Sunday, June 12, 2011

"Community" Catch-Up - "The Psychology of Letting Go"/"Basic Rocket Science"

Spoilers for episodes three and four of "Community's" second season after the jump:

"The Psychology of Letting Go" - Part of the reason I loved this episode so much is that I'm a huge fan of Professor Ian Duncan. John Oliver is so funny in this role, and he knows it. Well, we got more of him than in pretty much any episode since the pilot. And it was funny beyond belief: particularly his torment of poor Chang as well as his matter-of-fact admission that he knows nothing about anthropology.

But that's far from the only great thing here. Both the main plots worked very nicely. The show has so far been avoiding any kind of tension between Annie and Britta regarding Jeff, but here it exploded (although this was due to a number of other factors as well) in a hilarious oil-drenched fight. I enjoyed their subsequent bonding over the fact that "men are gross" even more.

One of the best things about this show is that it really doesn't forget things. This week there were casually dropped references to last year's excellent Christmas episode as well as the more important reminder of Pierce's religious beliefs. The way all this related to Jeff's own anxieties was outstanding, and I loved seeing Jeff turn around so as to let Pierce keep his illusions about his mother. Rather brilliant stuff, and the result is one of my favorite "Community" episodes so far.

Grade: A

"Basic Rocket Science" - This, on the other hand, was the weakest episode of "Community" since early season 1. It's clearly an attempt to recreate the genius of "Modern Warfare", and I'm not really sure why it didn't totally work (particularly considering the fact that it had some very funny moments).

The episode played out as a satire of inspirational movies, particularly "Apollo 13". I could spot the repeated references to it despite actually never seeing it, and for the most part they succeeded (such as the extremely enjoyable concluding scenes of the characters hugging and shaking hands after "completing the mission"). Indeed, as simple parody the episode was fine.

But the character-based moments just weren't there. The tension involving who the tattletale was felt forced, and the study group's subsequent bickering in the simulator wasn't as funny or engaging as it could (or should) have. Pierce flying into a claustrophobia-induced rage was hilarious, but even that wasn't all that inspired or original (two things we know this show can be when it's on its game, which is most of the time). I'm trusting that this is just an minor setback in what will hopefully be a great season.

Grade: B-

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