News Briefs: Community Is Doing a Puppet Episode

AND FOR ITS NEXT GIMMICK...

... It's often said that networks have their hands up the asses of some of their stars, and in NBC and Community's case, that will literally be true! Except only sorta. The ratings-challenged show will do an all-puppet episode next month featuring guest-star Jason Alexander. Here's the description of the episode: "The study group takes a wild balloon ride that crash-lands in the woods and they end up spending a little time with a friendly mountain man (Alexander). As the study group recounts their adventure, which has left them all feeling a little awkward toward one another, Dean Pelton encourages them to speak about their experience with the use of puppets." Someone please defend this setup as an excuse to do a puppet episode, because I can't. [NBC via press release]


BUSINESS TIME

... Aspiring wizards of America, Syfy has put a series-finale date on the British import Merlin. Season 5 will come to a close for U.S. audiences on May 31. If you can't wait that long, you can get a time AND space machine and travel back to Christmas Eve in England when it ended there. Or you can be a dick and download it ILLEGALLY. *TV.com does not endorse the illegal download of shows, unless you really, really want it.* [Syfy via press release]

... Quick, tell your four-year-old niece that Disney has renewed Sofia the First for a second season and then tell her you bought her a pony but it died. Then say, "That's a lesson in good news/bad news." [Disney via press release]

... TLC is calling it quits on its long-running series What Not to Wear, which will air its tenth season starting this July. But if you're still unsure of what to wear, or what not to be in general, just watch Honey Boo Boo. [TLC via press release]


ONLY THE FINEST CASTING NEWS OF THE DAY

... Melissa McCarthy is hosting Saturday Night Live again, taking the April 6 slot. She was one of the more popular hosts last season, when she hosted in October of '11. [US Weekly]

... Angels in America Emmy-winner Jeffrey Wright is joining the Season 4 cast of HBO's Boardwalk Empire. He'll play Valentin Narcisse, a philanthropist who runs Harlem. [Deadline Hollywood]

... Fox's upcoming animated comedy Murder Police has cuffed two of its top cops. Or at least their voices. Jane Lynch (Glee) and Wilmer Valderrama (That '70s Show) will play two of the cops in the workplace comedy starring Jason Ruiz's voice in the role of a neurotic detective. Lynch will voice a working mom who's also a detective, and Valderrama will play a reckless undercover cop. Murder Police will debut sometime next season, as Fox has already ordered 13 episodes. [Fox via press release]

... Kelly Preston, John Travolta's wife and two-time Golden Raspberry Award nominee for Battlefield Earth and Old Dogs, has grabbed the lead role in ABC's comedy pilot Keep Calm and Karey On. She'll play Karey (ohhhhh now I get it), a woman who raises her brother's kid after he's sent to prison. [Deadline Hollywood]

... Matthew Lillard will star in the NBC drama pilot I Am Victor. The show follows a divorce attorney (John Stamos) who has a unique take on relationships. Lillard will play Victor's best friend. Lillard and Stamos, the dream team we've all been waiting for! [Deadline Hollywood]

... Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Anthony Head (he played Giles) has been cast in the second go-round of the CW pilot The Selection. The drama, based on the book of the same name, is set 300 years in the future and follows a young woman who is selected to be one of 25 suitors for the prince of La La Land or whatever it's called. Head will play the nation's king. [THR]

... The great Kurt Fuller has joined Fox's Friends and Family, a comedy pilot based on the British series Gavin & Stacey. Fuller (Supernatural) will play the father to the Gavin character, played by Jason Ritter (The Event). Also joining the cast is Reno 911's Kerri Kenney, who will play the mother of the Stacey character, played by Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls). You know that Ritter romanced Lauren Graham on Parenthood and is now romancing Bledel, and Graham and Bledel played mother and daughter in Gilmore Girls, right? Gross. [THR]


SUPER SAD NEWS

... Mary Tyler Moore Show star Valerie Harper has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Doctors have given her only months to live. The 73-year old, who also starred in Rhoda, previously battled lung cancer. [People]

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BOOOOOOOO!
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What Not To Wear is cancelled?! What? Well Stacy is looking a bit old, and Clinton has a new show, so I guess it is time. TLC should rename its network to 'freak show channel'.
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Good grief, arguably the worst thing about Wilmer is his almost unintelligibly thick accent. So it seems disastrous to cast him in a show in which the only part of him you'll get is his voice.

