‘Community’ TV Review: Jim Rash Can’t Save ‘Basic Human Anatomy’
Jim Rash may have won an Academy Award for screenwriting (The Decendants), but last night’s episode of Community, “Basic Human Anatomy,” which he also wrote, still sucked. The phrase ,“Am I crazy?” popped into my head more than once as I found myself unable to enjoy a Community episode written by an award-winner. But then I realized it was just another parody episode in a long list of themed episode that have ruined the latest season for me. In the latest show, Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi) switch bodies (or do they?) in a reenactment of the movie, Freaky Friday. Like Jeff (Joel Mchale) in season three’s “Regional Holiday Music,” I was constantly asking myself, “Is this a bit?” Five minutes into the body switch, I almost turned off the television. Although Troy and Abed played each other convincingly, I just wanted their characters to be normal again. I wanted “Troy and Abed in the Morning” because “Abed and Troy in the Morning” was weird and, more importantly, not funny.
If you can get past the absurd overarching Freaky Friday bit, Jim Rash actually manages to portray the study group characters as well as anyone could with the addition of all the inconsistencies in their personalities in season four. He deftly makes Annie (Alison Brie) the butt of the joke from Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) as Annie exhibits googly eyes for the Dean through his Jeff Winger impression in the episode, which also serves (perhaps unintended) to point out how stupid it is that Annie is still infatuated with her debate make-out partner despite her growth in season three. Rash knows the characters so well that with the Dean’s transformation into Jeff, he writes and acts the part of the character better than Joel McHale himself. He’s able to achieve this because the actual Winger has been warped into a perpetual “first half of season one” version of himself. There’s no growth in Jeff’s character as he still constantly plays with his phone and disregards other people’s feelings in his quest for doing the least work possible to graduate with a “doable, passable “ final history project. It’s as if he never met his father or defended Shirley in court at the end of season three.
At the same time, you really can’t get past the Freaky Friday bit since this episode was inexplicably chosen to delve into Britta and Troy’s relationship, as it was apparently their one-year anniversary. It was sad to see Britta spilling her guts out to Troy, who’s actually in Abed’s body in this episode. It was a complete farce, which surprisingly and accurately described their relationship. This revelation of course brings up the question that can be applied to the entire season four, “Why is this here?” What was the point of Troy and Britta’s relationship? As Troy says when he breaks up with Britta, “I wanted it to work, I did…” But the writers never put any effort into making their relationship seem real at all. In fact, there’s been no depth to any of the implied storylines of the season such as Chang’s (Ken Jeong) “Changnesia” and Abed’s romance with Rachel (Brie Larson). For every episode there have just been parodies, themes, more parodies, and the inevitable ending group hug scene.
Maybe my disappointment with Community these days stems from unrealistic expectations. Perhaps I shouldn’t expect a continuing storyline, creative jokes, innovative callbacks, the perfect timing of jokes, and the occasional transcendent theme episode. Except everything mentioned above was consistently done in the first three seasons. In the latest season, there are constant callbacks that are out of place like, “He’s [Abed] the pick-up sticks of people,” or jokes that are constantly being explained like, “We have a murder mystery night during the day.” Parodies are abundant to the point that the show seems like a parody, and there is no continuity in the show; each episode can be watched on its own since nothing substantial carries over anymore. It’s gotten to the point that I only watch now to see my favorite study group graduate. Because this season is no doubt the “Darkest Timeline.”
For more like this ‘Community’ TV review, check out Uinterview’s TV review section here.