Community "Conventions of Space and Time" Review: Boring Space, Overstuffed Time, and Solid Friendship

Community S04E03: "Conventions of Space and Time”

Toward the end of of this week’s episode of Community, “Conventions of Space and Time,” Britta shared a moment of honesty with Troy by telling him, “I don’t care about Inspector Spacetime.”

Truer words have never been spoken on this show. This has nothing to do with newly hired showrunners or fired old showrunners; Inspector Spacetime isn’t funny. It’s not even particularly amusing. And the show has certainly run it into the ground more than anything else in its three-plus-year history. Because of this, and because so many TV critics* destroyed this episode in their preview for the new season, I was not at all looking forward to “Conventions of Space and Time.” However, whether because of lower expectations, some decent performances, or a combination of both, I kind of enjoyed this episode. That’s damning with faint praise for sure, but when you go into an episode assuming it’s going to be The End of Community, it’s nice to come out of it with your expectations lowered only slightly.

* The lesson here, as always, is: Don’t read TV criti— Oh. Nevermind.

The episode's biggest issues had to do with its structure. Although I like it when Community uses one event as the backdrop to tell a couple of stories, "Conventions of Space and Time" tried to jam at least four separate plots into its framework, resulting in what was probably the most scatterbrained episode ever. Troy and Abed (and Britta) made for a decent main thread about their friendship and growing up and all that stuff most of their stories are about, but everyone else was trapped in stories ranging from barely developed to nonexistent. Annie daydreaming of being Mrs. Winger ended up being less problematic than I expected, but it could have used another scene. Pierce and Shirley's involvement in test marketing for the American Spacetime adaptation existed mostly for the joke in the end tag. And Jeff, who tried to leave the convention (see a pattern there?), sat on a couch talking to wasted guest-star Tricia Helfer for 90 seconds. Too much and yet too little at the exact same time. If Pierce and Shirley weren’t even invited to the convention, don't shoehorn them in, and although sidelining Jeff helped progress Annie’s weird story, it still felt cumbersome getting to that great moment where she threw drinks in his face.

In some regard, this episode reminded me of the Season 4 premiere. Both episodes were too... manic. The premiere was all over the place emotionally and felt LOUD at times, whereas "Conventions of Space and Time" had at least one too many stories and could never totally keep the sloppiness of its less successful beats from overtaking the more resonant stuff at the core. To be fair, there've been other episodes of Community that failed to find a balance—in tone, in energy, in timing, what have you—and I’m willing to chalk this up to the new team feeling everything out. But when you’re already working with a dead gag that’s taken on an unfortunate life of its own, it's pretty important to make sure everything else within the episode fits together without straining.

Nevertheless, there were some appealing pieces in this episode. Community has probably explored questions of maturity and friendship with Troy and Abed enough by now, but with Britta serving as a new wrinkle in Troy and Abed’s epic friendship, this story felt like a more-than-worthy cause. Matt Lucas’s Toby was a fine temporary foil for Troy, and there’s certainly precedence for Troy and Abed having issues when one of them (almost always Troy) introduces a foreign element to their precious (and fragile) ecosystem. Although Troy thinks he and Abed are past that sort of thing, it makes sense to me that Abed wouldn’t totally want to wait around for T-Bone to have another moment like he did during Halloween two years ago, when he decided it was better to be a "sexy Dracula" and get women than embrace his nerd side with Abed. Abed knows that his friends are going to change, and he knows that he doesn’t want to. Instead of getting left behind, he took an active role in making sure he doesn’t end up alone.

But there were two parts of this story that helped it overcome any sense of repetitiveness and my personal disinterest in Inspector Spacetime. First, I think it made nice strides in convincing me that Troy and Britta’s relationship is not only real, but something I can care about. Britta counseling Troy on how not to be the bitter, jealous girlfriend worked (and that’s now three straight episodes where Britta has put her arm-chair psychoanalysis to good use); in those scenes, it felt like Britta and Troy were on the same wavelength, like we’ve seen them in previous seasons. If anything, it was at least better than the two of them wrestling in a fountain.

Second, the conclusion packed the kind of moderate emotional wallop that makes for a rock-solid Community story. Abed’s realization that no matter what was going on with Troy outside of their friendship, Troy would still come to help his friend tracks with their relationship. Danny Pudi was really great in those final few scenes with Abed trapped in and then freed from the box. So although the episode had a silly premise, the story itself didn’t divulge into pointless meta-riffing. This was still a straightforward, mostly warm story about two best friends and the possibilities of change. I can get behind that.

Everything else? Pretty empty. Based on the first two episodes and even how Jeff referred to the trip at the beginning of the episode—saying he only agreed to tag along with the group because he and Annie were going skiing—we’ve gotten the sense that the two of them have moved beyond most of the awkward, googly eyed tension and are experiencing something more real and mature. I’m not sure what that thing is, but I didn’t imagine it being Annie childishly imaging herself as Jeff’s wife in a hotel room. The actors did their best to make it work, and the final conversation on the couch almost sold me, but that felt like a regressive moment for Annie. And if it wasn't, then the show’s at fault for not giving us enough of their relationship coming into the episode to justify the story decision. At least it gave us Annie trying to throw liquid from the empty cups and Jeff’s line about needing to "call science."

