'Community' recap: What was that?

community_dlThere are off nights, and then there is last night’s episode of Community. After being spoiled by two consecutive weeks of dynamite comedy, I sat there wondering whether I was watching the same show. Yesterday’s episode was the equivalent of a bologna sandwich that had been left outside in the scorching sun for two-and-a-half weeks and then still deemed suitable to consume. Even Homer Simpson would have turned it down. I have no doubt that Community will rebound from this, and that last night’s show, “Home Economics,” will be remembered as merely a peculiar gaffe in an otherwise consistently engaging series. But what a gaffe it was!

Practically nothing worked here. I never believed that Jeff would suddenly devolve into a living-in-his-car slob — he’s way too self-conscious for that, not to mention too clever to not figure out an alternative solution. Also, I was dismayed by the return of Vaughn (Eric Christian Olsen), a character who wore out his welcome the first time we met him four weeks ago. Speaking of which, NBC seems to have been airing some episodes out of order. There have been minor continuity issues before (particularly in regard to Jeff and Britta’s friendship status), but it was especially strange to reintroduce Vaughn an entire month after his breakup with Britta, and to make us believe that Britta would still be interested in that tiny-nippled hippie.

Other problems: Annie’s devotion to Troy — to the point of helping him prepare for a date with another girl — never resulted in any laughs. The story line really veered off course when Annie faked having appendicitis to keep Troy by her side. I was momentarily cheered up by the appearance of Patton Oswalt as a school nurse, but even he couldn’t save the awkward scene in which Annie pretended to scream in pain and Troy repeatedly tried to dart for the door. And then there were Vaughn’s reggae songs about Britta and Pierce, the former song a bore and the latter an embarrassing descent into third-grade humor: “Stupid and ugly, he smell like a fart / The poo-poo in his pants, and poo-poo in my heart.” At least we could rely on Abed and Troy’s weekly credits gag, right? Nope, the two buddies were nowhere to be found. Instead, we were left with yet another song featuring lyrics about digested waste.

Despite all that, “Home Economics” had a sprinkling of memorable jokes, so let’s end on a positive note by accentuating five moments that did work:

1. The sight of Pierce rocking a keyboard during band practice was a splendid reminder of Chevy Chase’s comedic gifts. Pierce made all sorts of amusingly contorted faces while banging on the keys, but he saved the best for last: As Pierce launched into an extremely high note, he tilted his head back and (silently) screamed into the sky. For one brief second, Pierce was on top of the world, and you couldn’t help but feel glad for the guy.

2. Britta was encouraging Jeff to forget about his condo. “You need to move on with your life,” she said. Jeff’s response: “Yeah, move on with my life. Shmoo shmon shmiff mife mife!” It was pure gibberish, but it caught me off guard and resulted in a rare chuckle.

3. Abed: “Sometimes I like to pour hot cocoa mix into cold milk and drink it like a cold hot chocolate. I call it Special Drink.”

Jeff: “And someday, you will know it by its true name: diabetes.”

4. Abed informed Jeff that television was a sort of father figure during his childhood, and Jeff agreed with that assessment: “TV is the best dad there is. TV never came home drunk. TV never forgot me at the zoo. TV never abused and insulted me, unless you count Cop Rock.”

5. Britta was impressed by Jeff’s new dorm lifestyle. “You guys are really dorming it up in here,” she observed. “Yeah. In the last two days, I’ve spent a quarter,” Jeff replied. Ah, to be back in college, when you could get by on a diet consisting of Pop-Tarts, Ramen noodles, and video games.

So, PopWatchers, what were your impressions of last night’s episode? Are you guys hoping that Annie and Troy will eventually get together? Or would that be a bad idea?


Comments (74 total) Add your comment
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  • Jason

    Yeah, I’ve become something of an apologist for this show with my friends because I really do love it but last night’s episode was a clunker even to me.

  • Maserda

    It wasn’t as good as last week’s episode, but I thought the brevity of Jeff’s “dorm’s life” was a little amusing.

  • Tiffany

    I am starting to think that Abed is the only sane one out of that whole bunch.

    The way that he played on both Jeff and Britta’s ego’s was fantastic.

  • Penny

    I enjoyed this episode, I didn’t see it as an abysmal failure. They attend a community college, right? Hence the name? What community college has dormitories?

