Director: Anthony Russo — Writer: Tim Hobert and Jon Pollack — Aired: 10/1/2009 —Season: One — Number: 3 Summary: Britta interferes with Abed's relationship with his father while Jeff tries to "seize the day".
Seize the day Jeff, for real! Go running naked in a hailstorm, kiss a girl in the middle of the day, fly a kite, but do it for yourself! Or you won’t just fail my class. You’ll fail life!
— Professor Whitman
Jeff attends an accounting class taught by Professor Whitman which is less about learning and more about the philosophy of "seizing the day". Over in the the study room, the group is irritated at Pierce who cannot operate his cell phone. Jeff then arrives excited about the blow off class he just found and suggests the group sign up too. Abed declines, explaining that his dad forbids him taking any class that won't help him run the family falafel business. Britta decides to give Abed the money to pay for a film class he actually wants to take. He suggests that they all get back to studying but is subsequently distracted by Troy's funny sneeze.
The study group-minus Britta and Abed-join Jeff for Professor Whitman's accounting course the following day. After Shirley introduces herself to the class, Whitman encourages her to have an emotional breakthrough regarding her husband. He then commands Annie along with the rest of the students to stand on their desks. After one of the students gets injured when her desk collapses, Whitman gives out their homework assignments and dismisses them. He asks that Jeff stay behind and tells him he believes his motivations for taking the class are insincere. If by the end of the week he doesn't try to genuinely live in the moment and seize the day, Whitman will fail him. Later, Jeff is complaining to Britta about Whitman's ultimatum.
Living in the moment means standing on your desks.
She is uninterested in his problems and more concerned with Abed who approaches the pair while filming them with a video camera. She asks him how his class is going, and he mentions that he is working on a documentary. It is then that Abed's father shows up and confronts Britta. He tells her that he is responsible for Abed and doesn't need her help raising him. The two begin to argue, and when it becomes physical, Jeff steps in to separate them. Jeff tells Mr. Nadir that Abed is an adult now and can make his own decisions. Fed up with the situation, Abed's father responds that Abed is their responsibility now and leaves the campus. The next day in the cafeteria, Britta runs into Jeff who is dressed in a ridiculous outfit and waiting for Whitman to arrive for his morning coffee.
"He was difficult to talk to before. NOW WE HAVE THIS BETWEEN US!"
She has accepted the role of Abed's provider and is trying to calculate his expenses for the semester. Abed arrives with an expensive new camera bought with Britta's money. He continues to film his documentary, casting Jeff and Britta in the roles of his parents. Distracted by Abed's wasteful spending, Jeff fails to notice Whitman's arrival. The professor disapproves of Jeff's outfit before ordering a birthday cake from the Hot & Brown coffee shop . Meanwhile in the student lounge, Pierce offers to teach Troy how to sneeze strongly and with intent. Elsewhere, Jeff decides concocts a more elaborate scheme to impress Whitman.
"Sorry, Mr. Winger. These won't cut it."
He lies in wait for the professor to appear in the campus courtyard and launches his plan. Whitman witnesses the entire charade and gives it a disapproving thumbs down. He tells Jeff to sincerely try to seize the day, or he will not only fail the class but life as well. Overhearing their conversation as she approaches, Britta arrives and gets a flower from Whitman before he leaves. She asks Jeff to talk to Abed about his behavior as she just learned he hasn't been attending the film class she paid for. She pleads with Jeff to talk to Abed since he refuses to talk to her. It is then that they both notice Abed filming them for his documentary.
Verdict: Not amused.
Later in the study room, Abed is treating the group to pizza using Britta's money. Britta again urges Jeff to talk to him about his recent behavior. When Jeff confronts Abed about cutting class, he replies that working on his movie project is much more important. When a delivery man arrives with lattes, paid for by Britta's money, she immediately loses her cool. She starts to get hysterical and demands that Abed explain himself. Abed refuses to give her any answers and instead suggests to her that this is the scene where she leaves. After Britta leaves upset, Abed turns to Jeff for his reaction. He calls Abed weird before leaving as well.
Abed filming Jeff and Britta as his parents.
The following day, Jeff tricks both Britta and Abed's father to come to the study room. Abed is there as well, editing his movie on the computer. Jeff gathered them all for meeting to hopefully resolve the situation. However, Jeff's efforts are futile as things become heated again between Britta and Abed's dad. Abed cuts through all the arguing with an announcement that his project is finished. He gets the other three to sit down and watch his film "Six Candles". Britta and Jeff are unsure what they are watching and are surprised to see the movie upsets Abed's father, who is crying. He tells Abed that he never blamed him for what happened to his marriage.