Pierce and Shirley’s time in the focus group was one of the more innocuous bits in recent memory. It was fine, but mostly pointless—and again, a setup for a decent joke in the end tag, which I guess you might care about if A.) you care about Beverly Hills 90210 and B.) haven’t seen those Old Navy commercials with Luke Perry and Jennie Garth. Glad Chevy and Yvette got paid!

Look, it’s probably going to be rough sledding for at least five episodes here at the beginning of Season 4. None of the first three have been THE WORSE; in fact, I can pick out at least a few episodes from Seasons 1–3 that I liked less ('sup, “Competitive Wine Tasting”?). After all the scuttlebutt about this one on the internet, I’m happy that “Conventions of Time and Space” provided some quality, character-based moments. Hopefully the show’s gotten some of its “big ideas” out of its system and hopefully, you’ve made peace with what Community is: still a solid comedy.



STUDY NOTES


– The payoff to Britta’s over-the-top escape from Troy’s room was easy to see from the get-go, but that was an impressive set-piece for a show that almost certainly had its budget slashed over the summer. It’s silly that Troy and Britta would think Abed wouldn’t notice; he knew (still knows?) the female group members’ menstrual cycles, remember? Look alive, Broy.

– Britta finding joy in the female Inspector and Abed barely being able to put up with it made me smile quite a bit. That felt like a correct note for those two. Britta for the win!

– Annie Edison, World Famous Police Detective! I’d watch that.

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Best line of the night, though I forget the exact wording.

Jeff was asking if his hair was really falling out, because if it is he's going to have to "call science"

Dang, I forget the exact phrasing. But I laughed VERY loudly at that
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As I have stated before... I still love Community characters a lot... but I think the magic escaped and left us... I will keep watching but I feel like my first love is coming to an end..
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It seems that people forget this is a comedy, not as close to a dramedy as critics seem to compare it.
I loved this episode and fully enjoyed all the side stories.
Pierce & Shirley getting pulled out of the convention was hilarious. I thought it was funny that all the people in the focus group looked like the convention's rejects; parents and middle-aged to older folks.
The Jeff & Annie side story was funny, especially the drink throwing scene. And Jeff "Mind if I practice my American accent?" then later from Tricia Helfer "Your American accent is in no way convincing!"
The Britta escape scene was awesome.
And of course the final ending scene was hilarious, especially with Abed's "I hate you" at the end.
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I don't understand why people hate this season. This episode ROCKED. I'm a huge Doctor Who fan and it was HILARIOUS. I especially loved the payoff of seeing what Pierce did to the US version and then Abded ends it with I hate you LOL. VERY VERY funny. So you guys are ALLLL wrong in my opinion and just need to shut up.
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There hasn't been much of a change, people are just using Harmon going as an excuse, just realise that when it isn't at the top of it's game it's just another sitcom and when it's good then it can be very good. 4 seasons is stretching a show about Community College a bit far, start thinking logically about how these characters pay for the lifestyle they have and it starts falling down. It's just a good show most of the time that has plenty of flaws. Whoever came up with the idea that this culd run to 6 and a movie was dreaming, a movie about what exacty, Abed's severe mental health problems maybe, a One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest for the 21st Century yeah that sounds appealing......
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I started watching Community during the middle of Season 3 and fell hard and fast for this show. I admit that I regret not watching this sooner and joining the awesomeness late but at this point, Season 4 feels so different from the prior seasons without Harmon steering the wheel. I know that it'll be a long shot to get a fifth season for this show and it'll probably be cancelled which means that #sixseasonsandamovie won't happen because of the low ratings that they're getting. Some people have already quit watching but no matter how bad Community gets, I will always stick with this quirky show and will enjoy every second of this season knowing that it'll probably be the last and that without the passionate Community fans out there, we probably wouldn't have gotten this season. I thank the cast and crew of Community for giving me the joys and wonders

of this show which is arguably one of the best out there in all time. I also wanna thank my friend who I wouldn't have discovered the awesomeness of Community if she hadn't turned me onto it. May your greatness live on, Community. :)
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This is my favorite episode of the season so far
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I thought it was very funny, and also better than some episodes from prior seasons...
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Sigh. Season 4 so far is literally a situation comedy with each episode having a situation with everyone rushing around having brief conversations without any coherent plots. That's not to say that there hasn't been some solid character development, but I can't stand the bodysnatcher that's replaced Troy, he's awful and totally out of character this year! I also hate Inspector Spacetime and have felt its heavy-handed usage has been a blemish on the show (unlike the subtle and funny usage of Cougar Town). I do feel that these 3 episodes have been Community's 3 weakest and am worried at this stage that we might end up with the 13 weakest Community episodes by the end of the season. Luckily because it's Community it's still watchable.
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I'm really disappointed in this season so far, it has lost all the greatness it had in it's first three seasons. Before this season I really wanted Community to be renewed for another season, now I'm not so sure.
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Season 4 Community is so far a shadow of it's former self. Jokes and absurd premises never seem to reach the full potential they would have found in earlier seasons; jokes just end before they're halfway told. The stories and characters are layer-less! I miss the depth Community used to have, where an episode that seemed to be a Pulp Fiction homage turned into a My Dinner With Andre send-up. Now, what you see is what you get. I miss how the study group's friendship dynamics echoed my own friendships and it was always funny or even kinda sad because they struck some deep truth chord.

