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Community “Paranormal Parentage” Review
“Paranormal Parentage” is one of the most tangible examples of how Community’s fourth season hasn’t exactly gotten star treatment from NBC. This Halloween episode, pushed back to mid-February by the network, unfortunately has problems that do not stop with its odd, yet unavoidable timing.
The central plot in this episode follows the study group’s attempts to rescue Pierce from his haunted manor while avoiding his late father’s ghost. The plot has a lot of promise, as the show had never revealed Pierce’s giant, inherited house before, but it was a bit of a letdown. There are some interesting rooms in the manor, but it did not exceed expectations. Over the course of the show, there have been many references to weird things in Pierce’s manor, but when the actual manor was revealed, there was not anything new, totally unexpected, something that is ironically expected in a good Community episode. The resolution of this plot was just as much of a letdown, with little major development or change in the greater story, with one exception.
The best part of this episode was short, but vitally important. This was the conversation between Jeff and Britta about how Jeff had found his father. One of the most elegant, yet ironic elements of Community is that Jeff, the most down-to-earth looking member of the study group, is really the most messed up one of them all. Just as Pierce’s mansion has finally been revealed after being hinted at for years, it seems as though Jeff will finally get the chance to meet his father after being conflicted about the issue for many episodes.
Unfortunately, besides this little side-plot that took up only two or three scenes, there are no side-plots to speak of. This episode was quite linear and simple, which is very atypical for a show like Community. The relationship between Troy and Britta was left largely undeveloped, as was the one between Jeff and Annie.
This is only the second episode of this season of Community, but I am becoming a bit concerned. The new showrunners who replaced creator Dan Harmon, David Guarascio and Moses Port, seem tempted to dig deep into the Community’s inside references and make them a reality. After this week’s look inside Hawthorne Manor, the gang will reportedly be going to an Inspector Spacetime (Abed and Troy’s favorite TV show) conference in next week’s episode. When Harmon was running the show, these references were never fleshed out too much, and I am beginning to think that this mysteriousness was for the best; I wish that Hawthorne Manor was still in my imagination after being underwhelmed with this episode.
Ultimately, besides the intriguing storyline about Jeff’s father, this was an incredibly underwhelming episode of Community. I can only hope that future episodes will be more daring and inspired.
Community airs Thursday at 8/7 central on NBC.