TV in Review: Community, “Curriculum Unavailable”
May 14, 2012 Leave a comment
Last week on Community, we discovered that the study group is still meeting despite being kicked out of Greendale Community College. What’s the plot device devised to keep them together? One word: potluck.
TROY: It’s bagel bites in a deconstructed hot pocket reduction with a Doritos glaze.
Abed has to go to a psychiatrist in order to avoid trespassing charges. The doctor turns out to be none other than John Hodgman, playing Dr. Heidi.
Hodgman is an excellent casting choice. He brings his own brand of irony to the table while still fitting in to the comic sensibilities of the show.
DR. HEIDI: I have to say, I didn’t expect to see so many of you.
DR. HEIDI: I don’t deal in crazy, I deal in help. So how long has Abed required a crazy amount of help?
You know how some people were worried that Community’s mid-season return was initially a little too traditional sitcomy? Well, not this time. “Curriculum Unavailable” is full of insider jokes in a show that already trades heavily on those.
ANNIE: Troy and Abed and Annie in the morning…
I guess stuff like that is still funny even if you don’t know about Troy and Abed’s regular morning show, but the episode is concerned about their group identity in a manner even more meta than usual.
DR. HEIDI: And so as a group do you always indulge Abed in these little misadventures?
Well, yeah, but is it right to send Abed to “crazy people jail” because his support group isn’t the healthiest? Couldn’t Abed even get meta about the meta, and alert the doctor to the fact that they’re starring in a sitcom, and are therefore required to be idiosyncratic? While he’s at it, he could ask Dr. Heidi why John Hodgman doesn’t appear on The Daily Show more often.
As the group attempts to explain Greendale to the bad doctor, the show has an excuse to present a montage of all the craziest cut-aways they’ve been saving on the side.
PROFESSOR ROBINSON: My name is pwofessor Wobinswin! Who’s weady to wearn?
BRITTA: Dean! This is not the way to agree on parking for the job fair. It’s inhumane.
DEAN PELTON: You have a better idea, Britta?
BRITTA: Yes, thousands of them.
DEAN PELTON: Vicky to Queen Three.
I liked it — lots of fun! — but it also had the feel of a very special Cosby Show retrospective. Remember that time that Theo paid Denise to make him a shirt? But the retrospective ends as they arrive in that most most meta of places.
DR. HEIDI: You can’t go back to Greendale. Because it doesn’t exist!
Is it possible that the study group is actually joined together by their shared psychosis?
DR. HEIDI: Ah yes. This fantastical community college, where everything that happens is unbelievably ridiculous and it all revolves around you as a group.
But no, they realize that Dean Pelton loves them and therefore must have been kidnapped and replaced.
BRITTA: He’s out there somewhere alone and cold and most likely trying to cobble together a sexy Patty Hearst costume.
It’s a clever plot move. Take all the weird stuff that comes from being a sitcom and then use that to suggest to the characters that they’re insane. That makes the viewer invested in the group rejecting the new insanity and getting back to their old insanity.
I’m looking forward to this week’s part two, “The First Chang Dynasty” but feeling a bit overwhelmed because it looks like they’re airing three new episodes on Thursday.
NBC first aired Season 3, Episode 19 of Community on May 10, 2012.
Polentical: TV in Review: Community, “Course Listing Unavailable” (Season 3, Episode 18)