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“Pop Pop Permissions Revoked”- Community Review Season 4 Episode 7- ‘Economics of Marine Biology’

The Dean and Annie Community

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

-Halloween

-Inspector Spacetime Convention

-The Thanksgiving episode with all the feels

-Tonight’s episode

-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…

chang puns

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.

Grade: B

Stray Notes:

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!

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9 thoughts on ““Pop Pop Permissions Revoked”- Community Review Season 4 Episode 7- ‘Economics of Marine Biology’

  1. Maggie on said:

    I think it was an O.K. episode. It wasn’t Modern Warfare, but it had the charm of those laid back, easy Community episodes which are still far better than anything else in T.V. right now. LOVED the Pierce story line. I’m glad to see a season 1 Pierce, when he played a mentor figure to Jeff, rather than a villain.

    Am I the only one that liked the follow of old episode jokes? The pants pulling, very much in tone with Abed’s list of things to do in college? The P.E. uniforms? (I half expected a joke about it.) It seems like a very Community thing to do. Also: product placement for fake products make me smile.

    On another note, I hadn’t really noticed what it was about Annie this season until you mentioned it, but you’re right. She seems devoid of personality lately. Maybe it was because she had a lot of focus last season, but this season she seems to just be there.

    To answer your question, I won’t answer your question. I hope NBC asks for more episodes. They can always make Jeff (who I’m pretty sure is the one student who’ll graduate this season along with Shirley) a teacher at Greendale. Shirley has to be there for her shop, so I can see it work out. Six seasons and a movie, am I right?

    • We’re all begging for six seasons and a movie.
      Possibly my favorite running bit in this episode was the return of Greendale’s board. I’ve always liked seeing those boys pop up. I’m particularly fond of the one playing the straight man. I always preferred David Spade to Chris Farley. Those guys have been really funny.
      And it’s sad, really, what’s happened to Annie recently. I miss solid Annie (“Fistful of Paintballs,” “Virtual Systems Analysis,” “Debate 109”).
      Good episode. There have been better and there have been worse. Nothing with this much Craig Pelton can really be bad.

  2. Knowing that the episodes aired out of order makes more sense now, because I was definitely yelling at my TV while watching that “we already know Chang is faking! This is a waste of our time!” Thankfully I was the only one in the room.

    While I giggled at the pure silliness of Abed leading a frat, I did question the purpose of the whole thing. It probably wasn’t necessary, but it didn’t really ruin anything by being there either.

    Finally, it was nice to see that the writers (no doubt in a panic) remembered that they need to show that Pierce isn’t just a bad guy, and that he’s only intolerable 98% of the time. The whole interchange with him and Jeff felt much needed after Pierce spent the last episode spewing nothing but racist bile. There was some of that in this episode, too, but they at least tried to show that there might be more to him than just that. Maybe.

  3. Jessica on said:

    Good Review!!!

    Thanks setting it straight that the episodes are aired out of order, dumb NBC–get it together!

    I like Annie —I would like to see them do more with her, Alison is a great actress. Magnitude’s little Arc was interesting because I bet that how the writer’s felt when they coin the term POP POP!! I agree on the drama club and the locker room scene–brought some comedy the Shirley and Troy plot.

    I’m really excited for the Puppet episode and Jim Rash’s Episode!!!

    Note:People need to realize that even if Harmon was still on the show—Season 4 is the season in most TV shows to be considered the “Season of Change” or the up-climb of the show to refresh and keep audience coming back.

    Do you think they’ll have Jeff go to that restaurant to have his steak for graduating from Greendale?
    Is there any word yet about a fifth season?

    ~Jess

    • There isn’t any news yet on the fifth season, but I have some hopes for it. We’ll see. Networks tend to make their decision on this soon. Luckily for us, the writers wrote two versions of the last episode this season: One for if it’s the end, and one for if it’s just another finale. Either way, storied writer Megan Ganz wrote it, so I have high hopes.
      I do hope they have Jeff eat his steak. I’d almost forgotten about that, but it would be perfect.
      I’m incredibly excited for all of the episodes I’ve heard about so far. I still love, love, love, love this show.

      • Jessica on said:

        Thanks for the information, that is great to hear that they have two different version of the season finale. I feel it is important for a TV-show that is close to being cancelled or not renewed, to have a chance to say goodbye to the characters and it’s audience by wrapping-up and finding closure (like Buffy the Vampire Slayer did, unlike what happen to Angel: the spin-off series).

        Steak for Jeff, I hope so too, fingers crossed that they remember to do it!

        I just re-watched all three seasons and I going to re-watched the fourth season episodes–in the order you posted.

        I agree with you, I’m still head over heels in LOVE with this shows.

        ~Jess

      • Good to hear there are still those that don’t think it’s a “disrespect to old Community.” I’m still a superfan.

  4. Pingback: “…And Pierce Didn’t Matter”- Community Season 4 Episode 12 Review- ‘Heroic Origins’ | Chekhov's Gunman

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