20
Nov
2009
Community: Season 1, Episode 10
Environmental Science
Jordan
There is no questioning it. Community has left that gray area in which a television show, when first starting out, stumbles and makes the occasionally mistake. This show has figured out what its about, where its going, and how the characters will need to behave to get them there. "Environmental Science" is an episode structured like many others"”in which Jeff starts the episode behaving selfishly and slowly moves towards selflessness and altruism by episode's end. This could be annoying or predictable at this point, but man does Community still know how to make it work. In other news, Senor Chang got his first real episode tonight, deepening him as the other characters have slowly come into focus over the last ten weeks.

Senor Change assigns the entire class a paper (which is first one, then two, then six, then twenty pages) that no one will be able to do. The gang thinks Jeff should talk him out of it. Jeff, as unwilling as ever to lift a finger or help anyone else, successfully convinces the gang he's unconvincing, which unfortunately for him just convinces them that he is in fact convincing. Jeff then goes reluctantly to talk to Senor Chang, where he uses his lawyer powers to discern that Chang's wife left him (from a repeated shirt, him teaching them the word for liar, and the speech bubble over his wife's mouth that says "enjoy it while it lasts") and then agrees to hang out with the professor, only to decline because he has the essay. The tactic works, for Jeff, and his essay gets cancelled. Jeff begins to use his friendship with Senor Cheng to his own advantage, until the group finds out. They're reactions, done one after another in ensemble, are a priceless example of how well this show is working: "You devious clump of overpriced fabric and hair product!" "Speaking as one of the meek, as soon as I inherit the earth, you a dead man!" "You have a weird forehead!" "We are all very disappointed in you." " Alright, dial it back a little Britta." In quick succession, each character muttered a hilarious line that totally fits with their character, and quickly advances the plot. The show has become leaner in the last few weeks, whittling its story down to the essentials: laughs and emotions.

In the B-plot, Troy and Abed have to train a rat to respond to music. Abed has picked the song "Somewhere Out There" from An American Tail and, likewise, named their rat Fievel. Troy, meanwhile is afraid of rats (or, as he quips, "I'm not afraid Abed. I choose not to be next to rats because they're unpopular. Same goes for centipedes and lakes!"). Troy must face his fears, however ,after his terrified reaction to a rat near him leads to Fievel's escape.

The C-plot revolves around Shirley's presentation for her marketing class, which terrifies her so much, she agrees to let Pierce help her. Pierce may not be good at almost anything, but he is a good public speaker, and he teaches Shirley not to lock her knees (or she'll die), to give hand motions, and to wake up the audience with buzz words.

It was not just that all three story lines managed to mine sitcom cliché and find as yet undiscovered gold the was impressive about this episode. There were some excellent meta moments (like when Pierce, in sitcom cliché mode, sat in Jeff's chair and tried to assume his role. Abed pointed out the joke, and no one was taken in, but as soon as Abed left, they all immediately started treating Pierce like Jeff, just as they would on a sitcom), funny moments from every character in the cast (even Star burns got a cameo), and, a very funny running plot about Greendale's efforts to celebrate "Green Week" by changing its already workable name into "Envirodale" and hiring (apparently Celtic folk group) Green Daye to perform at the concert. Community has come a long way these first ten weeks, but it has arrived at a place where it is quickly becoming one of my favorite shows each week.


Grade: A


Notes:

-"Well guess what, handsome hobo. You're gravy train is leaving the station." "Ignore what she's doing, we are serious!"

-"This better not awaken anything in me."

-I like the weird interaction when Abed bursts into Chang's office, and Jeff thinks hes found out. "Is there a rat in here?" "I don't know what you're talking about." "Abed." "Le tigre."

-"I believe that fusing brownies with the internet is going to create the next Napster for brownies."

-Britta, not Annie, is looking at Jeff during the amazing (and surprisingly funny) "Somewhere Out There" montage from the end, during the line "love will see us through." Damn it, Community, how you toy with my emotions! Plus, Jeff and Britta dance together at the end.

-Another great meta gag when the gang showed up to explain away the resolution of their storylines all at once and then just dance.

-Great blip. "Pierce, I hope that's the tiny gun that you throw at us to confuse us while you grab the real gun that's strapped to your back!" Pierce then shoots them with pepper water in the eyes.
Tags: Community
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