Last Night on Community: 'I Don't Like Where That's Going'
Uh-oh. Having been a major cheerleader for the first season of Community -- and having done a Derek Jeter-like fist pump when NBC wisely renewed the under-watched comedy for a second season -- my hopes were high for the season premiere. Maybe that was a mistake.
This isn't going to be one of those "this show is doomed, it's the sophomore slump, they're trying too hard!" rants. But. Let me put it this way: After reading hyperbolic review after hyperbolic review about how wonderful the season premiere of Community was, I actually had to check the cable guide to make sure I was watching the same episode as the chattering class of critics. What happened here?
Let's start with the good: "Anthropology 101," was -- for the most part -- pretty funny. There was a typical amount of Community branded meta comedy, referencing everything from the show being back on the air to Donald Glover's failed efforts at becoming Spider-man to even being meta. As Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) said to Abed (Danny Pudi) while he was attempting to come up with a wacky, sitcom-y way to enliven season two, "I don't understand, is this you being meta?" Yes, Shirley. It is.
Also hilarious: @oldwhitemansays, the Twitter feed that Troy (Glover) created to highlight the inappropriate things that Pierce (Chevy Chase) says on a daily basis. (Pierce on why Jewish men wear yarmulkes: "Half a hat; saves money.") That this runner paid off with a lame joke about $#*! My Dad Says can be forgiven.
What were your problems, Hater McHaterson? you scream at your computer. Fine, here you go. I realize creator Dan Harmon doesn't want to make Community into a will-they-won't-they merry-go-round between Jeff (Joel McHale), Annie (Alison Brie) and Britta (Gillian) -- to paraphrase Abed, he wants Community to get away from the soapy relationship stuff -- but "Anthropology 101" did too fine a job of sabotaging the sexual tension.
Figure this: Jeff and Britta aren't going to be together, not after their uncomfortable and alien-like make out sessions. (Or did they French? I'll have to consult National Review.) Also figure that Jeff and Annie aren't going to be together, not after the sex offender jokes, Twilight references and right hooks. (Also, Britta saying that Jeff "stuck his tongue in a teenager" was inspired.) So what are we left with? Why should we care about these characters?
Abed is only half-right: Community might the funniest when it's about self-contained antics and pop culture references, but if it doesn't have a smidgen of heart, it becomes a live-action version of a Seth MacFarlane show. Spoiler alert: That version of the show sucks.
Speaking of sucks, if Community is really going to subject us to more Ken Jeong this season, get out the barf bag now. Egad. His one-joke shtick is about as expired as the Gollum reference he was part of at the end of the episode. Watch it below, cringe and hope for better next week.