Friday, April 30, 2010

Community, "The Art of Discourse": See if you can guess what I am now

A review of last night's "Community" coming up just as soon as I meet Sting at a Cracker Barrel...
"Ridiculous situation descending into heavy-handed drama for the illusion of story... check." -Abed
After last week's all-out "Goodfellas" parody, "The Art of Discourse" confines most of the meta/pop culture humor to the Abed and Troy subplot, while going more straightforward in showing Jeff and Britta, and also Pierce and Shirley, dealing with being the old men (and women) out on campus.

Jeff and Britta's conflict with the high school kids was played entirely for laughs, as we once again see that those two are more entertaining when they join forces for some ridiculous goal than when we're supposed to care about the simmering sexual tension between them. This was a really strong episode for Gillian Jacobs as Britta let herself get sucked into trying to pwn the three Schmitty kids, whether pathetically trying to defend her life choices (invoking Winona Ryder and wearing a Discman) or going pure evil in that moment when she had the brainstorm to send Jeff to have sex with Lisa Rinna.

The Pierce and Shirley plot, meanwhile, did a nice job of balancing laughs (Pierce being oblivious to his racism, the gang all turning on each other in the search for New Pierce) and some more genuine character moments about Shirley and Pierce's feelings about each other and their respective places in the group. Unlike the scenario Abed described in the quote above, this felt like actual story, and like something the show's been building to for a while. If the series wants us to care about this community and its characters beyond their role as avatars of pop culture gags - and it clearly does - then sooner or later Pierce's treatment of Shirley in particular and the group in general had to be addressed, and in a mostly heartfelt, sincere manner. Some very nice work by Chevy Chase and Yvette Nicole Brown in this one, and ultimately their moment of bonding climaxed with a nice callback to the pantsing joke that started the whole mess - and by the time we got to the food fight and the extended riff on the end of "Animal House," it felt okay to go whole-hog on the parody, and I look forward to seeing Troy and Abed in "College Cut-Ups 2: Panty Raid Academy."

What did everybody else think?

52 comments:

Drew said...

I'm not sure if I've laughed harder and been more mortified at a situation than I was when Pierce went up to the wrong woman to apologize. That was an absolutely brilliant scene played to perfection.

I thought that the episode was fantastic, one of my favorites of the season. I've grown to absolutely just love this world and these people, and I like that the stories at this point seem to stem from the characters rather than the other way around. For example, the above mentioned scene wouldn't be nearly as funny without knowing Pierce. But because the character is so well established, funny situations are taken a step higher.

I also loved the visual of the goat setting at the table. Sometimes, you don't even really need words. It was just amazingly funny to see.

Kensington said...

The Schmitty plot was almost too much, insofar as I hated those kids so much that their pantsing was an inadequate comeuppance considering how irritating they'd been.

But the Pierce/Shirley plot was outstanding. When Pierce admitted that he went to the wrong women because he's old and has bad eyes, the pathos of that almost knocked me over. I wasn't expecting that kind of sincerity, and it was beautifully done.

I'm really going to miss this show when the season ends.

Admiral Ackbar, S.J. said...

Easily one of the best episodes of the season.

Only disappointment was from the lack of Annie. Everybody had something going on Jeff & Britta, Troy & Abed, Pierce & Shirley. And she was left nodding her head about possibly being the best looking girl on campus.

Matt Wilstein said...

My favorite part of this episode was the epic food fight at the end. You can watch that clip here:
http://bit.ly/aqZfby

Marsha said...

During the food fight, my closed captioning had the lyrics to the theme from Animal House, not the song that was actually playing on screen. Wonder if they couldn't get the rights?

Loved this episode, especially the Pierce/Shirley stuff.

Alan Sepinwall said...

And she was left nodding her head about possibly being the best looking girl on campus.

I thought the idea there was that, since neither Annie nor Britta had made out with Abed, they were puzzled over who was the actual best-looking girl on campus.

Chrissy said...

Gosh, this was good. Britta's realization that Jeff had to sleep with Schmitty's mom was such a great moment, especially keeping in mind her failures in the past at being able to come up with a suitable prank. "Winona Ryder knits" also had me in tears.

Loved the interplay between Annie and Britta as they tried to decide who Abed was talking about (and what it said about them if they a) weren't the one he was talking about and b) were the one the other thought he was talking about). So much funny going on in just a few glances.

Everyone trying not to become the new Pierce was also a really great place to take that joke. I love all of the focus on who they are in the group. My pop-culture infused mind is so used to stereotyping fictional characters - it's almost a relief when they do it for me.

This show is quickly becoming one of the highlights of my whole week. Which either says something really great about the show, or something really sad about my week.