Abed shows his finished film to his father, Jeff, and Britta.
Abed's father turns to Britta and Jeff and says that if film making is a way for Abed to express himself and be understood, then he will pay for the classes. After he leaves, Britta realizes that Abed planned this all along and tells him it was a poor way to treat his friend but Abed is unapologetic. Meanwhile, Pierce and Troy are walking behind Shirley, and Troy tests his new sneeze, leaving Shirley impressed. Later outside the library, Britta is bothered by the fact that she's now in Jeff's debt. She asks Jeff to kiss her, and he eagerly complies. When the kiss ends, Professor Whitman shouts out his approval of Jeff seizing the day. Britta tells Jeff that they are now even and walks off. Whitman further congratulates Jeff and tells him that the kiss just earned him a passing grade in his class.
Recurring or debuting plot points in this episode:
History lesson: Shirley fills in more details about why she's at Greendale when she reveals she was left by her husband who cheated on her and now wants to get what's hers. Through Abed and Gubi's relationship, Britta's own strained relationship with her father is hinted at.
Googly eyes: Jeff and Britta share their first kiss in this episode although Britta explains it was only for Professor Whitman's benefit and to make things even between them for him helping her out with Abed.
Middle Eastern Magic 8 Ball: Annie is inspired by Professor Whitman's philosophy of living in the moment and makes a few significant decisions in the Season One finale "Pascal's Triangle Revisited" based on the idea.
Express tuition aisle: All Eustice Whitman teaches students is to "seize the day". His class is supposed to be accounting.
Discontinuity: The photo of Abed's mom appears to be that of a middle-eastern woman and it is stated several times on the show that his mother is Polish.
Many references to the movie Dead Poets Society are alluded to in this episode. The last name Whitman itself is a reference to the poet Walt Whitman that the teacher in the film, John Keating, was a fan of.
Parody: A key scene from "Dead Poets Society" is re-enacted when Professor Whitman asks his students to stand on their desks which is what John Keating requested his students do as well in the film. Unfortunately, it had less than desirable results.
Résumé: Jeff wears rainbow suspenders and says in a drawn out manner "Good morning, Professor Whitman!" to prove to Whitman that he's living in the moment. He then says "Shazbot!" when his attempt fails. These are all references to the actor/comedian Robin Williams's past roles as Mork from the 1970's sitcom "Mork and Mindy" and the deejay from Good Morning, Vietnam. Williams also portrayed the teacher John Keating in the film Dead Poets Society.
During the scene in the study room where Abed presents his short film to his father, Jeff and Britta there is an error when a particular Arabic word is used. The word is "اليسار (alyasar)" which is a direct translation of "left" which literally means "the left" - as in the direction not as in someone having just left a room. The closest translation of an Arabic word in this context would be "أعتقد أن الشخص الخاطئ رحل ('aetaqid 'ana alshakhs alkhati' rahal)".
The Bicentennial Man
This episode has a Robin Williams theme with various references to film and television roles he has played. Actor John Michael Higgins portrays the character Professor Eustice Whitman who is inspired by Williams role of "John Keating" from the 1989 film "Dead Poets Society". Higgins would later co-star with the comedian in the 1999 film "The Bicentennial Man". He portrayed the character "Bill Feingold", the lawyer of Williams robot character "Andrew."
The Bicentennial Man.
Dead Poets Society
Many aspects of Professor Whitman's class are direct references to the film Dead Poets Society. This includes his learning to walk and standing on desks exercises, and his motto - Carpe Diem - latin for seize the day! Ironically, while Whitman's class is set in the sub-par educational institute that is Greendale, Dead Poets Society features a prestigious New England boarding school.
Standing on Desks
“Isn't Abed's Dad a hardcore Muslim? They're not as understanding as Christians. You could get your head cut off with a salami sword.”— Shirley
“Shirley! That's the most racist thing I've ever heard!”— Annie
“Pierce will beat that in 1 minute.”— Jeff
“I have to plan, in advance, how to prove that I live in the moment.”— Jeff
“I'm interested in making movies. But my Dad says all media's Western propaganda that negatively stereotypes Arabs.”— Abed Nadir
“Raising him means letting him follow his dreams.”— Britta