie usually is, belittling her like a little girl who has run the ink in her pen dry writing "Mrs. Jeff Winger" and "Annie Winger" in bubble letters all over her spiral notebooks. Alison Brie is an outstanding actress and Annie is a character with a lot to offer besides what was seen in this episode, and I sincerely hope that this show takes advantage of that in upcoming episodes and how they write her character.
Meanwhile, Shirley has been my go to Meta voice for the show this season. When she references that the original Inspector Spacetime was smart, complicated and didn't talk down to its audience, the connections immediately drew comparisons for me with what she said and how Community once was. Although it felt relatable, it was definitely relatable on a mainstream level. You could take any number of plot points from this episode and plug it into another sitcom with different characters and a different setting and essentially have it play out the same way, which is incredibly unfortunate because Community usually shines through with its originality. The inception of most of these plot points had the potential to play out in an entertaining manner, but unfortunately the thing that "Conventions of Space and Time" is lacking is presenting something unique. The predictability and blandness of the resolve left me feeling like I just watched an after school special making it hard to feel genuine emotion towards anything that occurred.
Janelle Revord is one of the few authentically born and raised Austinites you'll ever encounter in your lifetime. When she's not yelling at people who have just moved to town to "get off her lawn," or attempting to holla at celebrities to get drinks with her when guest-hosting on CB's own Paranoid Video, you can find her on twitter basically doing the exact same thing in 140 characters or less.