TV in Review: Community, “Contemporary Impressionists”
March 23, 2012 2 Comments
Last week, the NBC sitcom Community returned to the airwaves. A nation cheered. Well, a nation cheered with the exception of Salon columnist Willa Paskin, who felt that Community had gone too far in toning itself down for its mid-season return. While I’m all for firming and toning, I felt that “Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts” was a thoroughly satisfying experience, even if it wasn’t one of the more fantastical Community romps. And I’ve been very much looking forward to this week’s “Contemporary Impressionists.” So what’s my impression?
Well, there are definite signs that Community has been put into mothballs for a few months. After all, Annie’s hello to start the episode consists of…
ANNIE: Happy New Year, you guys. Do anything fun over break?
After we all politely ignore the fact that it’s actually already time for Spring Break, they start with some witty opening banter, as usual, sitting around the study group table and setting up story lines. One of them involves psychology…
BRITTA: For our midterm, we actually get to diagnose a fellow student with something.
ANNIE: Don’t you do way too much of that already?
BRITTA: Accusational Opposition Disorder.
…but whose psychology to study? Why, look over there, it’s Jeff Winger, and his ego is expanding…
JEFF: It appears you all noticed that my swagger has a new swagger.
BRITTA: Jeff, you can’t be on anti-anxiety meds. What little self-doubt you have is the only thing keeping your ego penned in. You are a textbook narcissist.
JEFF: I am an exceptional narcissist, Britta.
The main plot involves Abed, who gets himself embroiled with a celebrity impersonation service, including a French Stewart lookalike who looks a lot like French Stewart. The Community characters themselves debate how far to go in fulfilling their forays into fantasy worlds.
ANNIE: We could actually hurt Abed if every time he faces reality we dress up and play make-believe to bail him out.
TROY: Shame on you people. It’s not our job to help Abed grow up. Abed doesn’t need reality.
I’m actually okay with Community not going fully over the top in each episode. To my mind, the paintball extravaganzas are more fun if they don’t happen every week, and I’m satisfied with episodes so long as they’re imaginative.
This week’s episode is in-between the two extremes, as “Contemporary Impressionists” doesn’t exactly stay tethered to the ground, but it also doesn’t take any gigantic imaginative leaps. I found the first half significantly stronger than the second half, which seems to peter out early. Except for the Jeff plotline. Just how does Jeff deal with his ever-expanding ego? Let’s just say that you won’t like him when he’s angry.
Finally, did some of you miss Ken Jeong? Don’t worry, Chang is back.
Okay, I don’t know who told you pouting is an option for you, but all you’re making me feel right now is hatred of Renée Zellwegger.
I give this episode one Burt Reynolds and a single Geena Davis on my Retro Celebrities Ratings Scale.
Season 3, Episode 12 of Community first aired on NBC on March 22nd, 2012.
Polentical: Community, “Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts” (Season 3, Episode 11).
Adam Corner!: Community ‘Contemporary Impressionists’ Review: “Slightly Funny!”
TV Surveillance: Review: Community, “Contemporary Impressionists”