If you put him and Sofia Vergara in a show together, subtitles would be an absolute requirement.
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I have a six-year-old and she used to watch a disney jr show called Handy Manny. He has an accent, but it is not unintelligible.
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nice article :)
mlevi2538@gmail.com
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so Angel did this almost ten years ago, so if anybody's a genius for this idea, it's Joss Whedon...It was an amazing episode
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I don't care if Community is trying to be gimmicky in Dan Harmon's absence with an all puppet episode. Personally, I think it sounds pretty cool because I love the Muppets and Avenue Q, so I would love to see how they treat it.
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The word "Genius" gets thrown around a little too easily sometimes I think
I mean, Einstein was a genius
Hendrix with his Strat was a genius...
but yeah, Dan Harmon is a genius haha
The argument that Harmon only wrote a couple of episodes doesn't hold water with me
Joss Whedon only wrote a small percentage of episodes, but does anyone actually think that Buffy would have been the same without his vision, even with the same writers? I didn't think so
I have never understood the logic of blindly following a show, band, whatever and ignoring their faults or being in denial of a slip in quality...If your friends can't speak the truth to you, who can?
I don't think Community fans are whining as much as we're mourning the loss of a show we loved...it just isn't gone yet
I don't recognize this show or these people
It reminds of that one summer where all your friends had changed and when you went back to school you somehow knew things would never be quite the same
But I am hopeful, I will not prejudge this episode as I have not prejudged the previous four
but having seen about a quarter of the 4th season, while not entirely pessimistic
I am....leery
yeah, that's what I am...leery
call me leery...with my fingers crossed
Cheers
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I agree with you 100%. I won't lie and say that knowing that Dan Harmon and the other writers are gone doesn't affect my viewing, because it does. But it's not really in the way some people seem to think. It's more that it provides a reason for the things that I've been feeling this season. Believe me, I *want* to enjoy the show. I wish it more than anything (at least, anything TV related), because it's painful to watch a show and be so un-entertained by it (and by that, I don't mean just by Community standards, but by general comedy standards). And while, as I said, the idea of this episode makes me nervous based on what we've seen so far this season, I will be fully willing to go into the episode with an open mind, and hope that the writers win me over with the episode.
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another example of Community trying to be different just to be different.. didn't like the claymation, I don't see myself being too thrilled with this either. however I did like the video game episode.

I may check out The Selection, atleast the pilot.
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It's rather disturbing to think that the Dean has these puppet likenesses of the Community gang ready and waiting. When I first crushed on James Brolin back in his Marcus Welby days I definitely didn't think of him as a father figure. Now He's Jeff's father as well as Castle's.

Very sad news about Valerie Harper. I'm glad she had the courage to talk about it. It might just help someone else.
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Back in 2000, Gilmore Girls almost cast Alex Borstein as Sookie instead of Melissa McCarthy, but then Family Guy was un-cancelled (for the first time) and Alex became unavailable.

There's an alternate timeline where Alex got that first big role instead of Melissa, and she was in Bridesmaids instead and Mike and Molly and is now hosting SNL. So just remember, if you find Melissa annoying, it could be so much worse.
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Oh Community, yet another season 4 gimmick episode, that's sad. As for the puppets' likenesses, Pierce looks the best I think but mainly because they gave him smaller eyes which look out there. To be honest, all these puppet likenesses are pretty good, a lot of thought is put into the facial features - shapes of jaws and noses and cheeks and even eyes.

Not surprised that What Not to Wear is dead, I watched the recent episode with Shannon Elizabeth and the dressing duo were horrible, they were mean and arbitrary and didn't explain themselves at all, instead making catty comments and creating possibly the worst 2 sample outfits ever.

