Community Review: House on Haunted Hill

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A Halloween episode on Valentine's Day? How wacky! What will those kooky Community writers think of next, am I right, guys??

The Gang's Halloween Surprise

I kid, I kid. "Paranormal Parentage" was certainly not intended to air on National "Overpriced Dinner At The Only Place Where I Could Get A Reservation, Sorry" Day; its scheduling was yet another victim of the show's protracted battles over this past year. And its airing today is yet another reminder of the off-screen drama haunting this new season, of the big black cloud hanging over the heads of the Greendale Seven.

The Halloween episode is one of Community's great traditions, and for the committed fan of the first three seasons, "Paranormal Parentage" was a bit of a miss - though there were some classic Community quotes and zingers afoot (and who could resist that painting of Chevy Chase riding a tiger?). Jeff and Britta's repartee was a bit less sparky that it has been in the past, Shirley's confessions of her hell-raising past was a little less clever and Annie's The Ring joke was Scary Movie-level cheesy, and felt wildly out of place.

But this episode wasn't about pleasing the old fans. For all the ink that's been spilled analyzing fan reaction to the "new" Community, the clear purpose of Community Season 4 is to draw in new viewers, viewers who were put off by the (mostly fun, but occasionally totally oppressive) in-joke-filled, call-back-stuffed nature of the "old" Community.

And in fulfilling that purpose, this half hour furthered the Troy-and-Britta subplot, and just generally introduced new viewers to who these people are and what they're about.

Is Community a machine that can bear this kind of smoothing of its rough edges? That remains to be seen. Though I've been a devoted fan of Community since it first aired, I don't think the show was perfect in its previous incarnation, and I don't think it must inevitably flounder in creator Dan Harmon's absence. I'll be interested to see where it goes and how it tries to balance the things that make Community unique with the kinds of plots that are more accessible to new viewers.

But I do hope the new show runners are careful. Community is a delicate ecosystem, and if they upset the balance too much - too many pop culture parodies done for their own sake, too many silly gags, too many easy emotional explanations - we could have a less-funny knock-off of How I Met Your Mother or Happy Endings on our hands. In which case, I will be polishing the floors of my own panic room...

Did you enjoy the stroll through Pierce's haunted mansion? What did you think about him asking Gilbert to live with him? And was that thing with the wall a reference to The Frighteners?


Editor Rating: 3.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.4 / 5.0 (65 Votes)

I patiently waited for community to finally return. I thought the first episode was good though a bit of a let down for a Season opener. This episode was however a major disappointment and very telling for how the rest of the season is going to play out. They are furthering the plot by simply lifting previous sce9ne and story lines from seasons past. I thought the Jeff Annie pairing had lost their magic and the daddy issue didn't need to be brought up this way. Seriously the Pierce lashes out because he feels left out storyline?? This in my opinion was totally uninspired. The magic wasn't there. Everything has been dumbed down.the characters aren't quite acting like themselves. The writers were brought in to make the show more accessible but its killing the magic. We don't need stupid over the top jokes, we don't need another happy ending. The Dean showed up and sort of threw himself into the flow. Now it feels like the cast is setting him and he's waiting for his cue.


I'm sorry, but I disagree with those who say that the show hasn't changed so far this season, without Dan Harmon. I'm not saying it's bad, but the change is absolutely noticeable. And no, I'm not trying to "force the narrative" on this - I really don't care who's running the show as long as it's still funny and irreverent! So far it's pushing the boundaries of being boring to me. Still great characters, but hopefully it picks up a bit.


I don't give two craps if "new viewers" find S4 "more accessible", which IMO is code for "dumb". The show is no longer funny. Good job, NBC!


this episode was a painful miss for me. i'm a hugely devoted fan so i always look for the good, but this was hard to even watch. i found myself wishing i had watched Big Bang Theory instead. sorry, but to me, without Dan Harmon, this show is going down fast.


I agree with everyone who has said that this was a solid episode.
There was lots of character development and I liked that. I think it's exactly what this show needs but it also needs to balance out the laughs with it. I thought this episode was better than probably half of season three because it actually had significance and furthered the story along.
I hope the rest of the season can continue on this track. Plus: are Jeff and Annie ever going to get together? It's been teased for 3 years now and I'm honestly getting tired of waiting for something else to happen. The writers need to either make it happen or stop teasing it.


Agreeing with the folks suggesting that reviewers are forcing a "it's not the same! Dan Harmon's gone! It was kind of a miss!" sort of thing. I've also been a devoted Community fan since its inception, and I thoroughly felt this was a solid, entertaining Community episode. I understand everyone's opinions are subjective, but I think people's criticisms of the show are far more forced than they insist the dialogue and plots are. Guys, Dan's gone. I miss him too but the current showrunners are doing the best we can, and as fans of the show, we should WANT this show to succeed. The new guys are doing a pretty good job. Let them try to save this show.


I thought this was a solid episode. It was light on the laughs, but it found a better balance between the reference humour (that Annie hates LOL) and the heart of the show. We saw growth in both Pierce and Jeff, and solid acting from the whole group. This was a GREAT episode for character development, and the show didn't feel like a parody of itself like last week's. Quite frankly, if we didn't know that Harmon was gone, this episode wouldn't have made it obvious, and I think folks are looking for the decline more so than the similarities. It was quite on par with regular Community.


As far as Halloween themed episodes of Community go, this one fell flat. However, as far as Community episodes go, this one wasn't bad. There was a moment when Pierce said "Ghosts can't go through doors, stupid. They're not fire!" It was such a weird and random joke to call back to and I think that was the moment that I realized that maybe this new Community isn't such a far cry from Harmon's. Even though they're trying to broaden their scope a little bit, things can still be just as good. I also really hope we get to see more of Giancarlo Esposito this season. I associate him so much with Breaking Bad that I think it'd be really nice to see him in something funny.


Unbelievably poor.


Agree with RajBauer and Dan. As a guy who owns the Seasons on DVD and has virtually memorized Season one and two of Community, I thought this was a solid episode. It's going to be impossible to avoid the 'Dan Harmon is gone' stigma on Community, but I really feel like everyone is forcing the narrative now. This was a solid episode with some good jokes and a heartfelt conclusion, which is really all I need from Community sometimes. I know that some people enjoy it for the genre-defying trope subverting stuff it pulls, but I actually enjoy a laid back Community more. Season three went a bit too far up its own ass at times, and I'm almost taken aback at how people are viewing Season 4. I mean c'mon, yeah it's a little bit different, but I don't see the steep decline in quality some of you are finding. Season 3 had some really, and I mean REALLY, bad episodes. Some episodes with almost no laughs (the Dreamatorium episode), and some episodes that fell pretty flat overall (Contemporary Impressionists). If you enjoyed those miles ahead of these episodes, then by all means I respect your opinion. But I really think there's a huge case of selective memory going around. Dan Harmon was a damn genius, and I respected his ambitions. I would have preferred him keeping the show, but I'm completely excited for a Community that will hopefully keep the characters a bit more grounded. I'll talk small-time Halloween episodes over Chang kidnapping the dean for months any day of the week (that said, I did enjoy that episode). Peace

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Community Season 4 Episode 2 Quotes

Pierce: If you knew what spooked me, you'd probably call me crazy and old.
Jeff: No one's going to call you, Pierce.

I remember when this show was about community college.