Recap: Community S 3 E 19 Curriculum Unavailable
Two months have passed since the "Greendale Seven" were expelled
. Having spent the intervening time drinking, eating unhealthy meals at Troy and Abed's apartment, and generally dwelling on their years at Greendale to an obsessive degree, they are forced to face their situation when Abed is discovered in full Inspector Spacetime
costume on the community college campus again
. Taken into custody and insisting that the Dean has been replaced by a fraud, he is given the choice between therapy and jail time, and the entire group accompanies him to see a recommended psychiatrist (John Hodgman). Soon, however, they discover that all may not be as it seems and the therapy visit could change their lives forever.
Tropes appearing in this episode of Community include:
- Actor Allusion:
- It's not surprising that the camera cuts to Annie after Abed does his Don Draper impression again.
- Also counts as a Call Back to when Abed used this impression to hit on Annie.
- Dr. Heidi refers to Abed as "the Indian kid". Although Abed is actually Arabic-Polish, as Shirley and Abed point out, Danny Pudi is in fact of Indian-Polish descent.
- John Hodgman plays a psychologist. The other psychologist in the show is also played by a Daily Show correspondent named "John."
- Though he claims it was unintentional, it's hard not to think of the Judge John Hodgman podcast when Dr. Heidi says "I think I have everything I need to make my decision."
- Adult Fear: In The Tag, Troy wishes that your nightmares be spooky monsters scary, and not "grandma died" scary.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The reasons stated for various study group members being at Greendale include divorce, lost scholarship, pill addiction, and disbarment. Pierce's reason is simply stated as "old."
- Baby Talk: In one flashback, it would appear that Greendale offers a class on this.
- Bedlam House: The fictional Greendale Asylum; patients are crammed into locked, badly-lighted wards in straitjackets, while orderlies either watch their antics in amusement or abet sadistic experiments performed by the lab-coated doctors in charge.
- Berserk Button: Shirley learns the hard way not to favourably compare Brett Ratner with Steven Spielberg in front of Abed.
Abed: You're a bad person. You're a bad person.
- Big "NO!": Subverted. Abed's reaction to having to see Chicago is not a Big "NO!" as would be expected, but a Big Lame.
- Blatant Lies: They're briefly suckered in, but it takes the study group all of five seconds after leaving his office to realize that Dr. Heidi has been feeding them these and they have loads of evidence to prove him wrong. This doesn't stop him from trying to convince them that he's the Devil and they're in purgatory, however. Only Troy actually falls for it.
- Book Safe: Shirley finds a book in the library with a handgun-shaped cutout.
- Brick Joke: Officer Cackowski recommends against using the brick to prop open the outer door as it was used in "Remedial Chaos Theory" (Annie, who removed the brick last time, glares at Troy) ... because it's an antique worth $60. Then he warns them that rapes are up 8%. Bonus points for actually involving a brick (compare to the buttered Noodle Incident from "Foosball And Nocturnal Vigilantism").
- Cassandra Truth: Abed knew that the Dean had been replaced for the entire two skipped months.
- Call Back:
- The homeless guy in the study room from "Spanish 101":
Dean: (through the library’s PA system) In order to increase awareness of the homelessness, security has been given binoculars.
- The psych test results from "Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps":
Jeff: I mean, if anything, Abed's more sane than any of us.
- Annie does her trial of "Troy and Abed and Annie in the Morning" wearing the same outfit as her guest spot on "Troy and Abed in the Morning".
- At the "Wigging Out" party, Jeff has the same fixation with his jacket as in "Epidemiology".
- Abed abridges his Don Draper impression from "Physical Education" with Annie again visibly affected by it.
- Dr. Heidi asks if the group can speak Spanish. Of course they can't — they didn't learn any. Heidi knows this detail because Chang briefed him.
- The fact that the Dean was announcing a fire through a megaphone makes sense when you remember that Greendale's fire alarm system is fake. His fireman costume ties in with his fireman fetish.
