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Tuesday, 25 of February of 2020

Community – “Basic Lupine Urology”

“Objection. She’s clearly ramping up to something.”

Community Title CardI routinely do nothing but complain about how Commmunity, when it does these concept episodes, doesn’t ground itself in larger character beats and moments. It annoys me to no end.

But like a witness at the end of an episode on Law & Order, I’m going to go ahead and break on the stand right here and now: That really wasn’t an issue for me in “Basic Lupine Urology” (Get it? Tell me you get it. I’m not going to explain it to you).

This is, of course, because I’m heavily invested in the subject of the episode’s homage. As a result, I can see how “Basic Lupine Urology” could fail for people who aren’t steeped in Law & Order‘s inner-workings (GUYS, LESLIE HENDRIX!). I’ve had this happen to me before with other shows, and I know a number of people probably experienced a similar feeling of exclusionary-ness with Community‘s “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” last season.

But, for me, this episode is was a big, gooey love letter to a show that I continue to enjoy in syndication, so you’ll have to pardon me while I gush about it. Because I’m going to gush.

When I say I think that this is one of the funniest Community‘s I will probably always couch it in that above disclaimer. But I love how the episode captures the cinematography and editing of L&O, that show’s pacing, it’s clever use of the college environment to gently needle the procedural (the interrogation room was great), and the intertitle cards denoting people instead of locations. The writing snapped along like both an episode of Community, I never felt anyone particularly lost their individual voice as a character, but still fit snugly within the Law & Order patter.

But then there’s the costuming, which may have been my favorite bit of the episode, and the one that still allowed the Community characters to speak. Troy’s Spider-Man tie, Abed’s Inspector Spacetime longcoat with scarf both still told us it was Troy and Abed playing detective, while Jeff’s wearing a pea coat is a gentle nod to McCoy’s coat (McCoy, I think would never be caught dead in a pea coat, while Jeff would never wear McCoy’s coat). Smaller things, like Britta with glasses (Britta with glasses!) as the crime lab tech or Shirley’s pants suits channeling Van Buren, all added up to that sense I mentioned with the writing and pacing: This wasn’t so much Community cobbling together a parody of L&O cliches (thought it did that as well, though mostly during the courtroom sequence) as it was Community staging an original episode of L&O through its own lens, and that’s what I found so engaging about the episode.

But it is incredibly funny, I think, in its own right. I do think the jokes all land nicely (though Annie’s victory dance was a real break in the episode for me, and was probably the weakest bit, along with the Magnitude interview), and are just broad enough that if you’ve seen any police and legal procedural, it’s still funny (“We can’t both do the zinger.”), and that the Law & Order stuff isn’t completely necessary to get the jokes, I think, with the only overt acknowledgements being the scene transitions and the use of the L&O clang (which provides one of the show’s best Britta gags).

But I’m really curious, more than anything, about how this episode worked for folks who aren’t as Law & Order crazy as I am. The episode made me absurdly giddy for 22 minutes and like Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design, I’ll probably watch it over and over again, but were your reactions?

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • This is by far and away the best use of Professor Kane since he appeared on the show.
  • “I’m never going to find another dental hygienist like that.”
  • “I can make the entire image old west color.”
  • Allow me to stress how happy the Leslie Hendrix cameo made me. Hendrix, if you don’t watch L&O, is the medical examiner for the franchise, Elizabeth Rodgers. She’s appeared on the mothership, SVU, Trial by Jury, and Criminal Intent, and here she basically plays Rodgers as a botanist. It’s great. It was, for me, perhaps the most wonderful nod to the franchise. Now if only J.K. Simmons had shown up as Britta’s psychology professor.
  • “Clean up on aisle busted.”
  • I wasn’t sure how that last scene would play out. Half of me was expecting Kane to have been fired for being a lesbian, but instead it was a nod to the sudden death of one of Law & Order‘s other characters. But is Starburns really dead?
  • Jim Rash has a lovely singing voice.
  • Fine. I’ll explain it: “Basic Lupine Urology.” Dick Wolf created Law & Order. Get it now?

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