(Oh, Alan, I think you meant Britta instead of Annie in the first paragraph after the jump.)

George said...

I was kind of disappointed with the whole "DUH!" finale as the Jeff/Britta storyline promised so much more, I though Jeff would just bang Mark's mum in a less extreme pastiche of "Scott Tenorman Must Die", but instead we got that WTF?! ending, which was fine but disappointing.

I'm not gonna discuss yesterdays 30 Rock in this post, and Alan you should write about 'Argus' for its awesomeness, but this episode didn't quite top that for strangest NBC comedy of the night, it was mighty close though

I'm glad they addressed the Shirley/Piece conflict even if it just goes back to normal next week.

As much as I love Troy and Abed their storyline didn't do much for me apart from the ending.

I really love what they are doing with Britta; she's like this tragically unhip hipster now, ridiculed out of her holier-than-thou attitude, and her excitement when she came up with her Jeff bangs the mum idea was classic and infectious.

Great episode, best comedy on TV.

Bryan said...

this show just gets stronger and stronger. This ep just nailed it from beginning to end.

I've got a 17 year old and those kids just nailed the annoyance factor (farcically of course) that teenagers can have and the frustration an adult can have in dealing with them.

so much was hillarious I can't pick out just one but I did love the "escape goat" sitting in Pierce's spot.

Admiral Ackbar, S.J. said...

"I thought the idea there was that, since neither Annie nor Britta had made out with Abed, they were puzzled over who was the actual best-looking girl on campus. "

I think you're right on that Alan. Call me selfish, but I just wanted more Annie in the episode.

Reagan said...

Loved the episode. But I loved the promo for next week's episode even more. Just a brilliant combination of elements from various action movies. If anyone can find it online, I'd love to see it again.

The one thing about this episode that stood out was how there is no way to verbally defeat the 'duh' attack from the high schoolers. I loved how the 'duh' counter-attack resulted in a 12-minute statemate.

Jimmy Tango said...

The dynamic duo of Troy and Abed consistently drives most of the laughs for me. Troy had some faces that killed last night, and even the subtle stuff like "Pretend like you're sleeping, pretend like you're sleeping" just slays me.

The reactions of Britta and Jeff when she had her brilliant idea for revenge was also killer.

This show is awesome.

Andrew Gordon said...

I found myself fast-forwarding through nearly every scene with the high school kids in it. I enjoyed the Pierce/Shirley and Abed/Troy stuff going on in this episode, but those high school kids just annoyed me so much that it put a damper on my enjoyment of the rest of the ep.

Schmoker said...

As uneven as the teenager plot was, the moment when it dawned on Britta, then Jeff, to have Jeff bang the kid's mom was hysterically worth all the rest. And the Pierce/Shirley scene in the library was as unexpectedly touching as the moment when Pierce sat next to the wrong black woman to apologize to Shirley was funny. And the final Animal House stuff was perfectly executed, with the episode building and building the pop-culture jokes until they joyfully exploded into the food fight. It's been a looooong time since I saw Animal House, but those closing tags for each character actually had me spitting up laughing.

Alan Sepinwall said...

(Oh, Alan, I think you meant Britta instead of Annie in the first paragraph after the jump.)

I did, indeed. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

The annoying teenagers plot had some great highs and a few lows, but it is a story that I thought this show should do.

Our group is always shown as the cool kids on campus. How realistic is that? Looking at the age of most of the group members, I think it is very likely that more students would react to them as a pack of losers.

There is more potential comedy in these scenarios too.

Katie84 said...

Yeah, I'm going to have to agree with Andrew. A funny episode, but the high schoolers' annoying bit was so convincingly annoying that it made those scenes really difficult to watch.

Also, is Schmitty an actual insult that I've never heard before?

stephen said...

Good job to the writers who were able to make those high school students so hatable, but because of that I would have also liked to see them have a bigger fall from grace than they did. Overall though not as funny as last weeks, mostly because I really enjoy the goodfellas/godfather movies, but still delivered some great laughs.

Anonymous said...

I normally love "Community," but this episode was terrible. Yeah, right; "high achieving high schoolers"? That behavior was SO unrealistic it took me right out of the show. I feel sorry for those actors - I know if I were a casting director I wouldn't hire them after seeing that. Unwatchable.
barbra

semicolwin said...

I had to rewind and replay the scene when Shirley is told by Pierce that apologizing was the group's idea so many times. I just could not get enough of Troy's "Act like you're asleep" and Annie's attempt to look inconspicuous. Great episode.

Hannah Lee said...

So who played the woman Pierce mistook for Shirley? She looked really familiar.

This episode had its moments, but next week looks awesome!

Chrissy said...