I really tried to go into this season with an open mind. I didn't want any preconceived notions of how this season will be worse without Harmon clouding my judgement, but the truth is the show IS worse without him. The show isn't completely without its good moments: I really liked Britta's embrace of the female Inspector, Paranormal Parentage for the most part, Jeff's slow personal growth, and I'm pleasantly surprised by how well Britta and Troy worked this episode. Hell, as a Doctor Who fan I even enjoyed the Inspector Spacetime stuff! But ultimately, this season feels a lot more superficial than previous seasons. Everything's surface level. I'll stick with it till the bitter end, but I can't shake the feeling that the show I love was cancelled last May.
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First off, I didn't like this episode, it's been well-dissected here and Cory nails it to the wall, but the bottom line is that it felt schticky and gimmicky and forced. I did laugh, and it was fun to watch with a friend, but this was a wrong turn and felt like a half-baked idea thought up at Comic-Con.

On another tack, has anybody else noticed how much smiling Abed has done this season? Not forced, awkward, pretend smiling, but genuine happiness smiling? It's offputtingly out of character and feels like the result of a network note: "audiences are put off by the autistic character's lack of happy facial expressions, please include 30% more happiness for the Abed character."
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The loss of Community brings a unique pain. We can hope for improvement, but Dan Harmon's absence will always leave us cynical. The characters and plots feel contrived and the emotional undertone of previous seasons is lost. The winds of Meta can carry many good things when done right, but they require a deftly crafted story underneath. I'm sure much of the blame falls on the bloodthirsty crows at NBC.

Nevertheless, fans of Community need not string up the rope, tighten the noose, and kick the chair. We have each other, as cliche the platitude. The new writers cannot overlook our overwhelming consensus. Community has not been swept away to the Land of Irrelevant yet.
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"...I think what they like about the show is that it's smart, complicated, and doesn't talk down to its audience."
I don't think writers put that line on Shirley's lips by chance... They know the theory, yet we had the exact opposite in this episode: dumb jokes, pointless storylines and a relationship that nobody buys shoved down our throats.
I'll keep watching because I know that the previous seasons weren't flawless and this one could as well improve, but right now I'd rather watch "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" for the umpteenth time than wait for a new Community episode.
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Is the "relationship that nobody buys" the one between Jeff & Annie or between Troy & Britta? Because they both seem unbelievable to me.
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Good point. I was thinking Troy and Britta, but either of them lacks chemistry and consistency, you're right.
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I used to buy into both, because it was being taken slow and at the perfect pace.... but they are trying too hard this season (thats more of a blanket statement)
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I liked the premiere. While critics called "this isn't as good!" I was just happy they didn't ruin it. It still felt like Community to me, it had it's moments. Paranormal Parentage worked well for me too. Conventions of Space Time didn't.

It's at this point that I'm actually a little worried for the series. Watching Community I always expect it to be good, and occasionally I expect it to fail, but there are weeks that I know it'll be epic. That's the nature of a show that takes risks, and I accept that. But the new regime hasn't yet proved to me that they can be epic.
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Enjoyed the episode.lived the beginning with britta dodging abed, that was a great scene, britta ftw!

I feel like a big part of the difference in tone with Season 4, is the behind the scenes shake ups. Its so publicized thats its hard not to notice the show is different...if that makes sense.

Im still really enjoying the characters, even if the story is a bit off. But I had been waiting for this episode, and I did enjoy it.

Rankings of Season 4:
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 1
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At least when Harmon was on, he KNEW when characters didn't really have a place in a storyline. Pierce and Shirley got treated in much too flimsy a manner to justify their presence in this episode, but then, Britta and Troy's relationship feels the same, as did the Hunger Games theme in episode 1, and...well, the last episode was pretty much, overall, OK.

I honestly never felt the Inspector Spacetime joke had run it's course. It will have, however, if they choose to use it again at the same, or to a greater, capacity than they used it in this episode. A couple of end tags here and mentions there scattered around seasons 1-3 didn't bother me, and I really enjoyed the jokes that lovingly poked fun at it here.

I agree about Annie, though. I mean, they wrapped it up as well as they could to ensure us that it was just a small little thing that's entirely unrelated to the somewhat obsessive Annie we saw earlier in the shows timeline, but it did undo some of the lose ends they'd previously tied up. I don't want another in-group couple to focus on this season. I just don't. I want to see more from Troy and Britta to justify their existence as a couple now, because it happened to suddenly. I always preferred the potential for a relationship between Troy and Britta than Annie and Jeff - although, yes, I still think Britta and Jeff were a lot more fun to watch - but it happened so fast. The final episode - or one of the final episodes - of the last season had a moment that spelled it pretty clearly - Britta's not exactly no. 1 in Troy's world. That hasn't stopped being true with the new writers so I can't fathom the point of the relationship. Britta seems to know it, so it cheapens her character for me that a woman who's, sometimes in misguided ways, always wanted respect and understanding, and for things to be meaningful, would be in a relationship with Troy when he's still the kind of guy who thinks of Abed before anyone else. I'm not saying it needs to stop being Abed, but I don't it's a position that's ready to be 'shared' with Britta - what was the build up? Britta's always loved and look out for Abed in almost a big sister way, so it's always made sense to me that Britta ending up with Troy would lead to a little super group between Abed, Troy and Britta. This felt like Britta had a teeny tiny 'in' into the life of Troy Barnes, it didn't feel like boyfriend and girlfriend. But again, I've never been against that couple, so if the writers can prove that they make sense as a couple without cheapening any of the characters - more than they have, in Britta's case - or relationships...I'll be a happy Human Being.

