'Community' recap: Blowguns and Betty White
Another semester gets underway at Greendale Community College -– Home of the Human Beings! -– and it’s the start of a new season for “Community” too.
Here’s where I was going to insert my screed about yet another appearance by everybody’s current favorite sassy old broad -– Betty White -– but I have to hand it to “Community’s” writers. None of that clichéd “Oh, look what Grandma said now” silliness. Instead, we get a Betty White playing it straight. Well, as straight as you can be when you’re holding a contraption involving a dog restraint pole and a bunch of other weapons, or drinking urine favored by the yogis of India. Hollywood, take note: Ms. White’s not a one-trick pony. Remember that!
But I digress. It’s the first day of classes, and what better way to re-introduce the gang after summer vacation than with a tour of their bedrooms -– and their personalities: movie- and TV-fixated Abed (Danny Pudi); jock/super hero Troy (Donald Glover); Pierce (Chevy Chase), still lost in the Me Generation; sweet and flowery Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown); a buff Jeff (Joel McHale), who appears to do his morning exercises in an office; Annie (Alison Brie) in her childhood bedroom; and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) with a bedroom as messy as her life.
From there, we rehash a few details from last season -– Jeff and Britta’s hook-up during the fantastic paintball episode, Jeff and Annie’s lip lock (“technically, we Frenched”) -- and learn that Troy and Pierce are now roommates, providing Troy with an abundance of material for his Old White Man Says Twitter page (600,000 friends and counting). And since Spanish appears to be off the class list now that Señor Chang’s been “outed” as a frustrated key-tar player, it looks like the new focus is Anthropology 101. And it being “Community,” everybody’s signed up, including Chang (Ken Jeong) and Star-Burns (Dino Stamatopoulos), who’s rocking the Jerry Garcia look in that top hat.
The set decorators outdid themselves on the Anthro 101 classroom. Everything from tools to masks to a cradleboard, and more. White’s professor June Bauer also rocks. Perhaps if my Anthro 101 professor and his classroom had been equally festive, I might not have switched to journalism, which, truth be told, is really just a form of cultural anthropology. And I bet there are more than a few teachers out there who wish they had a poison dart-armed blowgun for use in their classrooms. Too bad that’s against the law. But I digress.
The episode is titled “Anthropology 101,” and there is definitely an anthropological lesson to be learned here -- about humans, humanity, respect and tools -- as Jeff and Britta’s mutual game of kissy-kissy-I-wuv-you-one-upmanship leads to multiple revelations (Sex on the study table! Lip locks with tongue! Dogs are boys, cats are girls!), an almost wedding courtesy of Abed (complete with a George Clooney impersonator and an Irish singer warbling Jeff and Britta-themed lyrics to the tune of the Cranberries’ “Linger”) and playful references to last season. By the end, things are back to their usual uneven keel, Jeff’s been nearly strangled by Bauer and revived by a urine cocktail and we get a gander at the two faces of Señor Chang. All Abed wanted to do was give them an interesting first week. I think he got his wish.
Best line of the night: “Is there any room in this pocket for a little spare Chang?”
Extra credit: This week, Troy and Abed -– with the help of Professor Bauer -– do a pretty good rap of the genus, species, etc. of humans, segueing into a rendition of Toto’s “Africa.” The writers gave it four stars. I’d give it an A. Good job.
-- Alison Dingeldein
Photo: Betty White as anthropology professor June Bauer on "Community." Credit: Trae Patton / NBC