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Community - Advance Safety Features - Review: "Characters done right"

25 Apr 2015

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Let’s start with my favorite quote from the episode:
"Are you...? I don't know how to... I have a rule about being constructive so I can't ask any questions right now, because all of the questions that I have right now are rhetorical and end with the word 'idiot'. Do you know what rhetorical...? Of course you don't, you are an idiot.
I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! You are so stupid and you have no idea, you are the only one who has no idea, because guess why? Don't answer that, you'll get it wrong. Also don't, you are just dumb little man who tries to destroy this school every minute. I am sorry! I'm so sorry!
Oh it's ok! I mean, it's not ok, shh. Oh stupid, so stupid... such a dummy
." - Frankie Dart.

That quote is pretty much what I love of Community, the blend of comedy with a heartfelt sentiment of compassion and camaraderie; this is a show about flawed, broken, characters who make something better of themselves by coming together, and Frankie has been a great addition as she brings some of the best sides of the rest of the characters while being fully accepted for her own quirks, and she is quickly becoming my favorite part of this season.

Last week I was pretty bummed because I felt the show was moving past character development and storylines for something that was merely just funny moments, and that based in how the show tripped on the final minutes of another wise standout episode of the season. But now those concerns have been calmed - though not put to bed entirely -, since the show brought along an episode that’s more about relationships than it is about crazy storylines with no transcendence on the future.

I was really glad to see Britta’s old flame “Subway” back, who is now working with Honda, making subliminal advertising to get people buying cars. It is the perfect way to get on rolling with obvious product placement while delivering classic Community storylines, such as getting the Dean obsessed over Honda cars and have Britta testing her convictions while trying to make her relationship with Subway work.

The subplot, revolving around the group trying to get Elroy to like him, is a classic Community set up, just like the reveal that Elroy doesn’t like Jeff and as expected he obsesses over it.
Just like Frankie, Elroy fits right in with the plotlines and dynamics of the group, and I like that we get lots of moments with him, especially near the end of the episode, but I’ll get to that.

One of the great things to have Subway back is that the writers have committed to keep him as he was before, a man whose sole existence is defined by the product he is trying to sell; there’s something real about him, but he loves what he does, and that puts him in line for very funny developments while convincing Britta to work with him and date him while they are it.

Though Britta hasn’t been a major player this season, I like that her character has been keeping her integrity; she is still pretty much the same, but the show has lowered a bit her voice about protests and anti-government speeches without falling in the trap of making Britta an air head character again. She seems to be more down to earth, but she isn’t losing her comedic potential, and the show allow her to develop her own funny moments.

It’s a bit tricky to pull that off six seasons in; the show allowed for an adjustment in her character that keeps her both likeable and funny. I like that Britta is set in keeping her integrity overall, as the much easier choice would have been to keep selling cars with Subway. The show has adjusted the use of her character properly - just like they did with Chang, which is very important.

What I love about the episode is that it’s all about relationships. Jeff’s determination to get Elroy to like him drives him to actually get to know the guy better; by booking Natalie is Freezing for the dance Elroy snaps at him for trying to get him to like him, but there is something underneath and it is that he used to date the vocal singer (Julie). Cue to Elroy and Britta sharing a moment in the bar, showing some vulnerability while also bonding with Britta.

Elroy confronts Julie and decides to stop letting her mess him up, which allows for Jeff and Elroy to come back to good graces. It’s a short little moment mostly up there for the jokes and the laughs, but my takeaway is how it pushes these relationships forward.

The most important aspect of the show for me is that all the members of the show like each other and become better through each other; that’s what Community is about, that’s what makes me smile while watching episodes.
This episode wasn’t the best or most funny episode of Community, but I feel it snapped everything back to focus as the characters are the biggest part of the episode, more so than any plot story.

Frankie steals this week’s funniest moment with the quote I wrote above; it’s just amazing how she landed such a great funny speech that underlines real care for the Dean.
The best Community is a show which knows how to blend the character’s love and care for each other with comedic timing and this episode largely manages to do that.

Grade: B+

Stray Observations:

-Have you seen the Abed and Dean Honda commercial? It’s pretty great.

-Annie was the most underused player during this episode, but she always come back with great stuff after being sidelined.

-Chang’s powerpoint presentation was great! The writers are doing great working with him on the sidelines.

-Abed’s comment on Troy’s departure was a little moment of sadness.

-Frankie: “What is so special about this Troy person? Did he own a rainbow? Was he the group’s pharmacist?

-I love how Jeff just dropped the steel drums bit and Frankie ended up playing them by the end of the episode; it was a great payoff.

-Priceless: having the Dean saying "Dean, Dean!" while honking.

-Also glad to have back Britta’s parents; I like that she is slowly rebuilding her relationship with them, step by step.

-Chang: “Since I’m up here, does anyone want anything reached?”

-Britta and Elroy’s chat about castles, trying to get the word “catapult” was another pretty funny moment.

-As it is Elroy essentially saying “I love you” to everyone. And on that very scene, he got to call Julie a hipster, a line that he landed with grace.

-Honorable mention for greatest minor appearance: Subway’s boss, who always try to sneak away and disappear from a scene while failing miserably.

-I’d like to play that ears game, it seems like fun!

About the Author - Pablo
I'm currently studying Psychology while also writing fantasy books (one already published in my home country, Chile, you can check it out on the facebook icon). I watch many different types of shows, including my favorites Revenge, Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time and about 23 more. Currently writing reviews for Once Upon a Time, The 100 and Community
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  1. I liked this one. I liked all past three honestly. Did a catch up of the three yesterday and was very pleased. I still miss Shirley and Troy but Frankie is indeed a great addition. And that quote you put over there is indeed awesome, it was one of the highlights of these episodes for me.