I'm overall OK with the new writers' approach. There was never going to be a writer that could have made the material NOT feel a degree cheaper post-Harmon, and had these writers been there from day one we'd probably appreciate them more, flaws and all...Harmon had a method, and always had a point, the New Community is doing it's best to keep the heart and the meaning there, but again...no one's going to write Britta they way Harmon did. The actors are still here, that's what's saving the show for me, more than anything else. I care about the characters and I love the people who portray them. And the new writers haven't driven me crazy, although so far all their episodes have been extremely forceful with theme and spectacle, and there's sometimes a glaringly obvious lack of Harmon's good sense, and his eye for good character beats...but I wasn't coming into season 4 with high expectations. I was coming in with medium-to-low expectations and they've, in a pleasantly surprising way, not been met...but it cuts close sometimes. No one will ever write Harmon's characters in a way that makes as much sense as his conceptions of the characters. Some of them went through a process of growth in previous seasons and the writers have undone all the work and build up. The new writers are by NO means measuring up to Harmon. They leveling down. But again, the actors are saving the show, they're making it work, even when it shouldn't. And even though it probably isn't deserving of our good natures (ahahaha), and there's been an under-usage of Dean, and Chang's moment came to soon considering we haven't seen him yet, and also that moment should never have come at all, and also they're doing the thing Harmon made FUN of, giving 'older' characters old storylines - specifically engineered for them because they're the oldest characters - even through ALL OF THAT, I'm okay with it. And I'm certain it's because of the actors, really, and I'm okay with that. I'm coming back for them, they're making me OK with the new writers' approach.
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I agree, I'd like to see more from Britta and Troy, as a couple. When they're together we see Britta being Britta, and Troy being Troy. But I want to see Britta being Troy's girlfriend, and Troy being Britta's boyfriend. I want to see the sort of compromises they make for each other as a couple, the luggage they bring from past relationships and how they handle that too. Right now they're in a kind of 'why bother' space.

Remember when Troy sent Britta that sweet text message as Blade so she'd stop being attracted to him? It hinted at a kind of caring Troy had for Britta, and the sort of departure it would be for her to be with someone like him. But since they've been a couple we've seen none of that. I feel ripped off.
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Exactly. Not only rushed, but rushed messily. They don't feel like a couple. They felt more like a couple when they WEREN'T a couple, in moments like the one you mentioned. Sweet and cute and not at all the snoozefest that watching them lie in bed together is.
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What a wonderfully articulate and thoughtful comment. You are handling this soooooo much better than I am.

"No one will ever write Harmon's characters in a way that makes as much sense as his conceptions of the characters. Some of them went through a process of growth in previous seasons and the writers have undone all the work and build up."

I have been searching for these words ever since the season 4 premier. I'm usually no slouch at expressing my thoughts, but you conveyed in two sentences what I've been trying to say in two longwinded and pretentious comments.

I think you are the one deserving of kisses upon thine feet.
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There's a difference between being pretentious and expressing yourself and I LOVED your comment :-)

I haven't bought a new pair of shoes in months, sure about that last part? #AwkwardHumor
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I bet if it was never released about the show runner changes, most people wouldnt even notice a difference. I thought this was a pretty good episode overall. Im sure we could go back and find things we want to complain about in half the Community episodes, but who cares... its still a great show.
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This is an excellent point as well.

When people compare Community to Harmon's rule, they tend to compare these first 3 episodes to great Community episodes like Cooperative Calligraphy and Remedial Chaos Theory. But what if we compared these episodes to the first 3 episodes Harmon did in Season Two*? Are these new episodes as good as Anthropology 101, Accounting for Lawyers and the Psychology of Letting Go? I think that's the question we have to ask ourselves, for a fair comparison.

If you compare three new episodes to the best episodes in three season's worth of material, of course they're going to fall short.

*I chose the first 3 eps of Season Two instead of Season One, because I think the first episodes of a series have a lot to establish, and it isn't exactly a fair comparison either, in my mind.
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Is it only me, or has Community become a little more than an excuse to show a shirtless Joel Mchale?! Cover up for God's sake!
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The jokes in Inspector Space Time can only truly be appreciated by Dr. Who fans, I think. There were many laughable points for me - thought their version of the Daleks was fun. I still have no interest in the Britta/Troy and Annie/Jeff stories. They make me uncomfortable, I don't buy any of the chemistry, and I find myself cringing every time the story lines come up.
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I enjoyed this one more than the previous two. The character interactions seem off with the new show-runner (maybe it's just the new relationships) and so any episode that is set outside of the school is more appealing to me.
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This whole episode I kept feeling uncomfortably embarrassed for the characters – Annie’s childish role playing, Troy’s public meltdown, and all of the Britta / Troy relationship. It felt like watching someone you like and respect have too much to drink and make a fool of themselves in public.
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Really, really enjoyed this episode. Like one of the more subtler Community episodes (I'm thinking Mixology Certification), no overblown jokes but still made me smile throughout the entire episode. Something about the pacing though is still a little weird. But I still love it. However, I definitely think this should've come after the episode that we'll get next, where they return to Greendale and have a new professor. Having the "Halloween" episode followed by the "Inspector Spacetime" episode means the first time the study group is ACTUALLY going to be in class will be episode 4. Just seems mismanaged and out of place. Upon rewatching, I'll probably put episode 4 in 2's place and then shift 2 and 3. You can tell "Conventions of Space and Time" SHOULD have been the 4th episode anyway since Annie's hotel room door says "404"
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Still feels like an uncanny valley version of the show. It's creepy.
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Out of all the comments on here, this one sums it up the best.
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I feel like I'm the only person who enjoys Inspector Space time. I am obsessed with Doctor Who, and it so makes sense that Abed would be obsessed with Community's version of it. I for one hope it shows up again.