- The Greendale Asylum flashbacks: the trampoline, paintball combat, "Baby Boomer Santa", doing a clip show, doing a bottle episode, doing another clip show, Harrison Ford, Abed remembering camping and painting the nursery causing Troy's scream, Pierce's random interjection of having sex with Eartha Kitt, and Annie's lost pen.
- In the background of the "Wigging Out" party can be heard the song "Party Where Your Heart Is" from The Art of Discourse.
- Abed trying to remove his own tonsils in order to avoid seeing a doctor was probably brought about by negative experiences with hospitalization when he was a kid, as shown in his autobiographical documentary.
- His reluctance to see Dr. Heidi also calls back to "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas", where he also automatically responded to Professor Duncan's suggestions of therapy with "I don't need therapy." The earlier episode also required the entire study group to be there to help him through it as well.
- It's not the first time Abed narrated someone's life.
- Troy says "Uh oh" after Pierce shows off more of his senility.
- Ceiling Banger/Big "Shut Up!": Annie resorts to this in The Tag.
- Cerebus Retcon: The Study Group, and by extension the audience, is led to believe this is happening to the entire three years at Greendale. Subverted: it takes the study group all of five seconds after leaving Dr. Heidi's office (well, it takes Pierce a bit longer) to realize that he's feeding them a load of horseshit and that they have copious amounts of evidence to prove him wrong.
- Clip Show: Like Paradigms Of Human Memory the idea is spoofed. Hell it even references Paradigms Of Human Memory.
- The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: the very "monomania" which gets Abed to emergency management.
- Comically Missing the Point:
- Dr. Heidi's dramatic declaration that Greendale Community College does not exist causes Troy to realize... that he parked by a meter.
- Troy again, when he rides a brand new quad-bike into the study room in a flashback:
Annie: Troy, you can't bring that in here!
Troy: Yes I can! It's all-terrain, dummy!
- Cordon Bleugh Chef: Troy's dish made entirely of junk food.
- Cuckoo Nest: According to the psychiatrist, the group's experiences at "Greendale" are part of a shared delusion stemming from years together in an mental asylum. This turns out to be a load of lies, however.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The Film Noir paintball flashback.
- Department of Redundancy Department: The Dean mentions "Jeffrey" twice in his non-birthday song to the group in one of the flashbacks.
- Died in Your Arms Tonight: The Dean and Abed.
- Dramatic Thunder: Once Dr. Heidi reveals the awful truth. Which is a lie.
- Dresses the Same: The Dean runs Darcy off due to her wearing the same clothes as Annie.
- Dutch Angle: Just before the revelation of Greendale Asylum, there are several rapid shots that use this technique. Troy also gets an individual one when he's the only one who buys into Dr. Heidi's suggestion that they're dead and he's the Devil before Jeff slaps him out of it.
- The Ending Changes Everything: Dr. Heidi tries to pull this on the study group, but they see through it pretty quickly.
- Enforced Method Acting: Tried and failed, according to the DVD Commentary: In the first take, Joel didn't warn Donald that he was going to slap him, hoping the reaction would be more genuine, but Donald ended up laughing instead.
- Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Dr. Heidi literally invokes this at one point but by this point no one's buying it.
- Failed a Spot Check: While the group is remembering some of the deranged things Chang has done, Dr. Heidi sneaks out the window without any of them noticing.
- Fake Nationality: Lampshaded. See Actor Allusion.
- Fan Fic Fuel: A proposed alternate history of the series in which all of the depicted events took place on some level... but in the locked ward of an insane asylum? A field day for speculative/AU writers.
- Foreshadowing: Upon returning Abed to the apartment, Officer Cackowski mentions that it was the Dean who gave him Dr. Heidi's card and recommendation. Considering we saw the Dean get replaced by Fauxby in the previous episode, it's a pretty big clue for the audience (if not at that point the characters) that Dr. Heidi is not entirely on the level.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: The chalkboard behind Troy when he rides into the Study Room says:
1. They may not want to play with you any more.
2. It can lead to permanent buzz kill.
3. It could cause them to need meds the rest of their life.
4. Meth can turn present fun into future numb.
So if someone offers to tell you a "meth time story" ... pass.