  2. The absecene of Shirley and Troy is still looming over the show, but Frankie and Elroy are doing a great job carrying their torches without becoming copies of them.
    The quote was comedy gold, as simple as that

  3. Loved it, probably the best episode of the season so far.

    Elroy fits into this group so well and Frankie really makes me question where she was all my life (or the shows life) because she's perfect for it. And holy hell...Billy Zane was just off the hook and looked so different than usual, his constant attempt to mysteriously dissapear was absolutely hilarious and reminded me a bit of John Goodmans Vice Dean.

    I honestly didn't notice Annie being absent for most of the episode, she did have a few low-Annie-sodes in the past but whenever she did have one she still stole the show by some hilarious line in the end (like the s5 episode she and Shirley went to some fastfood joint and came back like nothing happened)

    As for missing older characters...I miss the geek-duo of Abed/Troy more than anything because unlike these hacky characters on Big Bang Theory all the meta references they make (Kickpuncher = Robocop; Abed being pissed about the Kickpuncher re-design = fans being pissed about the Robocop redesign) actually fit and aren't simple "Oh, I love Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, oh look I'm playing Halo 3,I'm such a neeeerrrddd" lines.
    Also...I miss Pierce, the man was the butt of the joke in so many instances and I dearly miss it. Say about Chevy as a person what you will but he is a terrific comedian. Shirley oh Shirley, we got to see her at least once this season.

    In regards to last weeks conversation about romantic stuff on Community: I'm glad they barely/never adress it.

  4. They should totally make a "Butcher & the Baker" webseries happen :P

  5. That was a brilliant quote from Frankie. I love her interaction with Dean Pelton. I love Frankie. She's so hilarious. I'm so glad this show picked Paget to join the cast. Her happily playing the steel drums at the end was awesome, too-I like how they set that up with Jeff's comment about the steel drums coming back sometime later in the episode. Made me be on the lookout for when, or even if, it did happen.
    I also agree on Chang, they've been doing some great things with him this season. Him constantly cracking eggs and realizing he screwed up his trick was hilarious.
    It was very fun to see Subway again! I love how they handled the Honda thing (of course the Dean would go crazy buying up all things Honda. Of course :D), and I agree it fit well with both Subway's character AND made for good conflict with Britta. I'm glad she stuck to her guns, too-I've always liked and related to her idealistic streak. She means well, she can sometimes just go a little...overboard. But I am glad that she's learning to find more restrained, calmer ways to make her point and stand by what she believes in. And I too would totally play that ears game!
    And I liked the whole thing of Jeff trying to make Elroy like him, too. It fit well with his series-long character development of growing attached to this group of people and actually caring about what they think of him. It's a nice reminder that while he may be a teacher now, these people and their opinions still mean a lot to him.
    I also liked that the band actually showed up (hi, Lisa Loeb!)-reminded me of Sophie B. Hawkins appearing for that school dance in season 4 :D. The running joke about them being confused over everyone's assumption that someone in the band must be named Natalie was cute, too-considering that did seem to be the mindset of many a '90s band when they named themselves, that was a clever little joke.
    And finally, yeah, I miss Troy, too. I'm glad the show still makes reference to him from time to time, though, and Frankie's questions about Troy were great :p.
    I'm so glad you liked this episode! It was nice to be more character-focused this time around, and it's good to know six seasons in the show can still stay true to these characters and their personalities overall, all while showing how they've grown over the years. Nice review. Here's hoping next week is just as enjoyable for you.

  6. This season's had a lot of great little jokes about TV show ideas that I'd totally watch if they were real :D.

  7. I miss Pierce, too. I always liked his character, and I particularly loved his interactions with Jeff. He was a great antagonist for the group and a great reminder to Jeff of what not to turn into (and yet, they still had some heartfelt moments together, too-the end of the episode where Pierce is in the hospital, for instance).
    It's very interesting to see how Abed's been adjusting without Troy around, and it's good to know he seems to be doing okay overall. But yeah, they show reruns on TV sometimes and I see all those great Troy/Abed moments and it does make me sad. Those two made such a great team. I hope someday we can see Troy again.

  8. For me this was one of the better episodes of the season. Totally funny through and through, with one of the best scenes: Frankie's speech to the Dean about how stupid he is. So great, and the Dean's whimpering and crying was great. This episode is exactly how you do product placement right, just like they did with the Subway episode in Season 3 (where we first saw Subway/Rick).

    I figured Honda was a sponsor based on the Dean/Abed commercial (which I thought was absolutely hysterical!), but I didn't expect it to be in the show too. They did it so damn well! Don't have much else that you didn't say in what you wrote.

  9. Great to see you liked it too :)
    Totally agree about how they did product placement right, they just had a lot of fun with it and they managed to bring a character back through it, so it's impossible to do it better IMO

  10. To me, this season hasn't been very funny so far, but it has been entertaining. I'll take it.

  11. Is it just me. Or did anyone else notice that there might be some product placement in this episode?

  12. Can anyone identify the model of the Honda motorbike in this picture?

  13. I think Community hoplessly fell apart after Troy left. Shirley's just a bonus.
    It's too mutilated now. Doesn't have the atmosphere or the fun of earlier seasons. Oh well. One can always watch the first three seasons.
    I think the first season was the best it was more balanced with more normality and Senor Chang was way more funny than ventillation duct hobo nutjob Chang. Also ther was the slutty professor who was fun.


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