“Pop Pop Permissions Revoked”- Community Review Season 4 Episode 7- ‘Economics of Marine Biology’
Chekhov’s Gunman is a film and television blog moderated by Kevin Lanigan, a future writer of movies and TV and current City College scholarship winner.
It was at about the time where Shirley was spooning Troy was spooning Chang that it became very apparent that this season of Community is being aired drastically out of order. After last week’s revelation that, whoa, Chang totally doesn’t have Changnesia, it seems very weird to see him taught how to Frisbee for yucks.
For those curious, here’s the order the episodes were supposed to play in, using layman’s terms instead of fancy episode names…
-Hunger Deans premiere
-Return of the Germans
-Inspector Spacetime Convention
-The Thanksgiving episode with all the feels
-Next week’s planned Britta episode that I’m super excited for
-Changnesia: The Documentary
When laid out like that, you can kind of see a nice little arc the season’s taking, as I’ve hinted to before. If aired in that order, I feel the episodes flow more nicely from one to the next and uses up its storage of Chang jokes before Chang’s big non-revelation revelation. That being said, on to the episode in question.
Tonight’s episode was nice enough, some light chuckles, definitely fun, and certainly no time to get bored during. Nothing to write home about, but I don’t exactly make a habit of telling my parents about the time that Chang played with a water fountain.
Perhaps I went a little light on this episode because of my personal life. My depression kicked back in today and absolutely everything in the English-speaking world made my sad, and this episode brought me legitimate joy, and I thank it for that. Thank you, episode. I will rewatch you on Hulu later.
If there’s an issue here, it’s that I don’t know what two of tonight’s three plots were really building to. Not every episode has to lead up to a climax that fundamentally changes the force of the character or deepens them in some meaningful way, but I do believe that, yes, the majority of plots should deepen the character in some meaningful way.
The plot which most shows this problem is the Troy and Shirley B-plot. The idea of a Physical Education Education class is funny, if simple. You knew what the problem would become when it started, but, like all good Community, takes some unexpected jokes along the way. I’m particularly fond of the drama club’s rendition of a locker room, and any episode where Garrett and Vicki shove Troy in a locker can’t be all bad. It was a charming and I’m always ready for a funny montage song. Just… what did Shirley learn tonight? That she should be nice? That Shirley should be nice?
If anything, the plot felt very reminiscent of the Shirley boat plot from Season 1’s “Beginner Pottery,” that ultimately niceness will serve her better than her only occasional cutthroat attitude. Maybe I’m being too nitpicky. Again, this plot reaped Chang’s water fountain sight gag and Garrett and Vicki shoving Troy in a locker. I think this show needs more of the Drama Club. Something about the idea of Greendale having a drama club (under the tutelage of Professor Professorson no less) intrigues me to no end. But I don’t we’ll ever see the fruit of that overacted tree, as we probably only have six episodes left.
Jesus, we only six episodes left…
The A-plot was fun, giving Jim Rash some nice material. Rash has been vying with Gillian Jacobs and the exemplary Joel McHale this season for MVP, and the Dean shaking his fist in the air at Abed’s fraternity is nothing if not pleasant as punch.
“The Whale” (whose character name I have forgotten, which is very indicative of what I’m about to say) was whatever. Kind of funny, glad he wasn’t played by a celebrity so we could avoid feeling ‘stunt-casted.’ As has been customary this season, Annie was mostly marginalized tonight, shoved into the corner. But she was shoved in the corner by The Dean “sending in the whores” and Magnitude losing his catchphrase, which was tonight’s greatest moment by far. Diggity-doo indeed, Magnitude. Diggity-doo, indeed.
Easily tonight’s best plot was also the shortest one. Pierce finally got his redemption. I feel okay with him as a character, and Chevy Chase did his best work in years. It was short, and it wasn’t exactly funny, but I felt so okay with Pierce again. Like the best episodes this season, it thrives on drama and left the jokes elsewhere. Good for Pierce, and for Joel McHale for continuing to carry the heart of this season with him with a strong, interesting performance.
Taking this review back a bit, this season has felt an awful lot like Season 1. They’re taking wacky classes, genre parodies have really been minimal… I’ve already compared tonight’s showing to that of “Beginner Pottery” back three seasons ago. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. Season 1 of Community was my favorite show on television, even back then. In a strange way, this reversion gives the show a strange, cyclical arc. We’ve journeyed through Season 3, the Darkest Timeline, and come out on the bright and sunny shores of Season 4. It’s not a bad note to fade to black on.
On a side note, I’m sure there are those that are going to malign Community tonight and bemoan its downfall, and while I will concede that the show may not be at its peak, it’s still an absolutely wonderful place to be. I also maintain my statement that if Harmon were still on the reigns, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation, even if the episodes he produced were these episodes. And I have photographic evidence…
That’s a picture from the late Season 3 episode “The First Chang Dynasty,” showing Chang having a folder labeled ‘Miscellaneous Chang Puns.’ This is exactly the kind of joke that, if made in Season 4, would have been malaised by the Internet for just copying the show as it was, but this aired during the show as it was. If Harmon were around, we would have ardently defended the World War II episode if Harmon’s name were on it. Guaranteed. Sure, Annie’s really getting the short straw this season, but she got the short straw last season as well. Watch the Season 3 finale again. She is the only character without a plot, or even a solid joke. Say the season is feeling down all you want, but just think about if you’re saying it because Harmon’s gone.
There’s no new episode next week, but the week after that we get a Britta episode and then after that we have THE PUPPET EPISODE! followed closely by an episode written by Jim Rash.
My personal favorite Magnitude catchphrase is “Not in my backyard!”
Question for the Audience:
How do you see them ending this show? Paintball? Graduation? FINALLY a Parks and Rec crossover?
You can find Kevin on Twitter if you’re hunting for him. Be sure to check back each week for a new Community review and our upcoming Game of Thrones coverage, and also our Mexican Standoffs feature, and our Film and TV columns. Dean you later!