Ah, Halloween. Surely the perfect excuse for a movie obsessed TV show to stop referencing and actually become the movie they always wanted to be. And so it is for Community, with their seasonal offering of a night/dawn/Shaun of the dead zombie smorgasbord.
The annual college costume party, complete with infected military surplus buffet, kicks off proceedings, with Pierce the first to go zombie, rapidly followed by the rest of the college. What follows is a Romero- inspired homage-fest, the likes of which are rarely seen. As you’ve no doubt noticed, Community is a show by nerds for nerds, and Epidemiology is a hardcore nerd’s dream.
Not only do zombies abound, but there’s a b-story involving Troy’s shedding of his nerd affiliations due to the lack of female interest in his homemade Ripley costume. Who knew cardboard robot armour wouldn’t attract the ladies? As Jeff bitchily points out, reminding girls of their devoutly Comi-Con worshipping little brothers never got anyone laid. Ever get the feeling the writers are working out some demons through the medium of TV? You’d be right.
Despite a brief foray into sexy Dracula territory, Troy re-embraces his inner nerd, saves the day, and even gets to partake in some classic, and hilarious Star Wars quotage. As a show essentially set around the life lessons necessary to survive at college, it’s unsurprising that being happy with who you are is the lesson at the forefront of this episode, and considering that there’s a good chance most of the show’s team have been accused of nerdery in the past, the TV as therapy angle could be a little grating. Luckily, the show is so well written, and performed with so much warmth, that even a little self-indulgent therapy is easily forgiven.
For a show that revels in its pop culture knowledge, you’d think that a zombie episode would be an excuse for much over the top hilarity, but Epidemiology is surprisingly subdued. Outside of the usual through-arcs of the season, and with the problem of having to solve the zombie issue by the end of the episode, the usual opportunities for gags are fewer than we’re used to. Having said that, some of the visual gags are priceless.
Pierce’s Capt. Kirk, Dr PotteryWood’s banana phallus and Troy’s toilet paper-based sexy Dracula costume are fabulous, as is Jeff and Annie’s insistence on continuing as normal despite their zombification. When have you ever known a zombie to study, or stand around nonchalantly texting other zombies?
Being a Halloween episode, it has its disturbing moments as well, namely the scary resemblance Dean Pelton has to Lady Gaga, alongside his obsession with Abba, both of which will stay with you long after the credits roll, but the most disturbing moment comes courtesy of the superbly creepy Senor Chang, and his coupling with Shirley in the bathroom.
Yup, Chang finally gets some, in the form of the devoutly Christian Shirley, but it’s not so much the coupling that’s disturbing. It’s watching Miss Piggy (Shirley) make out with Peggy Fleming (Chang) that does it. Although watching Miss Piggy make out with anyone at all would be disturbing. And despite the fact that Shirley is actually dressed as Glenda the good witch, once the resemblance to La Piggy is pointed out, you won’t be able to ignore it.
As you would expect, the episode is shot fantastically well, in the style to which zombie lovers have become accustomed, with low lighting and lots of odd angles. The Abba soundtrack, while disturbing, is also hilariously literal in places, and while this may not be a classic Community homage-fest, it’s definitely one of the better Halloween themed shows you’ll see this year.
And, as bizarre as this sounds, they get extra points for even having the slightest notion of who David Beckham is, although, once Jeff loses the football, he’s just Ryan Seacrest at college. Still, it’s nice that they tried.
Expect normal classes to be resumed next week, and hopefully some fallout from the Shirley/Chang bunk up, but until then, try not to have nightmares…
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