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Wednesday, 26 of February of 2020

Community – “Curriculum Unavailable”

We’re all kind of crazy-town banana-pants.

Community Title CardWhen this season was just starting, and a number of folks were kvetching about the show’s seemingly single-minded focus on interrogating what it means for the study group to be a group. I was hoping the show would embrace this more, needling and working through the notion that, on sitcoms, the cast rarely interacts with anyone else, and the dysfunctional darkness that it implies.

“Curriculum Unavailable” circles back to this a little bit, and I dug that aspect of the show. But kind of like “Virtual Systems Analysis” I feel like the episode is a little lumpy, taking a bit too long to embrace the darkness that’s been lurking in Community┬ásince Jeff and Shirley seriously thought about making sure Chang went to prison.

I say the episode is a little lumpy only because of its pseudo-clipshow approach. Yes, the clip-show approach builds nicely in show the craziness of Greendale and how Dean Pelton loves the study group, and builds to the “revelation” that the group was actually in an asylum (with Leonard!) and that Pelton and Garrett were doctors there (“I want to see what would happen if I confiscated one of their pens.”), and it works in how it’s employed here.

But I knew Greendale was crazy. And I knew the Dean loves the study group. I didn’t need this episode to tell me all these things to achieve that end. I would’ve preferred the episode jumping sooner, and spending more time on, the asylum insanity, and the show embracing this idea of a group psychosis and how it relates to the sitcom.

This is a structural quibble, really. The episode, as it is, is good. While I may not like the pseudo-clipshow approach from a narrative perspective, there are plenty of good one-off jokes in the mix. Troy rolling in on an ATV, Shirley giving away her kids’ toys, Britta’s peyote hair, and the delightfully spot-on film noir/gangster paintball clip (“It just feels forced.”) were the particularly funny for me.

On the upside, the episode does circle around to theme that I felt like had gotten a little lost in the episodes recently (and perhaps this was due to the break more than anything), but it’s that this group needs Greendale. While it was hinted at last week, to an extent, this week drove it home a bit harder. It’s where these dysfunctional people can survive and work out their issues ans find a group of people that accept each other (the group’s solidarity with Abed is touching).

Next week, the last three episodes all air together, so we’ll see how that goes from a reviewing standpoint. I imagine I’m just going to be tired.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • “I need to eat natural, organic foods, or this hangover will never go away.” I. Love. Britta.
  • “He’s been creepy-weird, like present-day Robin Williams.”
  • “How long does peyote last?”
  • “Do you always indulge Abed in these little misadventures?” “You take that back! Our adventures are very manly.” WORDPLAY.
  • “…and most likely trying to cobble together a Patty Hearst costume.” I do love a good Patty Hearst joke…which makes me feel kind of horrible.

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