"If grieving you is wrong... I don't want to be right." C. Hawk Bored
- From Bad to Worse: A flashback shows Abed freaking out about the janitor moving the clock back:
Troy: (stroking Abed's head) It's okay, buddy. Just a few more minutes and we're good til spring, okay?
Abed: (panicked) But it doesn't make any sense!
Annie: Think of it this way: we get the hour back later in the year.
AAAAA- (scene change)
- Funny Background Event: When Troy is in the centre of a dramatic Dutch Angle and music sting when he's the only one to buy into Dr. Heidi's claim of being the Devil, Jeff can audibly be heard incredulously / skeptically yelling "What?!"
- Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Jeff slaps Troy to keep him from falling for another of Heidi's Mind Screw explanations.
- Gilligan Cut:
Jeff: Wait; give me a break! That made no sense!
Dr. Heidi: Yeah, It's me. No, I think they bought it.
- Gory Discretion Shot: The camera cuts away before Troy's karate chop strikes the table.
- Groin Attack: Chang uses a stun gun on himself twice, probably as Training from Hell.
- Group Hug: The group has one at the end, contrasting with the Dean's failed one last episode.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Dr. Heidi is PC!
- Hidden Depths: Officer Cackowski, the recurring police officer, is a fan of Inspector Spacetime ("If this were Comic-Con, I'd take a bullet for that kid.") and watches a lot of Antiques Roadshow to the point where he is able to identify an antique pre-Civil War brick.
- Hong Kong Dub: In the fake asylum scenes, Garrett as an evil psychiatrist is very obviously dubbed over.
- Human Chess: Used to determine parking spaces.
- Hypocritical Humor:
- Britta announces that the stories they've just told Dr. Heidi are a reflection of the study group's solidarity ... seconds before squeezing Troy's wounded hand.
We just finished telling him about it, and then you grab it and squeeze it
- And then Troy offers it to Abed in a handshake, before pulling away.
- At the potluck dinner in the beginning of the episode, Britta whines about all the "poison" food and how she needs organic food to help her hangover.
- I Have This Friend: Britta is wondering how long peyote lasts, you know, for a friend.
- I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder:
Dr. Heidi: I'm a fake psychiatrist not a fake ethnologist!
- Lampshade Hanging: Literally, Dr. Heidi´s office has an unusual amount of lampshades.
- Late to the Punchline: Troy, then Pierce.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In "Troy and Abed and Annie in the Morning"
Troy: What are all these cameras doing here?
- The Main Characters Do Everything: Lampshaded by the psychiatrist regarding the Study Group; he uses this is "evidence" that everything they did was imaginary.
- Milestone Celebration - Pierce's 10,000th flush.
- Mind Screw: Dr. Heidi pulls several of these on the study group. Subverted, as it doesn't take them very long to realize he's just making stuff up.
- Mushroom Samba: In one of the flashbacks, Britta shows up to the study room with wild, frizzed hair full of various small items, ruined day-old makeup, and presumably a banana in her pants. As she sits down, she nonchalantly asks for a friend how long peyote lasts.
- Narrating the Present: Played with in a flashback scene:
Abed: Time enough at last to eat a sandwich. Though even he knew that this sandwich was nearer his last sandwich than his first.
Pierce: Abed, I'm trying to eat.
Abed: He said, oldly. His brittle bones straining to support the weight of his wrinkly skin.
Pierce: Stop narrating me.
Abed: He shouted, to no one. Just a man, alone in time with nothing but the cold squishiness of tuna salad to comfort him.
Pierce: (getting up and leaving) I take it back, I don't want to be in your novel.
Abed: Pierce Hawthorne had nearly lost his grip on reality. Lately he'd begun to think that he was in a novel.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Chang could have dealt with Abed by pressing charges and getting a restraining order. The alternate solution of getting Abed committed snowballs into an attempt to convince the whole study group that they're crazy and drive them away from Greendale. The session just serves to help them realize that Abed's right and that the Dean has been replaced with an impostor.
- Keep in mind that even if the "Dean" did press charges against Abed, it could have blown up in his face too. Such as the study group confronting the "Dean" and realizing he was a fake by themselves.