Oh, I forgot to mention my favorite moment of this episode, because it made me feel young whereas most things make me feel old - Abed smashing the guitar. My thoughts went immediate to Freaks and Geeks, and my boyfriend had to remind me that that is from Animal House.

(It's possible I relate to Britta more than I'd like to admit.)

Bryan said...

That behavior was SO unrealistic it took me right out of the show.

But there's hardly anything about this show that's "realistic"

DrBobert said...

This episode confirms feelings I've had throughout the season: Abed and Troy could do anything and I would watch it, safe in the knowledge it will be hilarious.

LA said...

Ever since Jeff took his clothes off in the Billiards episode, Community has been on fire. I left this one on the DVR to watch again. So funny.

Anonymous said...

what was the song during the food fight?

Joe Cobb said...

When the show first started, I thought it was a decent premise... but I thought it would all be about the transition of Jeff from obnoxious lawyer to loveable leader. Yeah that lasted two episodes.

It truly has become a community without a weak link in the bunch. I'm just thrilled with Chevy finding such a niche for him... and I'm amazed at the talents of every single castmember (including those reappearing contributors such as Starburns).

Clearly this and Modern Family are the best ensemble casts on TV right now.

word verification "ouststst" ~ The shakespearean act of throwing a character out of a room then pausing for dramatic effect... twice.

SaneN85 said...

Maybe it's because of the ridiculously good mood I was in last night, but I couldn't have laughed harder at the climax of the High Schooler s/l. I'm not sure why everyone seems to have disliked that part so much.

blinky said...

Now this is a funny show! (As opposed to P&R.)
Community is by far the best written and acted comedy on television.
Clever, clever, clever!
Every week they top themselves. The Abed character is genius. I even like Chevy Chase.

bratcat said...

Although it had its moments, this episode was noticeably weaker than recent episodes, but the previews for next week look great, so I'll let it slide.

The best part for me was the Shirley/Pierce storyline. I've been critical of both characters in the past but seeing Shirley do something besides clutch her purse and coo made me interested in her for the first time, and peeling back a layer of crust on Pierce to get a glimpse of the softer side of Chevy Chase's characters of days gone by was much needed and well done.

Now for the dissapointments-

- Annie- way too little of Annie. booooo.

- Troy/Abhed- loved the meta look at Goodfellas last week, this week's Animal House send up was too contrived and not that funny.

- Jeff/Britta v Kids- The set up had potential for an epic battle that could be an ongoing subplot but they just went for the cheap mimic fight. And no way does Jeff not think of hitting on Lisa Rena before Britta does, thats who is, and he did it so cheeseball too. Jeff and Britta are sadists, they would have taken their time to make the payoff an epic pwnage. Oh well, can't wait till next week.

georgekaplan said...

"You're the new Cliff Clavin, the new George Costanza, the new Turtle, the new Johnny Drama, the new E - man, that show is sloppy."

Zack Smith said...

I live near my old high school. Let me tell you -- high school kids ARE that annoying. I work out of the home, so if I take a walk or run an errand around the time school lets out -- they will just shout the most random, annoying things at you.

This was a pwning most deserved. I think it might have been TOO realistic for some people to get, though. (>:

Evil!Britta has finally made me love Gillian Jacobs. The character works much better when she's as insane as everyone else, as opposed to straight woman/conscience.

Chevy Chase has been really good at underplaying pierce. That mistaken identity scene was indeed well-done.

On a throwaway note: Shirley mentions that Annie is still dating Vaughan. I might be obsessed with Annie-points, but darn it, I love Alison Brie as much as I hate Eric Shaeffer.

Next Week: BEST THING EVER.

Anonymous said...

yeah those kids were so hate-able they had to be destroyed... of course, did anyone pickup on the final irony, in the what-happened-to tag, with the lead Schmitty essentially becoming Jeff?

but of course

Francis said...

I hope that they leave some time later on in the season for the high school kids to try and take on Anthony Michael Hall or Starburns (or Leonard). I smile at the imaginary groin-kicks that will ensue.

MrsB said...

For those who don't get "Schmitty":

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=schmitty

Abhimanyu said...

I haven't been able to really believe it for the longest time given my long time admiration for The Office but Community is the best sitcom on TV right now.

Zach said...

Another excellent episode. All of the Animal House references were very well done, and I liked Abed's college bucket list, even though the Morgan Freeman joke fell a little flat.

I'm curious how they treat this show in the coming years. A normal college would be four years and out, and I can't imagine they have all of their characters in college for 4 years. Understandably they can do whatever they want and have them take classes for as many years as they like, but I would like to see what happens down the road, if some of them become teachers at the school or we just lose some of the characters entirely.

Ryan said...

