'Community' Recap: Doing the Homage Justice
Friday, April 27, 2012
Community has long established itself as a genius of comedic parodies, and last night's Law & Order spoof was no exception. Once again, "Basic Lupine Urology" hit all the right notes tonally and stylistically - bringing us back to the classic crime procedural genre - while managing to position our favorite characters in its archetypal roles in the best ways. It somehow managed to make us interested in a "case" about a tampered yam experiment and provide some twists and laughs along the way.
The Order: Trobed as Good Cop/Bad Cop
After Annie and Jeff discover the defamation of their biology yam project, Shirley, who apparently watches a lot of crimes shows when she's bored, enlists Troy and Abed to find the perpetrator in the next 48 hours before the trail runs cold. As serious investigators questioning their suspects (which progresses from Todd to Magnitude to Starburns, back to Todd), Troy and Abed's delivery of their inevitably clever dialogue is spot-on. Best of all, their switching off from good cop and bad cop confirms why we missed this strong duo's dynamic during all that blanket war nonsense (another great Community parody).
The Law: Jeff and Annie Take Over
As Jeff and Annie, who have continued their natural chemistry repeatedly this season, catch up on Trobed's findings, they realize they need to get ethically ambiguous in order to serve justice in time. Breaking into Starburns' locker, Troy and Abed discover Starburns' personal meth lab he's been building using the biology lab's beakers. Finding their needed leverage, they are brought back to their first suspect: the Iraq war veteran and all-around nice guy Todd.
After Todd's former colonel appears (in uniform, sending the Dean into a predictable tizzy) to defend the group's egregious charge of yam-tampering, Professor Kane (guest star Michael K. Williams) determines a "trial" should be conducted as to Todd's innocence or guilt. Unfortunately, the colonel got to Starburns, Jeff and Annie's only witness, so Annie's forced to use her manipulative savvy to weed a confession out of the too-perfect Todd. When she succeeds, she's too smug to see what the perceptive Jeff realizes: Todd is actually innocent.
Though he picked up their yam to examine it, he involuntarily dropped it because it was hot - leading Jeff to the crucial clue: the class's yams had all been boiled - except Vicki's. When she's exposed, (Fat) Neil steps forward, admitting his desire to finally seal the deal with her pushed him to sabotage the other yam experiments so she wouldn't have to suffer through summer school due to a failed yam project.
The Twist: An Unexpected Death
While celebrating their investigative victory, Jeff, Annie, the Dean and Professor Kane learn of an unfortunate accident: Starburns' meth lab exploded, resulting in his untimely death. While this was a bit of a surprise, it had been revealed that someone would die during Community's "darkest season." I'm not sure if it had any lasting impact, but there may be some Starburns fans out there who feel differently.
Verdict: Parodies -- Even for the Sake of Parody -- Can Be Rewarding
Last week's episode delved deep into the buried layers of Abed's serious insecurities, and while those more intense episodes that further character development are important and appreciated, stories where the show simply gets to spoof on some pop culture reference for pure entertainment value are enjoyable as well. One of Community's strengths is balancing that elusive line between light-hearted comedy and darker character issues that provide emotional weight, and this week's entertaining episode proved that once again.
What did you all think of this week's homage to Law & Order? Were you surprised (and sad) about the loss of Starburns? Did the conclusion of the Pam the Yam case satisfy you?
(Image courtesy of NBC)