Excuse me? What you meant to say was "Kurt Fuller (Psych)", right Tim? RIGHT.

Sad news about Valerie Harper, that's awful.
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Of course Dan harmon is a genius when he uses claymation or anime. But when the new showrunners want to continue such traditions with puppets, it's a gimmick. Community fans went from the most loyal fans to the worst fans real quick
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It's not about the use of gimmicks per se, it that there seems to be no other purpose to those gimmicks but to use them for its own sake. There's no epiphany, no big revelation, no character growth. I repeat: I REALLY hope they can make this work. And by the way, I believe being a fan doesn't mean ignoring whatever is not working with the show.
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I'm only focusing on this aspect, I of course agree with other flaws and not ignoring them, I think its more that a lot of fans are writing it off before they even watch the episode, how can you expect some kind of epiphany when it seems that people are watching the show under a microscope analyzing every scene and detail, anything watched like that will be a let down.
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No, it's just too many gimmick episodes already in this season and now here comes another one.
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I know, Community hasn't been great (and tis true, it's glory days are in the rear view mirror), but it's starting to get unfairly bashed now no matter what (Timmy!) For example, the KFC episode was way overated imo (and full on shameless product placement). Not everything Harmon touched turned to gold. So everyone needs to take a chill pill....

It still has the same great cast, and is better than anything CBS puts out!
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Did any of you go to the link I posted?! Here it is again:

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/09/mf_harmon/

Dan Harmon? More like King Midas. Oh, and what was that about CBS?
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I did read the article and I do agree Dan is a genius, but I feel like everyone is just giving up on the show because it is a little worse quality wise. I miss Dan so much, but it feels like everyone is being so tough on the show comparing it to previous seasons where the bar was set so high
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It feels a little bit like complaining that the current cast of SNL isn't as good as some other cast. Which people have been saying for like 35 seasons now. Stop whining about what it isn't and enjoy what it is!
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Yes, thank you for speaking sense. I am getting a little sick of the harsh reviews and unwarranted bashing on this site. Community may not be quite as good as before but it is still Community!
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Thank you. Some people have Harmon tinted glasses. There were plenty of average and even some dud episodes in seasons 1-3. Episodes 1-3 of season 3 were only ok, and episode 3 was pretty annoying, to me anyway. Then comes Remedial Chaos Theory and suddenly it's a great season. I was surprised too when they copied the paintball episode from season 1 and made 2 episodes out of it for a season 2 finale. And while they were enjoyable, it had been done before so it felt like Harmon had run out of ideas.
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"Episodes 1-3 of season 3 were only ok, and episode 3 was pretty annoying, to me anyway. Then comes Remedial Chaos Theory... "

Episode 3 of season 3 WAS Remedial Chaos Theory, according to my DVD set. (Biology 101, Geography of Global Conflict, Remedial Chaos Theory, Competitive Ecology, Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps...)
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It's episode 4 on tv.com, they have Competitive Ecology in at 3? I don't have the box sets, so went by this (my memory isn't that good).
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Yeh, as much as I love "Community," not every episode is the perfect TV gem that some people make it out to be. There were handfuls of mediocre episodes thrown in here-and-there. And while I like PARTS of the Paintball2 episodes... they were nowhere near as awesome as the original.

That being said... I can see where the disappointment is coming from. So far this season they took some genuinely wacky CONCEPTS... but didn't go that last mile. Like Hunger Games bit didn't really go "too far" it just sort of flopped there while we saw some weak American Gladiator stuff.
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Troy and Abed made as puuupets!
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I switched off the claymation episode. I'm not at all interested in seeing a puppet episode. The only thing that makes me even think about it is the puppet episode of Angel. But that episode only had Angel as a puppet, and Spike laughing at him.
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That episode of Angel is one of my favorites.
- Wee little puppet man!
- I'm made of felt... and my nose comes off
- I do not have puppet cancer!
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Puppet Jeff does rather resemble Puppet Angel.
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illegally download? i pay the same telecommunications company for my monthly cable and monthly internet-- and even further, they run commercials with the tag line, that they believe i should get to watch my television whenever and wherever i want
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That casting of "Family and Friends" is making that show look better and better. Kurt Fuller and Kerry Kenney are two fantastic and funny character actors that seem to show up everywhere and always make whatever show they land on better. Ritter and Bledel are both likeable. Hopefully this show is better than the crap comedies this network just renewed.

