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TV That Matters: Made Men, Community

By Matt Ern Columnist

 

Mad Men- "To Have and to Hold"

Grade: A-

A secret pitch to Heinz Ketchup is the driving force behind most of the action in “To Have and to Hold” but there’s plenty of other plotlines coming to a head as well. The agency already has the Heinz Beans account, and even pitching to Ketchup could result in losing it due to bad blood over at Heinz.  So Don, Stan, and Pete work on a pitch without telling Beans representative Ken.  Once word gets out about “Project K,” they lose Beans, and ultimately Ketchup as well because Peggy’s new agency swoops in at the last minute. Stan mentioned the pitch to Peggy offhandedly, who let it slip to her boss.  Now Stan knows Peggy inadvertently sold them out. The highlight of the episode was Don listening in on Peggy’s pitch to Ketchup.  When she uses one of Don’s own lines in the pitch, the look on his face as he turns away from the door says it all.  Peggy’s on fire and she learned from the best. The episode offers something for all of the show’s female leads, not just Peggy’s big victory in the pitch.  Joan has a friend visiting from out of town and laments the way she still gets treated like a secretary even though she’s a partner at the agency now.  But as her friend points out, it doesn’t matter if the others are jerks, she’s made it and the world is sitting in front of her for the taking.  Also intersecting in Joan’s storyline is Don’s secretary Dawn, who comes under fire from Joan when she helps another woman sneak out of work.  Dawn’s a very interesting character who hasn’t been developed much yet, but the episode offers a strong first step into learning more about her. Megan is given a love scene, at work, which bodes well for her career but also strains things between her and Don.  He isn’t particularly supportive or happy for her, and shows up to the set to watch the scene.  He snaps at Megan, insulting her for kissing another man for money, but as she points out he’s done very little to support her career.  The first time he comes down to the set to watch her is out of jealousy.

Community- "Intro to Knots"

Grade: C-

Like most episodes this season, I have very mixed feelings about “Intro to Knots.”  The premise is pretty strange, the study group invites their professor to their Christmas party to try and get him to raise their grade, but when Chang ties him up they hold him hostage until he gives them their A. Many of the best episodes of “Community” revolve around pretty out-there conceits like a zombie outbreak in the school or a massive, campus-wide paintball war.  And while those things are completely unrealistic, they were done in a way that made totally sense within the context of the show.  “Community” can get away with almost any plot it wants, as long as it stays true to the characters.  That’s how so many different genres and tropes have been able to be covered over the show’s four seasons. But, something about the study group tying someone up and demanding a better grade feels completely off and that took me out of the episode completely. It’s kind of entertaining to watch Jeff and Professor Cornwallis bounce off each other, but not enough to salvage what boils down to one of the weakest episodes in an already weak season. Cornwallis’ ability to exploit the divisions in the group feels the most like “Community,” but then the final reveal that Cornwallis was never really trapped and was simply avoiding another lonely Christmas alone came out of nowhere. The episode treats this like an emotional climax, but it isn’t really earned. Then, things fall apart even more at the very end. We get a completely unnecessary return to season three’s “Darkest Timeline,” and another bit about Chang faking his amnesia in order to get the study group expelled. It seems like the season is gearing up to something big for the last stretch of episodes, but it feels completely hallow and unnecessary.

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