    • Megan

      There’s a community college in Council Bluffs, IA that just added dorms to their campus.

      • Penny

        Really? I was curious. Our community colleges are so stripped to the bone.

      • cjscott

        And they even have their own radio station which is very popular in the Omaha/CB area!

    • brooke

      We have dorms at my community college but its in Canada so not sure what its like in the US. I liked the episode

    • Amanda

      Haha, my boyfriend has a running theory that in TV world, the depiction of college is always a glorified version: gorgeous campuses, everything amped up, and that Community is more like an actual, real-world college. Everything gets bumped up a notch!

    • beelkay

      I believe there’s one in Syracuse or something, too. I don’t think they’re common, but they do exist.

  • Rodney

    I don’t know what the hell your talking about. last nights episode was one of the best they’ve done so far. Also, try to remember that in comedy, not everything makes sense. Sometimes you can just enjoy it for the humor and stop overanalyzing everything. Lighten up already.

  • sjb

    i thought that all 4 of my NBC shows were a little “off” last night…or maybe they just seemed that way after a few weeks of really great ones. that said, i thought community was pretty good tonight. i WAS a bit irritated with the annie and troy storyline (coming out to the concert in her hospital gown to almost profess her love??). and am i the only one who views brita as the weakest link BY FAR in this show? seriously, either she needs to do him already or he needs to stop trying…i like them as just friends. i wish he would have hooked up with that teacher from last week. :)

  • Jill

    Gosh, it wasn’t THAT bad.

    Seeing Joel McHale shirtless makes up for anything that wasn’t funny.

    • Hayley

      Seriously? I went to a concert and missed this?!

    • Sara

      He seems to pull his shirt partly off fairly often on The Soup. No objections…

      • jess

        nice abs…. didn’t expect that, even with all the times I’ve seen him partly shirtless on The Soup.
        I kept thinking he must have hit the gym hard for the first part of the episode, and then forgotten that (as well as pants and shaving) by the end.

    • Shasta

      THANK YOU for noticing. Good god, that alone made it the best episode to date. I didn’t even pay attention to the rest of the episode after that.

  • girlonthepark

    I actually really liked it. Considering it is the first season of the show and they are still working things out, I think it’s going pretty well. I mean, as much as I like Parks and Rec now, I didn’t find it’s first season half as funny as this.

  • Jay

    John Young, you’re a GDB. This episode was hilarious.

    • dawnomite

      ha ha ha!!!

      • Benes

        Right on!!

  • Alan

    Serious overreaction in this column. I thought that last night’s ep was mostly amusing, and occasionally hysterical. Chevy Chase was in top form, and I completely bought Jeff falling into his narcissistic version of lethargy. Sorry, Popwatch, I think you’re way off on this one.

  • Isembard

    Yeah, it was definitely off, but then the entire NBC comedy block was subpar. Still, I love this gang, love that the writers like dot mix up the relationships, and love the rare moments of sweetness (Jeff’s hug of Abed). It wasn’t great, but no show is perfect (though overall Community is certainly very, very close).

  • Sara

    Are you trying to Garfunkel me? Maybe. Assuming that to Garfunkel someone is to put up with them even though they’re a fat lazy cat who hogs the spotlight and eats all the lasagna.

    • Aprilcot26

      Haha yes! That one cracked me up too.

    • Steven

      I didn’t catch that the first time through. That’s hilarious.

  • becky

    We loved seeing Abed’s movie posters – Short Circuit 2? Does this really exist??

    • Erin

      Absolutely! I own it! :)

    • Ken

      Yes, but it isn’t as good as Mannequin 2 or Weekend at Bernie’s 2.

  • apd09

    Chevy Chase playing the keyboard reminded me of him playing the piano in Caddyshack, somethings never go out of style, and yet something like Dane Cook I wish would.

  • kim in kentucky

    loved the Cop Rock reference (and I did watch it) – however, doubt that Abed would have appreciated the line (too young)

    • meg25

      He didn’t appreciate the line, he said something like, “Sounds cool.”

    • Shasta

      Someone who’s as immersed in pop culture as Abed would’ve heard of Cop Rock. It’s on every “terrible tv shows ever” list. And if he’s “too young” for Cop Rock, supposedly he’d be “too young” for Sixteen Candles.

      • craig

        or Overboard, or Breakfest Club, or Short Circuit 2..etc

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