Community: Intro to Knots (2013)

For several years, Community has been regarded as one of the best things on TV. I've been addicted since I checked out the first few holiday episodes. The most recent (and almost certainly the last) season of Community has been rocky. The show's creator, Dan Harmon, was fired last year, and a number of writers and directors left in solidarity. The network brought in some new writers to run the show. Overall, they've done a better job than most people expected, but they're certainly no substitutes for Harmon.

"Intro to Knots" should have aired in December, but the entire series got pushed back and it aired last Thursday. This episode was less driven by a gimmick than the last two Christmas episodes: no songs or animation. It was, according to Wikipedia, intended as an homage to "Rope," one of Alfred Hitchcock's movies. Well... I've never seen that. But I certainly recognized elements from other sources.

The plot revolved around the study group (with Chang filling in for Pierce) tying up their history professor (played by Malcolm McDowell) and trying to force him into giving them a passing grade. All of this occurred at the group's Christmas party. The Christmas tropes and gags kept the tone on the holidays, though it felt more like something set at Christmas than something about Christmas. All three of the previous Community Christmas specials felt like they were about the holidays: another reminder that Harmon's not around anymore.

All in all, it was a pretty decent episode - probably the best of the season so far. A lot of the credit goes to McDowell, who portrayed his character like a classic villain. Abed fell into the role of an observer and got a handful of great lines. Everyone felt a little out of character, but that's been an issue at least since the start of season three.

But I did find the jokes funny, and the situation was interesting. McDowell was great as a villain, though I found his reversal at the end cloying. It was flawed, but solidly entertaining. If you're a fan of the series, it's worth checking out. If you haven't seen any Community yet, do yourself a favor and start at the beginning.