NBC just doesn't care anymore, does it? That Matthew Lillard and John Stamos show soulds good, if it was 15 years ago.
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Terrible news. Valerie Harper was amazing in Mary Tyler Moore Show. I wish her the least amount of suffering possible, and that she fulfills everything she can on her bucket list before she goes if she must.
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Well, I think FringeFanatic, allielisa, and about 3 other comments have said everything I would have, wanted to, or have previously said about Community... so uhh... I really don't have anything to contribute at the moment. Wait, does this count as a contribution? Can a comment about not contributing actually be contributing? Ugh, I need to go back to sleep.
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While i love community, i'd rather offer my condolences to Valerie Harpers family, and hopefully her passing will not be too painful
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The Selection sounds kinda stupid but if Giles is in it I may try it.
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I think all of those Community puppets look creepy.
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Gross-ness aside, I actually have high hopes for the series. And I'll follow Giles anywhere.
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Sorry, TV.com-ians! I have totally comment bombed this forum. stanking is going to have my head.
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I read The Selection, and really liked it! Really hoping now this show does well, love Anthony Head. The nation is the future USA. So, Giles(and Uther Pendragon), is our (once and?) future King!
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If I heard the news about this Community episode in previous seasons, it would have filled me with excitement. Now... It fills me with a horrible dread. So far it seems like the new show-runners/writers do better when they distance themselves from this kind of thing, as seen by last week's episode.
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I'm sad because that Community episode synopsis sounds awful. I had hoped that Community was turning the corner but it's hard to stay optimistic when I see that news plus upcoming episodes called Advanced Documentary Filmmaking (why do we need another documentary episode?) and Advanced Introduction to Finality (stupid and derivative title).
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Honestly that synopsis sounds bad even without the puppets, which I would have gotten excited about in any other season.
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I agree with advanced filmmaking, but the second one makes sense, the first finality will be seen most likely as the real finale, this second one is at least the second possible series finale. Though it would of better to call it something else.
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What's next? An episode with stick figures?
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While the setup is lame, it's not anymore of a stretch than an episode in claymation or 8-bit.
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Yes it is.
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I agree that this set-up is a lot worse than the claymation episode, but I don't think it's that much worse than the set-up in the 8-bit episode. Having Pierce play a videogame as part of his father's will? Kind of sounds as silly/lame as this set-up. Though the difference is that Dan Harmon proved plenty of times before that episode that he was able to pull off such an episode, and he did so once again with that episode. These new show-runners, on the other hand, seem to have trouble pulling off these kinds of ideas, if the Hunger Games story and convention episodes are good indicators. Of course, I won't say it's impossible for them to pull it off, but I'm not nearly as excited for this idea as I would be if it was handled by Dan Harmon and the full writing team of the previous seasons.
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Sorry, I should have said @Gilda, but I'm glad you read the article. The circles are everywhere!
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Oh, I just remembered that I was referencing the season walkthroughs on AV club with Harmon (and the episode with the breakdown was Dinner with Abed)

Thanks for the article FF!

Yeah, I'm pretty much at ritualistic sacrifices now...:(
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Someone also questioned Harmon's influence on the show he created in the forum of last Community review. I directed them to an absolutely fantastic article I read in Wired Magazine. I implore everybody who is reading this to go to this link:

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/09/mf_harmon/

I just finished making a golden idol.
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@Gilda, I can't reply to you for some reason, but I think he actually wrote a fair number of them, and even so, he was still the showrunner (who ultimately has a huge influence on the tonal voice of a show). There's an article out there somewhere that I remember reading that described how he went through a lot writing/editing episodes (involving all-nighters of course, breakdowns in his office, thinking everyone would hate it). Additionally, it's not just Harmon who left though, it's Chris Mckenna, Dino, and a lot of the old writing staff :(
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How many episodes did Dan Harmon actually write? Cuz his name is brought up soooooo much since he got canned. Cuz i dont think he wrote many of the fan favorites (although I do think that he prob vetod alot of stupid ideas)
What surprises me (atleast what the cast has said in interviews) is that alot of the origional writers were still there for this season along with alot of the old directors. SO i am just wondering why these new episodes feel so different.
But i still have high hopes for this puppet episode (as long as they dont cut it too short cuz i really didnt like what they did with the hunger games plot)
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@FringeFanatic: Thank you, sir!
@Hungry_Homer: That's also one of the reasons I haven't enjoyed this season of Community. A spoof or a plot gimmick will get you so far, the story also needs some substance.
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I just read the response from PaulaGonzalez (I wish I could reply directly to that comment), and I've got to say I agree 100%. That's a big part of the reason why I dislike these special episodes so far, they seem to be special episodes for the sake of having special episodes, whereas the Dan Harmon special episodes were created to connect to the characters' stories, as well as being a brilliant spoof of the style.
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@PaulaGonzalez - "Nice ideas, but they are just a means to no end."

Nicely said!
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I totally get what you're saying. Let's hope we're all wrong and the new guys actually pull a "special" episode off.
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I really, really, really hope they can pull this off. The clay-mation and 8-bit format episodes are among my favorites. When they did it, it was fresh and original, and definitely risky, but the writers proved they could pull it off. "Angel" did a puppets episode, and it was amazing, certainly one of the bests of the series. But considering the current state of affairs of Community, it could go either way. Or it could go meh.
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Genuinely excited to see them in puppet form. We've seen them in clay-mation and 8-bit format in Digital Estate Planning, so why not puppets?
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It's not the fact they're puppets (I actually like the idea), it's the LAAAAAME setup to justify a puppet episode.

In "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas", Abed had a mental break from reality because of a card sent from his mother, telling him that she won't be coming for Christmas this year in order to spend the holiday with her new family. Abed couldn't accept this at first, and favored his delusion of searching for the meaning of Christmas, claymation style. Eventually with the help of his friends and a Christmas pterodactyl, Abed realized that "The meaning of Christmas is the idea that Christmas has meaning. And it can mean whatever we want."

THAT is a setup.
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well using puppets to live through their experiences doesnt actually sound like a lame set up. Why they look like the characters idk (but i can see the Dean having a collection of puppets with the study groups likeness, well a puppet of jeff at least)
I do however agree that the story of the ballon ride and meeting a mountain man does sound pretty stupid... my question is Is Jason Alexander a puppet too or himself? is it going to turn into like sesame street on us?
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Ditto to everything you said FF

You can't really build something if you don't first lay a foundation. The Stop-Motion Christmas worked because there was always kind of a long-con of telling the complexity of Abed's story (it didn't just come out of nowhere). Furthermore, I think that it worked because the "concept" episodes started out because they were homages, things that Harmon et al really loved and they wanted to show that. The Stop-motion Christmas really was an homage to Christmas (a la Rudolph or Frosty) just like Modern Warfare was also an homage to Battle Royale. I honestly don't feel the joy in any of these homages anymore. Stop-Motion Christmas and Digital Estate Planning all were huge in revealing who the characters are and solidifying their bonds with each other. Anyone who doesn't love that shot at the end of the episode where they're all sitting on the couch together un-stopmotioned doesn't have a soul :( Episodes like that just capture the essence of Community

I just want these inane concept episodes to just stop, because I feel like it's too much fluff and no purpose. I'd rather have a bottle episode where the characters can just be the people that I love :(
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A true Community fan! I could kiss you right now! ... In a totally platonic, non-pervy way.
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Haha! It's actually the best of the bunch so far, but that's not saying much. :(
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LMAO! You are truly streets ahead. I feel the same! (full disclosure: I haven't even seen the latest Community episode because it's too depressing now...)
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