Also, I enjoyed the episode, except for the Pierce parts... but then I've always hated his parts so nothing new there.
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I've become one of THOSE guys.

You know, one of those guys who hates the episode/show in question, but still finds the time to write some angry and bitter stuff about it. I can imagine a Community fan responding to this comment like, "Dude, if you don't like it, DON'T WATCH IT!"

I can't help it hypothetical dissenter! Community was my favorite comedy on TV. It's hard to let it go. I will admit watching something that I loved mutate into this grotesquely broad, dumbed down version of itself is more than slightly masochistic. But I feel compelled to keep watching.

I'm also starting to get frustrated with all the positive comments on these forums, not to mention Cory's uncanny ability to look on the bright side of a now pedestrian show. Just like in every episode I will forever wonder what Dan Harmon would have done, I will likewise wonder what Tim Surette would have wrote about this "new" Community as it devolves. Yes, I suppose I'm bitter now.

I just want to scream at the people who write "A bad episode of Community is still better than a good episode of almost every other comedy on the major networks!" THAT WAS THE OLD COMMUNITY! I laughed more while watching a recent episode of Modern Family. True story. Archer, New Girl, Happy Endings, Parks and Rec, Raising Hope and Go On are all examples of better comedies in comparison to season 4.

When you watched Community, you really had to WATCH. So many things were going on simultaneously. Jokes had layers of meaning. There were gags hidden inside of gags. Dan Harmon demanded the most out of his audience. You had to pay attention or miss out on a subtle sight gag that everyone would be tweeting about the next day. In this episode, I found myself drifting down to my iPhone to respond to some texts. I did this because I knew I wouldn't be missing anything. With this shiny and vacuous version, what you see is what you get. Community used to be an iceberg. Now it's a puddle.

The difference in Community post-Harmon is startling. Camera-work, lighting, directing, delivery and dialogue are all unrecognizable. But the worst part of it all is the force feeding of Troy and Britta. These two have no chemistry and it's painful watching the Troy I knew and loved disappear. It's almost like the writers don't understand Troy. He's a child one minute, an idiot the next, then he'll have glimpses of maturity. It's very schizophrenic and disjointed writing. Community had some of the most loveable characters on TV. Now they're becoming caricatures.

All of these criticisms could be pushed aside if the new show was funny. But it's not. This episode did not elicit one solid laugh from me. There were a few scattered chuckles and the occasional guffaw, but genuine laughter was not to be had.

And another thing, didn't Britta INTRODUCE Abed to Inspector Spacetime in Biology 101? She said something along the lines of "It’s a British sci-fi show that’s been on the air since 1962.” So, as the person responsible for Inspector Spacetime being added to the Community ethos, what the hell was this episode about?! It was written like she had no knowledge of the Inspector and his trusty Constable prior to the Con. “Wow, there are 50 years of these, huh?” Didn't you already know that, Britta? I know it's nitpicky, but small details like this is what used to make Community the best comedy on TV. Either the new writers forgot or don't care.

Sad. Sad, sad, sad.
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Thank you, completely agree with everything you said.. it's maddening what has happened to one of the best comedies ever.. it's garbage now. Not even among the top shows on TV in my opinion.. I'd much rather see an episode of Parks than this.

Still many episodes to go, but I've lost all hope. All of it's good days are behind it. Without the original writers, the show is doomed and not worth airing. Complete disservice to the quality we expect as fans..
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Great write up, FF. It's so nice to know that I'm not alone in how I feel about this season of Community. The writing lacks depth. The characters are now hollow or no longer true to their neurotic selves. I feel nothing watching these people, they seem like total strangers to me. I can't properly put into words my disappointment at not having enjoyed the first three episodes. But what else should I expect from the brain dead execs at the 5th place network who decided that "intelligent" comedy doesn't sell and they needed to go another direction. Sad indeed.
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Thanks! Knowing there are other people having the same thoughts somehow makes this maddening experience more tolerable.
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I know exactly what you mean. It's like this season is a caricature of its former self. Instead of taking old sitcom tropes and turning them inside out, this season seems to be playing them straight. Plus, as you (and others) have said, it seems they're regressing back to their Season Two characterizations...that all the growth of season three has been wiped away.
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You know I love you, and Community, so this is a difficult position to be stuck in... I agree with you that the whole 'a bad episode of Community...' stuff doesn't apply post-Harmon, because we haven't seen a good episode yet. Until they show us some vintage Community a-la Paradigms of Human Memory or Pillows and Blankets or Modern Warfare or Remedial Chaos Theory they won't have our faith in these lesser episodes, but equally it isn't Two and a Half Men! Even at this level it's an above average comedy, below Parks and Rec, New Girl, Archer etc. but still delivering decent laughs (be that at the behest of characters we've grown to love because of the 'Harmon era'). People were lukewarm about Season 3 until Remedial Chaos Theory (episode 4), (though I adore Geography of Global Conflict), and season 1 didn't really kick-start until episode 6, so I think we need to stem our expectations and thus Cory's assessment of this episode seems pretty accurate...
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yes, it's still above 2 and a half dudes, by a lot. Perhaps, FringeFanatic, I and others should just keep the comparisons within the show itself. I think that's a better way to deal with it. (please don't yell at me...;) )
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I loved season 3 from the very first singing intro. Whatever Community is now isn't as bad as Two and a Half Men, but it's become one of many middling comedies that are out there. I wouldn't even say better than most.

