I’m not sure it was the wisest choice to air a full-on genre parody episode so soon after the recent war-documentary spoof, but then again, I was apparently one of the few fans who didn’t like “Pillows and Blankets.” Still, this week’s Community aimed its sights on Law and Order, with a yam murder serving as the central crime to be solved.
I should point out that, while I’ve watched more than a few episodes of Law and Order and its spinoffs (usually late at night in hotel rooms, to be honest), I’m not a major fan, and I am willing to bet a few of the specific references might have been over my head. I did recognize a few of the tropes, such as the hot dog cart, the interviewee keeping busy while being questioned, and the chaotic construction going on in the background. In other words, I’d probably serve as a good baseline to show that this episode could still be funny even to non-fans of Law and Order.
So: when the study group’s biology-project yam gets smashed, the group (well, Annie, mostly) is determined to investigate the perpetrator in order to salvage their grade. Jeff and Annie take charge of the investigation, despite the fact that early on it seems like Shirley is going to take charge. But nope! Shirley just supervises Troy and Abed and only has a few lines for the rest of the episode.
I guess it bothered me a little bit how the roles played out for this episode. When you’re going full fantasy, why not mix things up a bit? I think last week’s Jeff-and-Annie plot also made it a little less fun to watch the two of them take center stage again. Particularly after last week’s climax led us to believe that their dynamic had run its course. And furthermore, is Gillian Jacobs on Dan Harmon’s ever-growing shit-list or something? Why has she had so little screen time lately? This week she had one small scene, the punchline of which was that she likes to use Instagram filters on her digital photos.
Troy and Abed as a good cop/bad cop team was obviously inspired, and while watching them together, I couldn’t help but be happy to get a break from the large arc of conflict in their friendship for this episode. The two of them just work so well together. (Walk it off!)
Starburns and Todd (hey, welcome back, buddy!) are the main suspects, and the convoluted revelations throughout the episode seemed pretty faithful to Law and Order. Making Todd an unimpeachable war hero was a nice touch. (And hey, was his superior the same guy who did the Kouchtown commercials on 30 Rock last week? Does NBC have him on retainer or something?) Still, after Annie’s aggressive questioning leads to Todd’s confession in the courtroom, Jeff reins Annie back in by telling her not to be all cynical like him (seriously: has this exact conversation between the two of them not happened many times before?). Besides, Jeff can tell something’s off about Todd’s confession.
I was glad that Jeff came through in the end, because it would be uncharacteristically sloppy of the show not to call back to the fact that Jeff was a lawyer. True, his degree was fake, but he did successfully practice for several years, so he can’t have been that bad at it.
Also, Starburns is dead? Is that going to end up being a real plot point? I’d actually be disappointed if it were true. I love the way Community has managed to retain almost all of its bit characters, because it helps maintain the coherence of the universe the show has set up. While Leonard has rapidly been gaining my favor, I’ve always loved Starburns and his increasingly desperate insistence that his name is Alex!
Anyway, if he’s actually dead, I hope they don’t go overboard dealing with his death, but I also hope they don’t just use it as a backdrop for, I don’t know, Annie and Jeff to work out their dynamic some more. You know, because he’s cynical and she’s idealistic. Also, they have sexual tension.