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52
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Viewer
72
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NBC

52
/100
Viewer
55
/100

Episode 5 - Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations

8 March 2013

Again the writers tackle a major aspect of the show (Jeff’s relationship with his father) and reach the conclusion which sit com’s always do: that Jeff’s new family make him happier than his biological one.

That was a pleasant conclusion but the actual meetup with his Dad was mixed. The big confrontation worked out ok. Naturally Jeff went in not wanting to get emotional and so his Dad responded well and took a step too far by claiming some credit for abandoning him. Jeff lays the smack down and feels better. Ok. But the choice to give Jeff an overly emotional half-brother was an awkward distraction. Willie was written and performed as too much of an exaggeration and beat us over the head repeatedly with the idea that he was the opposite of Jeff.

Similarly it seemed bizarre that Britta would impose herself on Jeff’s family like this. Britta has been through a character transformation since Season One and it’s never completely clicked. To see her dancing with joy at a diagnosis or telling Jeff he may want to have sex with his Dad were moments which undermined her as a plausible character. It was also a bit uncomfortable that she was witnessing such intimate moments in Jeff’s life when she used to sleep with him and is now dating Troy. I appreciate that the two of them have a bond but I don’t really buy that it extends to this level.

The story over at Shirley’s was simplistic. Annie, Troy, Abed and Pierce want to escape the awkward in-law thanksgiving without realising that Shirley needs them. There were two big problems with this. One is that we never saw the family that the gang wanted to escape. Whenever major incidents happen off screen you leave your audience crying B.S. It just reminds us that there is no awkward family next door and we are just watching actors.

The second problem was the idea that the gang could politely hang out in the garage for such extended periods of time without Shirley’s family intervening. I know Thanksgiving can be an all day affair but the prison break analogy fell down because of this inherent implausibility. It also marked a pattern with these first five episodes where the writers make Abed internalise every last detail as some kind of narrative to the point where he doesn’t seem to do much else. And they reduce Pierce to only a few lines and off screen pratfalls. It’s no surprise that Chevy Chase quit the show given the lack of material he had to work with. I should point out that at this point Pierce isn’t adding much so I’m not saying the show runners were wrong to reduce his role.

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  • This was a strange episode.

    The Jeff stuff was really good, and there were some funny gags here and there (gay Batman), but everything about the group's behavior at Shirley's was just so inexplicable it reminded me of season 8 of The Office.

    I don't understand how going to someone's party, hiding in her garage like children and rummaging through her stuff is less rude than just leaving?

    Why couldn't they "escape" by just sneaking out a back door or window?

    Why did they accept Shirley's invitation in the first place?

    These people spend all of their time interacting with the nuts at Greendale, yet they can't tolerate a few hours talking to Shirley's supposedly annoying family members? It also would have been nice to have seen what was so terrible about them. An old man had gas and someone called Batman gay? That's it?

    And are they running the episodes out of order? A few episodes ago Troy and Britta were inseparable, but tonight they hardly looked at each other. Wouldn't Troy be a but uneasy about Britta spending Thanksgiving with Jeff?

    This ambiguity was particularly distracting during the car scene with Jeff and Britta. If Britta is in a serious relationship with Troy that "moment" with Jeff becomes somewhat ominous.

    Viewer score: 55 / 100

    Posted by Perd Vert, 08/03/2013 11:00am (7 years ago)

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