Didn't like the high school kids stuff either, thought it was pretty irritating and unfunny. But the Pierce/Shirley plot was stellar throughout the episode, thoroughly enjoyable. I think it is very interesting to see how Jeff and Britta have evolved over this show's first season.

dickey simpkins said...

Considering how many people seem to have disliked the high school kids, I'll go ahead and commend the writers for accurately capturing just how stupid and annoying teenagers are.

strong like bull smart like tractor said...

Clearly the best-looking girl on campus must be the woman from the billiards class, right?

Anonymous said...

I would say it's the girl dating White Abed.

Anonymous said...

do you see a chinese kid?

LOL

Senor Chang having the body of 12 year old has to be my fav running gag.

David Willis said...

"A normal college would be four years and out..."

By definition, a community college gives associate's degrees, which take 2 years to complete with a full class load. You can then transfer your credits to a four year school to apply them toward a bachelor's. I wonder if our merry band will have to move to arch-rival City College for season 3?

This very point is what made me surprised that they decided that a season would take up a full school year. Still, who knows how realistically they'll end up treating this issue, as they already treat Greendale Community as much more like a 4 year school with people living and hanging out on campus rather than the commuter schools that most junior colleges are.

Anonymous said...

I think that is the lamest Urban Dictionary page ever, and that's really saying something.

Amanda said...

"since neither Annie nor Britta had made out with Abed, they were puzzled over who was the actual best-looking girl on campus."

They could just ask the Dean, who maintains a numbered list.

erin said...

I thought it was kind of a randomly pieced together episode, but I still laughed (I've only seen Animal house once, so some of those jokes didn't quite work for me, but I love Troy and Abed so much, it was still golden). However, Jeff/Britta vs. the Schmittys made me HOWL with laughter. I have been the victim of annoying idiots at one time or another in my youth, and the mimicry/DUH! comeback is pretty much impossible to beat. And so annoying. God, I hated those three kids. So to see Jeff and Britta have to stoop to their level...for 12 minutes!!--was just glorious. Man, teens can be annoying.

I rarely buy tv shows because i don't rewatch tv that often, but this first season might be worth a purchase. just fantastic. Can't wait for next week!

Anonymous said...

Last fall I loved Community and recommended it to any friends that I knew liked tv comedy. But lately it is evolving into a sketch comedy show and is close to not even being a sitcom anymore.

Too many parodies, too many ensemble scenes, too many characters doing whacky things as if they have all the free time in the world and an endless supply of costumes and props.

I have hope it can get back on track but haven't liked the last few episodes so much.

Colbert said...

Oh, absolutely LOVED the nods and motions Annie and Britta made to each other after Abed talked about kissing the hottest girl on campus, and Pierce saying his nicknames for the two. I love how the show is really good at placing in these little moments.

Anonymous said...

I loved the teenagers and I thought the writers missed a trick with the "bang the Mom" thing. Am I the only one who thought Jeff would bang the Mom, confront the kid only to have the kid tell Jeff "Mom" was originally his "Dad" a mtf transsexual, had some kind of STI, or was in some other way threatening to Jeff's social status?

Result: kid is undefeated and cooler than Jeff. Jeff's a schmitty because he's phased by something the kid is cool with.

It's a law of nature: the young will always supplant the old in coolness usually by embracing something more marginal than the previous generation. I thought the kids should have gotten the victory and Jeff and Britta should have been humbled.

GOREDBIRDS4 said...

who is the kid on the left eating the ice cream cone?

I have seen him a million times before and I cant get his name or what he was in.

Can anyone help me out?

Allie said...

I'm later than usual, even but I just got to see last week's "Community" at the last night of Alan's old blog...

I need to see this episode again just to savor all the humor. Loved Jeff pretending the annoying teenagers didn't bother him but he did the same thing to Pierce. The Pierce/Shirley feud and then the show of unique frinedship was just outstanding. Anything with Troy and Abed. The Escape Goat. Britta getting to be funny and the cool one, for a moment. And the homage to the end of 'Animal House'..always a classic.


For the record, if the asker looks in - I think the song at the end was "Hands Up " by Lloyd Banks. I loved it so much I looked up the lyrics.

I could praise the show forever, about one hilarious comic gem after another but most of it was said and said well.

"Community" and "Modern Family" make this a new golden age of comedy, to name two of the best. "Family" seems more classic, this one is so constant and over the top, it's like seeing "Animal House" while stoned sometimes.

Yep, I'm betting Pierce would get that as an old hippie guy.

Geoff said...

They got everything right about the high school kids on a community college campus except the part where they mouth off too much and a twenty-something just goes and beats the living hell out of them.

A not too infrequent occurrence at the place I took cheap summer classes at.

So the finale should have just had them run into A.M. Hall and his crew and ending up laid out with the trash.

Man, Texas schools were violent...