Community: Season 1, Episode 13
Investigative Journalism
After roaring out of the gate in the opening half of its debut season, Community returned tonight to do what it does best: mock sitcom tropes its playing with and deliver more laughs than just about any other show currently on TV. Tonight's episode was about the time lapse syndrome that occurs on most shows between seasons (or after the winter hiatus), but it was more about the way that sitcoms generally use guest stars. Jack Black (as Buddy, a classmate yearning to join the group) is a definite get for this show, but they downplayed the importance of his role by shoehorning him in through a classic retcon and his desperation to join the group.

Over the break Pierce discovered ironic tshirts (including one which just makes the group think he's now a grandfather) and Jeff faux-reverted to the cynical jackass he was 12 episodes ago. I give the show major credit for its commentary on how sitcoms often have characters revert to older modes once they've made progress as a way of stalling the show, and while the episode in a lot of ways was doing just that, it earned my good will (as it often does) by knowing exactly what it was doing.

Another great recurring bit throughout the episode was Abed's M*A*S*H references and how they too accomplished the feat of mocking sitcom tropes while simultaneously indulging in them. Community has found a way to have its cake and eat it too by allowing self-referentiality to give them the appearance of superiority over even the cliches they do end up using, and Abed's character basically exists to facillitate this idea. The subplot in which Jeff becomes the editor of Greendale's paper was sort of a non-starter, but it managed to support the episode's theme and play into Jeff's realization that he may be the Hawk-eye, but that means being a leader too.

That Buddy's storyline ended with Owen Wilson appearing as the leader of the "cool group" was also hysterical and meta, but honestly the best part of the joke for me was that Star Burns (maybe my favorite recurring character) is in the cool group himself. Writing off Buddy by introducing a sort of doppelganger group was a nice touch in a deftly handled episode. Community has quickly become a reliable laugh generator that manages to cram in heart and cliche all while somehow staying above the "Standard sitcom" fray. And that is quite the accomplishment for a freshman sitcom.

Grade: B+

-"I know you're worried about having a new person throw off your groups normal..." Cut to theme song "Rythms..."

-"They've got me editing the crossword because I'm a girl, and I love crosswords!"

-"I hope you have an army of raisins because I've got a major scoop!"

-"Annie's pretty young. We try not to sexualize her." I really hope this doesn't mean my dreams of an Annie-Jeff pairing are dashed...

-"His ratio of girth to hip flexibility is mesmerizing."

-"Gary is off the table. He's a buzzkill." "He grew up in a land without sun!"

-"My best friend when I was six years old was a black man!"

-"Britta, relax. I didn't pick you as a decoy because your breasts are so old."
Tags: Community
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