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Saturday, 17 of April of 2021

Community – “Biology 101”

Hey, Sean Penn called. He said to dial it back.

Community Title CardBusy, busy, busy.

“Biology 101” is something of a reset button as the show attempts to, in fact dial itself back from the larger, more parody/homage/theme-based episodes. I’m personally okay with this as their more high-concept episodes last season were beginning to distract or were struggling to feel consequential, both at their time of airing or in hindsight. The study group got lost a little bit, as did Greendale as an environment (Did anyone really care about anthropology, or any of their other classes?!).

So I, for one, welcome a return to a more season 1 structure. And I’m glad they went ahead and got that musical number out of the way. 

“Biology 101” is actually something of a refresher on the pilot, as Jeff, in an effort to keep Pierce out of the group, who has apparently gotten back into his cult and did some self-evaluation. In a speech that mirrors his one creating the group as a community, Jeff argues that they are no longer a community, but a group of friends that transcends their study group, who can be “See you when I see you” sort of folks. It’s how he attempts to exclude Pierce from Biology, and from the group as a whole.

I’ll admit to being a bit frustrated that this Pierce issue was resolved so quickly, or that the rest of the group was eager to take him back, but it does lead to some nice, albeit well-worn at this point, beats about Jeff’s relationship to the group and in particular his connection with Pierce. He realized last season that he needed them, an (re)affirmation of that anyway, in “Early 21st Century Romanticism.” (Notice, too, how both of the realizations center around cell phones, in that episode as a communication device and now here as a perceived barrier?)

But here it leads to a trippy 2001: A Space Odyssey homage (courtesy of monkey gas, because, okay) that works really well both for Jeff’s development and as an homage. The study table as the monolith was a nice touch, and the little subtle touches of Jeff eating his phone and then becoming Pierce in the bed just really sold it for me. It was pop culture riff that worked, that served the character, and those are, as you know, the kind I like best.

The rest of the episode works on varying stages. I adore that the show addresses Cougar Town‘s midseason status, and has Abed react appropriately to it. It was rewarding in that, as someone who doesn’t watch the show (though I really should, I think), my first response to Cougar Town‘s place in the schedule was what this would mean for Abed (and it was many other people’s reaction after “NOOOOOO!”).

So, of course, it’s Britta to the rescue. Her attempts to keep Abed happy before Cougar Town‘s premiere are wonderful, including the best parody idea ever: Cougarton Abbey, the faux-British series that was the inspiration for the American series. Yes. It’s a mash-up of Downton Abbey (which is so good, guys) and Cougar Town, and it’s the most hilarious combination. Even better was Britta’s complete lack of understand that 6-episodes is not kosher for Abed’s American-expectations of TV (“Six seasons and a movie!”) as she smugly says, “That’s the great thing about British TV: They give you closure.” (Obviously Britta’s never watched EastEnders.)

And it leads to Britta declaring, of course, a psychology major. To become a therapist. Oh, I cannot wait for this to play out.

But perhaps most representative of the idea to put Greendale, and the college as a whole (Does this mean they’re going to be outside on campus again, by the way? Because I miss them being outside.) is Dean Pelton’s rivalry with Vice Dean Laybourne of the Air Conditioning Repair Annex who has decided to cut off all the money to Greendale, leaving the college broke.

Certainly there’s a nice reality-based turn in this as many colleges are strapped for cash, and I wonder if that recent trend was the inspiration for this story (probably not), but I’ll welcome some discussion of colleges struggling for money just the same (perhaps they need more monkey gas). John Goodman is wonderfully menacing, as I suspected we all knew he would be (seen enough Cohen brothers movies to know how that works). Hopefully this story line will help them flesh out the Dean beyond being a “pan-sexual imp”, because I’d like that.

So I’m eager for the story lines this season, and to get into a groove of Community once again.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • “I don’t want to screw up this year.” “Uh, Britta.” Loved it.
  • “All hail Sir-Eats-Alone!”
  • “You are human tennis elbow. You are the pizza burn on the roof of the world’s mouth. You are the opposite of Batman.”
  • “You look like a white Lou Gossett, Jr.”
  • Inspector Spacetime was a little less inspired feeling than Cougarton Abbey.
  • “Sorry, Starface.”
  • “So this year, we all die.”
  • No thoughts yet on Michael K. Williams as Dr. Kane. The energy is a bit off, I think. He may be too serious as a character to work, but I trust the actor and the writers to figure something out.
  • Oh, Chang’s a security guard now. Much better than being a student. Should be more fun, and it’ll keep him in touch with the Dean, which is really where he belongs anyway.
  • Number of times Shirley mentions her newborn baby: Zero. Going to keep this counter going.

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