Community: Season 1, Episode 9
Debate 109
A few weeks back, I wrote on the idea of Jeff and Annie as long term foils for one another"”he a cynical smooth talker, she a bumbling optimist. Tonight plays on that relationship and takes it to some exciting, and hilarious new areas. It seems Annie is on the debate team, and the Greendale Human Beings really need a win (the closest thing they can get to a compliment is that their basketball team is really gay). So the Dean and Professor Whitman (John Michael Higgins, an excellent re-appearance in Community's growing lexicon of recurring characters) join with her to convince Jeff, a former lawyer to join the team and hand them a win.

Jeff thinks it will be a piece of cake and agrees in exchange for a better parking spot, but is soon faced with a wheel-chair ridden nemesis hell bent on his destruction. The debate, whether humanity is inherently good or evil, is really one of the major questions of this show, but its so hidden behind inspired lunacy that it simply exists as a perfect running subtext throughout the episode. The fact that an episode this funny can also address a major (if a bit standard) philosophical issue and give it weight as well as laughter says volumes about the show. Community is a comedy that has something to say about the nature of humanity and how we interact, and at this stage, that is as intriguing and exciting as the show's quite capable comedy. Of course Jeff is a proponent of the evils of humanity, but that Annie quickly jumps on board and is even key to that side's victory is telling, and more than a little awesome. When their opponent throws himself out of his wheelchair to prove that Jeff, who hates him, will catch him (and thus, that humanity is inherently good), Annie kisses Jeff, forcing him to drop a handicapped man in his fit of lust.

The sexual tension that appeared between Annie and Jeff tonight was surprising, but more than that it was surprisingly hot. I've always thought the Jeff-Britta chemistry was pretty decent (and had a great moment tonight when she told him, "I will slap that smug look off your pointy face!" and then affectionately referred to him as pointy face), but there is something very intriguing to me about the idea of a Jeff-Annie pairing. It may be wishful thinking to hope that this plotline will come back in future weeks, but I loved the awkwardness with which they avoided their obvious attraction, especially when Annie dejectedly instructed him to, "just pat my head" as they parted ways at the episode's end.

The show dealt with Abed's tendency for the meta in a very clever (and very meta) way tonight as his student films proved oddly prescient in their ability to predict character interactions. Heretofore Abed has commented on the conventions occurring within each episode, tonight the show allowed him to actually predict events and dialogue, which lead to Shirley being afraid of him, and to his fear, at episode's end, that she might be devoured by a werewolf. This was a great gag on the fact that sitcom characters are largely pretty predictable, and it was pulled off handily throughout. More impressive than the stark originality of their meta gag (which I don't think I've ever seen before, and I am a student of the meta) was that it actually worked within the story as well, as Abed learned much about just how keen his observational abilities are. For added points, faux-Shirley being chased by that werewolf was just hysterical.

Finally, Britta was attempting to quit smoking tonight, and after yelling at Pierce, agreed to let him hypnotize her into quitting. Of course he did this ineptly, but it was humorous to watch Chevy Chase expertly pratfall through the music room (twice) in his attempts. And, as a bonus, his faux-suggestion that she and a friend with low self esteem engage in a three way with him actually caused her to effectively stop smoking.

I have said before that this series has an incredibly strong ensemble, and this held true tonight. But more excitingly, the show is quickly developing a large cast of recurring heavyweights to balance out the excellent cast. From Britta's ex Vaughan to Star Burns, to John Oliver's psych professor, John Michael Higgins stat professor, Ken Jeong's Spanish teacher, and the Dean himself, the show already has a huge number of people that can be thrown into whatever situations it comes up with in any given week. I sort of hope Jeff's wheelchair bound nemesis joins this group in the coming weeks. Community has mixed with the dynamics of its show, introduced some fun new characters, and handed down an all around excellent half hour of television.

Grade: A


-I love that the mascot is the Human Beings, and that we got a call back to the creepy gray suit Pierce and the Dean designed a few weeks back.

-"This is wrinkling my brain." "This is wrinkling my brain." "THAT'S wrinkling my brain!"

-I loved the chaos when Annie, the Dean, and Professor tried to cut Jeff off, and then attempted to spin around in order to follow him. Just an inspired bit of physical comedy.

-"Why am I crying? Will I accidentally listen to "Come Sail Away" by Styx again?"

-Nice recurring joke that Pierce thinks Britta is a lesbian.

-"You tell me my future right now you evil wizard!"

-"By Zeus! What sort of jackassery is this? We're in the middle of a championship debate!"

-I liked the blip at the end with Abed and Troy's look alike's re-creating an earlier blip. A nice call back handled deftly.
Tags: Community
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