I love you, too, but this is how I feel.
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Yet again, my thoughts exactly. It didn't elicit any laughter from me, nor chuckles or guffaws. It was like I was watching a whole different show and I couldn't bring myself to remember why I kept on watching. But I'm the type that sticks with shows through high and lows, and surely through the end. So I know I'll keep on watching, no matter how awful it gets.
It's really sad because during the hiatus the show got a lot of hype, what with the "October 19th" thingy and all, and if any people decided "hey, maybe I should check this show out", they most certainly won't understand what the fuss was about. Only those of us who fell in love with the show from the beginning can understand how genius it was.
Troy and Britta? No chemistry at all. And they are certainly butchering any chemistry left between Annie and Jeff. Shirley was underused. Abed didn't seem like Abed. And Pierce... well, Pierce is Pierce. And where's Chang? And the Dean? And the college?
I did enjoy the teaser (the long take of Britta) but that was about it. And so many cameos! What for? Community never relied on its guest stars, it was about the main characters.
Well, this turned into a rant rather quickly... Here's to hoping the show finds its footing again...
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I think I love you. It's so weird bashing what used to be my favorite comedy, but I can 't tell you how much it means to have somebody just as put off as I am. What should we talk about to lift our spirits? ... I've got it! What'd you think of the last New Girl episode? Awkward fight! :)
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I think I love you too! Fringe, Community, AND New Girl? Just tell me that you're a die-hard fan of Buffy and Veronica Mars and that'll be all the proof I need that we are meant to be :) Aww don't get me started on New Girl, that show is definitely getting better and better! "You want weird? I'll give you weird. Weird, weird, weird." I think I've watched the last five episodes at least twice, because it makes laugh out loud so much! And by the way, bashing, complaining and whining about everything is like a national sport where I come from, so bash away!
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And we get to brag that Joss Whedon's part of that breed.
And Paula Gonzalez is right! To all the FringeFanatics (well, there's only ONE FringeFanatic - well, not in a fan-of-Fringe type-way, of course, you know what I'm tryna say, I hope, I'm not even sure I know what I'm tryna say - but the people in FringeFanatics' position is what I'm saying) in all the land, Veronica Mars is what you get when...a person makes a really awesome TV show. Also the way it's filmed/looks makes me want a Veronica Mars/Breaking Bad crossover in the most desperate way.
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@CiaraGlynn: We VM + BTVS lovers are a rare breed, nearly extinct, so it always warms my heart to find a fellow fan of this combo of awesomeness! (P.S. I loved your Shakespearean-ish comment)
@FringeFanatic: Having read a lot of your posts, I can tell that you appreciate fine TV, so I don't understand how you've been able to elude the amazing Veronica Mars so long. Give it a shot, you won't regret it! I fell in love with it right from the pilot, a feat not many shows accomplish. And Joss Whedon was a hard-core fan! That's a seal of approval. As regards your question about Spike, I always get the feeling it's a trick question. So in order to avoid another rant... I love the guy. I agree with you on NIck and Jess, it's lovely how their relationship has developed, and they are so damn cute! And the season finale is called "First Date", so I think we know where things are headed...
I also grew up with Buffy, and I rewatch the show every year (as well VM). My love for those two is endless.
@slerman12: yes, you may join this orgy! It's nice to see that we Community fans have similar tastes!
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May I join the orgy of good television taste? My fandom stretches beyond Community too. The show I bid most is that of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The other shows you mention are my loves as well.
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Buffy is the best! But I never had the pleasure of watching Veronica Mars. Damn! We were so close to being soul mates.

You too! I've almost rewatched this entire season of New Girl. On my second viewing of the last episode, for some reason Jess's little fist pump to Nick as they were brushing their teeth strangely made me laugh uncontrollably. In my opinion, they're the cutest non-couple on TV right now. And if Schmidt hadn't walked in when he did, maybe we could have subtracted the "non". How long can that silly no-nail oath keep those two crazy/adorable kids apart?

I watched Buffy during my formative years and it will forever be apart of me. What is your opinion of Spike? I ask this of every Buffy fan I know, and the response is never dull. :D
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I see mention of Buffy and Veronica Mars so I come to bestow you with kisses upon thine feet and then I disappear into the smog mysteriously *whoosh*
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Wasn't the best, but certainly wasn't the worst either.

