By Matt Ern Columnist
The Following - “The Fall”
Keeping with this show’s tradition of increasing implausibility, Joe’s group of followers also includes plants in the FBI. I’m confounded and impressed by the show’s commitment to getting worse. Forget the ludicrous number of people working for Joe, as if that wasn’t bad enough we’re now supposed to believe he has numerous moles in multiple law enforcement agencies?
Something resembling another reveal this week is that Charlie was Claire’s “follower,” appointed by Joe to monitor her life while he was in prison. This of course begs the questions: did other people have their own “followers” tailing them? Is anyone keeping track of the myriad of serial killers working for Joe?
I didn’t realize until I sat down to write this that there are a crazy amount of characters on this show, and most of them are doing notable things even though they’re incredibly underdeveloped and one-dimensional. I have no idea what the names are of about 75% of the characters because they keep getting introduced and brutally murdered almost instantly.
It seems every time the plot needs to move forward a new character is just introduced to advance things. But the sheer number of plot-device characters means none of them have any depth, there’s no point in getting attached to them because they’ll either be dead soon or rendered irrelevant. Having lots of characters isn’t a fault in and of itself, but when they’re all instantly forgettable, well that’s when you might consider parsing things down. If you were on the internet at all last week you were probably inundated with news of the impending “30 Rock” finale. Luckily this review isn’t showing up in print until a week after the episode aired, so just when you thought you didn’t have to hear any more about the show, I can subject you to a few more hundred words about it.
Community - “Conventions...”
I’m really torn by this episode. On one hand, I enjoyed it a fair amount, but I’m also very sensitive to the fact that this new season of “Community” is hyper aware that it’s “Community.” The writers are doing things that they know fans of the show should love, like set an episode at an Inspector Spacetime Convention, but only because they seem to think that’s what everyone expects from the show. It’s almost like someone told the writers a loose synopsis of “Community” as a show with a lot of madcap adventures and meta commentary that lampoons pop-culture and they tried to recreate that without actually watching the show.
I can’t deny that I enjoyed the convention to some extent, but I’m also aware that it was given to me for kind of bogus reasons. I’d rather be surprised by a show, which is something the old “Community” was able to do every week. Maybe that’s a really convoluted reason for disliking the episode, but the whole conceit felt really cheap and forced to me.
It’s a slippery slope to start wondering, “Would Dan Harmon have written an episode like that?” because in the end it really doesn’t matter, the show is what the show is. But I also don’t think we ever would have gotten an Inspector Spacetime Convention episode with him at the helm. And maybe I wouldn’t care so much about the strange premise if everything else worked great, but the characters continue to revert to the one-note, season 1 versions of themselves. It’s frustrating to see two years of great character development disappear overnight.
The conflict between Troy and Abed didn’t feel nearly as real as what they went through last season. The pillow-fort episodes and Evil Abed storyline really did a much better job of putting their friendship through the wringer than Abed falling for a super-fan from England. There were no stakes to the conflict because obviously Abed wasn’t going to move away. And Annie’s fantasy marriage to Jeff also felt very out of place considering how much her character has grown. None of it really jived with where the show left off last.