- Noodle Incident:
- Due to Abed's aversion to doctors, the group had to prevent him from removing his own tonsils.
- As with "Paradigms of Human Memory" all of the flashbacks are things which happened in episodes we didn't see.
- Out of Focus: Lampshaped when Pierce doesn't get a "crazy-town banana pants" flashback and later complains that he isn't in most of the stories.
- Paintball Episode: Averted, but another one happened off-screen. This time it was with a Film Noir theme & Abed won. After the theapy session, the group all agree that the idea is played out.
- Psycho Psychologist: Evil Psychiatrist Garrett withholds treatment to see what reactions he can elicit by playing mind games with his patients.
- Real Men Hate Affection: After Troy misunderstands "little misadventures", he breaks off from putting his arm around Abed to shake with his injured hand.
- Ship Tease:
- Annie once again looks very taken with Abed's "Don Draper" impression. Their kiss in the Season 2 finale is also called back to as seen in the Greendale Asylum scenes.
- Britta attempts to hold Troy's very bruised hand. Hilarity Ensues.
- Skyward Scream: "Lame!"
- Stealth Pun: Dr. Heidi, PsyD◊.
- Take That:
- Dr. Heidi's example of a shared delusion is the swing dance music revival in The Nineties.
- To director Brett Ratner.
- "You have to understand about Abed; he's usually, you know, adorable-weird, like Mork from Ork. But since we got expelled, he's been creepy-weird like present-day Robin Williams."
- Taking the Bullet/Died in Your Arms Tonight: During the paintball flashback, the Dean covers Abed with his body.
- Teacher's Pet: Inverted; they don't do a lot of sucking up to him in this episode (or over the series in general) but there's a lengthy montage that establishes, if this wasn't already abundantly quite clear, that the study group are the Dean's favourite students in the entire school. It's what helps the group realize that there's something wrong at Greendale and that the Dean would never have stabbed them in the back like they were led to believe he did; he loves them too much.
- Time Skip: The biggest one on the show so far, with the exception of past summer breaks. The narrative picks up two uneventful months after the cliffhanger at the end of the last episode, and the viewer is brought up to speed with a few seconds of dialogue.
- A two month Time Skip also allows the show to get back to The Present Day, since the spring premiere was delayed by almost exactly two months.
- Tomato in the Mirror: The ending essentially lampoons these and TV series that use them: Dr. Heidi reveals that the study group are in fact psychiatric patients, and their experiences at Greendale were all just a shared psychosis! Except they're not, they weren't, it takes the group all of five seconds after leaving his office to realize that this makes no sense whatsoever, and they provide a lengthy list of reasons why this cannot be the case at all. Then Dr. Heidi reveals that they're in purgatory and he's the Devil! Which they dismiss completely out of hand.
- Tough Love: Shirley's kids eat some cookies that she made for the study group. As punishment she gives away their favorite possessions.
- Umpteenth Customer: 10,000th Flush.
- Wham Episode: Subverted, since the big reveal that would have made this a Wham Episode turns out to have been completely made up.
- Wham Line:
Dr. Heidi: But you can't go back to Greendale!
Britta: Why, because is isn't healthy?
Dr. Heidi: Because it doesn't exist.
- It's actually a lie.
- Later, averted and lampshaded:
Troy: I knew it!
] Stop letting him make you realize things.
- What Could Have Been: The role of Dr. Heidi was originally written for Nathan Fillion, who had to pull out due to scheduling conflicts.
- Funny enough, there had been SEVERAL roles written for John Hodgman in the past (including City College Dean Spreck) that HE had to pull out of.
- What the Fu Are You Doing?: Troy believes that Shirley's son's karate trophy is an Upgrade Artifact and attempts to break the table.
- Worst Whatever Ever:
Annie: Worst pizza day ever!
- You Must Be Cold: Jeff to Annie at the "Wigging Out" party. But immediately after giving her his jacket, he rattles off a lengthy list of care instructions to make sure it stays in good condition, and finally decides to take it back from her mere seconds after giving it to her in the first place.
Jeff: You're probably warm now, right?