Silver lining: hopefully, this will be the last time Inspector Specetime will be mention for a long while.
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Inspector Spacetime needs to be put down.
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Couldn't agree more.
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OK, Dan Harmon is gone and he is not coming back. This really sucks, but it's time to get over it and move on. A "bad" episode of Community is still better than a good episode of almost every other comedy on the major networks!
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Lets try not to be blind fans about this. A bad episode is still a bad episode, regardless of how it compares to other shows.
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Note the quotations around the word bad. That was meant to infer that the majority of Community fans find this episode disagreeable. I rather liked it. It is a simple matter of opinion. I recently read an article on here detailing what the reviewers favorite episodes are and why. I did not care for some of the episodes that they considered to be the best of the best. I am not calling them bad though.
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This isn't a bad episode, though. There are worse episodes of Community out there.
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Oh, and I know the joke was supposed to be about the US networks' attempts at remaking international shows, but I think Shirley's comment reflects the general idea of the change in Community, as well.

"... what they like about the show is that it's smart, complicated, and doesn't talk down to its audience. So if you'd like to make a really good American version, you should stay true to that."

Unfortunately, NBC didn't stay true to that and dumbed down Community.
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I also think it was a parody of the Dr. Who made for TV movie featuring the 8th doctor (Paul McGann), which was set in San Francisco. It was a co-production of BBC and FOX and was written as a pilot for an American version of the show.
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oh, lord, I've never heard of that. Was it awful??
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I thought it was so-so, most Dr. Who fans hated it. I remember at the time (1996) FOX said they would make it in to a series if the ratings were good, but it bombed.
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Yeah, I just tried to ignore that. These writers need to move on from that kind of commentary; it's just bringing on the comparisons even more.
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This episode felt really weirdly put together to me. Scenes just kind of ended with no transition or punchline. It was oddly slapdash for Community.
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Totally slapdash!
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This may have been my favorite of the three episodes this season... not sure... maybe I enjoyed the second a bit more. Either way, this episode was okay. Frankly, I think this was another wasted concept (referring to one of my comments on last week's review), but maybe one of the reasons I like this episode a bit more is that I don't feel the concept is AS wasted as the Hunger Games and haunted house concepts. Tricia Helfer was kind of wasted, too.

My favorite part of the episode had nothing to do with the convention -- it was Britta's sequence at the top of the episode. I thought that was quite hilarious and it worked quite well with the standard Community song. Maybe my favorite moment of the series so far.

I'm in agreement with Cory and his review about Inspector Spacetime. I've never particularly cared for it... it was okay as a brief joke here and there, but it never really did anything for me. The idea and concept of an Inspector Spacetime Convention is cool, but it didn't provide anything particularly funny.

Along with the wasted concepts, I think my two biggest beefs with the episodes this season, so far, have been: 1) the writers use/portrayal of Troy and Annie... two of my favorites have turned into sad idiots... and, 2) instead of a transition into their relationships, it appears Troy + Britta and Annie + Jeff is being shoved down my throat.
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Tricia Helfer was totally wasted :( They were doing basically a Comic-Con episode and couldn't fit in a BSG joke? A sad day indeed. Between this and the Hunger Games one it's really disappointing on how the writers are failing to cash in on pretty good premises.
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The episode def had its problems but overall i enjoyed it, the second episode of the season was way better, but this one atleast made me laugh which i cant say happened when i watched the first episode. The Britta escape was awesome
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I liked the Britta escape scene but other than that the episode was kinda boring. Repetitive = Yes. Underused characters = Yes. Somehow overstuffed with stories but most characters doing nothing = Yes.

Like some of the other comments, I feel like if the show would go back to Greendale and not have some ridiculous setup going on, the show would fair better. I'm hoping they go back asap.
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I also liked how in the American version his companion calls him Inspector Spacetime instead of just Inspector. Its like how people who dont watch Dr Who think the Doctors name is Dr Who (and I am exluding the two dr who movies from the 60s for this point)
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The opening scene with Britta needs to be available everywhere. Gillian Jacobs, you are my light, my inspiration, my everything.
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I haven't watched this episode yet, so I'll refrain from commenting on your review, but I feel this needs to be said, bring the show back to greendale, I know its only been two episodes out of three, but this show is best when its at Greendale.
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I actually agree with that. Hoping that they'll move back towards the school in the next few episodes.
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I don't really agree that Troy and Britta's relationship is something that feels real, or that I can care about it. She's being generally supportive here, but I'm not sure it feels unique to their new situation as a couple (beyond the plot demands of her being dragged along) and not it's different from in the psych undergrad analysis that she's given already to Jeff this season...And perhaps the show's getting around to it, but these three episodes haven't given them an opportunity to feel like a couple to give me a reason to understand why they're together beyond some groundwork laid last season...shameless pandering to get both of them into their underwear aside.

That aside, it was...fine? It's by no means the worse, you're right, but nothing was particularly funny, beyond drinks being thrown in Jeff's face, but that's almost always funny, like Troy talk-crying.

Also: Didn't need to be reminded that there was an American (and British and Canadian co-) produced attempt at a Doctor Who series.
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That's probably true. I was just happy that the show gave us SOMETHING other than simply telling us that they are a couple.
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I loved Britta's escape scene... starting with swinging from the rope, to the gymnastic "put on pants" bit, to well... just about everything.

