Joel McHale and Lisa Rinna on "Community.
A review of last night's "Community" coming up just as soon as I meet Sting at a Cracker Barrel...
"Ridiculous situation descending into heavy-handed drama for the illusion of story... check." -AbedAfter last week's all-out "Goodfellas" parody, "The Art of Discourse" confines most of the meta/pop culture humor to the Abed and Troy subplot, while going more straightforward in showing Jeff and Britta, and also Pierce and Shirley, dealing with being the old men (and women) out on campus.
Jeff and Britta's conflict with the high school kids was played entirely for laughs, as we once again see that those two are more entertaining when they join forces for some ridiculous goal than when we're supposed to care about the simmering sexual tension between them. This was a really strong episode for Gillian Jacobs as Britta let herself get sucked into trying to pwn the three Schmitty kids, whether pathetically trying to defend her life choices (invoking Winona Ryder and wearing a Discman) or going pure evil in that moment when she had the brainstorm to send Jeff to have sex with Lisa Rinna.
The Pierce and Shirley plot, meanwhile, did a nice job of balancing laughs (Pierce being oblivious to his racism, the gang all turning on each other in the search for New Pierce) and some more genuine character moments about Shirley and Pierce's feelings about each other and their respective places in the group. Unlike the scenario Abed described in the quote above, this felt like actual story, and like something the show's been building to for a while. If the series wants us to care about this community and its characters beyond their role as avatars of pop culture gags - and it clearly does - then sooner or later Pierce's treatment of Shirley in particular and the group in general had to be addressed, and in a mostly heartfelt, sincere manner. Some very nice work by Chevy Chase and Yvette Nicole Brown in this one, and ultimately their moment of bonding climaxed with a nice callback to the pantsing joke that started the whole mess - and by the time we got to the food fight and the extended riff on the end of "Animal House," it felt okay to go whole-hog on the parody, and I look forward to seeing Troy and Abed in "College Cut-Ups 2: Panty Raid Academy."
What did everybody else think?