And that's ignoring that she didn't look bad in her underwear :-)

But seriously... that whole bit got a huge chuckle out of me... especially when I realized it started with an actual rope. I had to rewind that a few times.
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It was a OK episode. Out of the three so far i would put it at the bottom. Scale 1-10 I give it a 6.5 maybe 7. I love Doctor Who so the Inspector Spacetime was alright for me. Is it just me or doesn't all guys want to see more Britta in her underwear. WOW! I do agree that Chevy and Yvette could have stayed out of this one. It was pointless really. Also do agree with that Community is gonna start to get better. The new guys are just working out the kinks. Also on another note it seems to me that NBC is making it more harder for Community (Like always). I don't see one commercial at all during the week for Community except maybe one on the day the show airs. Stupid NBC!!
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It was better than the first two this season, but still so far from what I expect from Community. I hope they can get it together. I agree about this episode being similar to the premiere, too many stories crammed into one episode.
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I know that reviews are written by critics, and if they weren't critical then all reviews would be like Homer Simpson, food tester. That said, usually reviews further my enjoyment of a show, but these ones don't, I agree that the premiere was a mess, but I really enjoyed the last two episodes, a lot. I laughed out loud (by myself) with extreme frequency in this episode. When I saw Britta's escape, this episode put its best foot forward to me.

I miss Dan Harmon, but this comedy is making me laugh, and for me, that's what is still important.

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i actually agree...it seems like every review of Community so far is basically talking about how this season isn't as good as the first three. but we are only three episodes in and furthermore not all Dan Harmon episodes were golden this writing team just need to find it's grove and the complaints are a little annoying
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I tried NOT to talk about those things in this episode. I hope to keep moving away from it, as the show does as well.
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I actually really enjoyed this episode. And I kind of liked it more than ep2. I actually wasnt looking forward to this episode b/c although I enjoyed the first couple episodes that inspector spacetime showed up it has kind of dragged on for a bit. But it turned out to be really good and is def more like the quality of the previous seasons. I also liked looking at the extras this episode. And for a convention they didnt really have a tun of ppl there, like man was that one room for that panel tiny.
But i think what this show really needs is an episode where the whole group is stuck together (but i think thats happening with the thanksgiving ep where everyone (minus jeff?) go to shirleys house).
The tag for this episode is prob the best that they have had in a long time actually and I think it was the only point in the episode where i burst out laughing.
And I agree Helfer's time on screne was very limited and part of me wished that they could have gotten a Dr Who actress to play the fan but oh well. I also agree that the Jeff/Annie storyline needed an extra scene. But I guess it might feel like that for a lot of episodes if they continue to do the A, B and C storylines.
Also abed knowing/figuring out that Jeff/Britta were sleeping together would have been a bigger sign that he would have been able to figure out that Troy/Britta would be sleeping together. Cuz him charting they menstral cycles was more of an accident.
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I wonder if people will notice something: the Spacetime geek who followed Abed in this episode referred to all the others as "neurotypicals." This is what a lot of aspies call people who aren't on the autism spectrum.

Some people have complained that Abed is supposed to be an Aspie caricature, but they haven't had any evidence beyond Pierce's remark in the pilot, and.....he's Pierce.

I wonder if they'll find their smoking gun from this ep and start sending letters.
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Jeff was the one who said Abed had Asperger's in the pilot, actually. But yeah.
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There were a handful of times in the beginning of the show, AFTER the pilot, where they literally had to stop someone from saying the "A" word about Abed. The pilot was the most obvious, as they went from talking about an Asperger fund raiser or something to the head-shake emoting "don't say it"
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no other characters have almost talked about it but havent full out said that he has autism. remember in seasons ones Physical Education epsiode where the grou thinks that that one girl has a crush on him Annie, Shirley and Troy all almost say it. Also I didnt know the "neurotypicals" thing
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Ok I liked it. But this had way too many things going on at the same time that would have been great if they were presented alone. The whole thing with Annie and Mrs. Winger. I can see a funny episode based entirely on that. Same thing with Troy and Abed and Toby. I think that too was a waste of such a great guest star in Matt Lucas. I could see a funny episode based on that as well. The Jeff and Tricia Helfer thing, I agree was a huge waste of Tricia Helfer. I would much rather have seen her in later, with Annie and Jeff getting closer and Tricia Helfer's character coming in and making Annie insecure and do hilarious things to try to see if Jeff was cheating on her.

But I agree, Pierce and Shirley really didn't need to be there at all. It took potential moments for funny away from the rest of the cast and for a season bound and determined to include everyone in the the show has at least these three episodes is also bound and determined to keep them separated through out the majority of the episode. Which to me just makes it seem off.
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Really, really busy episode for sure.
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To me this felt like the most mainstream episode of community. The who intro with Brittany sneaking around felt like something in the NBC laugh track version of community in the season premier. I can say this is the first time I feel I can notice there are new show runners. I prefer the more wacky episodes like the first 2 in this season.
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That Britta scene didn't seem wacky to you? They had a rope swing set up!
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I love Inspector Spacetime. Nice to see a show pay tribute to Doctor Who :)
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i think that episode 2 was waaaaaaaaaay better than both this episode and the primiere
this episode had it's funny moments (Britta's escape) and i still think Community is the best comedy out there
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