'Community' recap: Politics a joke? Well ...
It’s election day at Greendale. Time for a little grandstanding and a whole lot of skewering of the political process –- and if the heart gets in the way, so be it. So get your speeches and dirty tricks ready, Greendalers -- it’s time to play politics.
Seems that the vice president is bringing his “Biden Time Talkin' Bout Teachin' Tour” to Greendale. There’s just one hitch:Greendale doesn’t have a student president. But, hey, no prob-- the veep’s not going to be there for seven hours. Plenty of time to elect a prez, and anyway, it beats studying anthropology or listening to Pierce (Chevy Chase) talk about being in rehab with Tom Sizemore.
Britta (Gillian Jacobs) gets all left wing and is quickly shot down. Poor Britta, born too late. If she’d been around in the ’60s, she would’ve been at the front of the pack of college radicals taking over the dean’s office or torching the campus ROTC building.
Annie (Alison Brie), of course, is just brimming with ideas to make Greendale a better place. And surprise, surprise, Jeff (Joel McHale) scoffs at that idealism: “Improving Greendale takes more than ideas, Annie. It takes time, gasoline, matches.” Chalk another one up on Abed’s (Danny Pudi) “Classic ‘Wingers’ ” notches. And did we mention Jeff’s abs? Well, Annie did, so add another notch there. And, what the hell, Troy (Donald Glover), add another notch to the notches. Why not? It’s Greendale.
Over in the cafeteria, Dean Pelton is sporting his “sister’s” Uncle Sam outfit. OMG! Only Jim Rash could pull off this look of hot pants, tall red boots and a cute little hat perched at a rakish angle and held in place with a headband. Across the room, Jeff is dodging Annie’s efforts to get him to pitch in. He’s not the worker bee type. He’s more a “silver-backed gorilla with the claws of a lion, the teeth of a shark and the quiet dignity of a tortoise.” Squabble, squabble, squabble. Tension is in the air, shippers!
OK, here are the rules: Line up by the ice cream machine, state your case, and if you get enough applause, you make the primary. Quick, easy and cheap. And we’ve got a surprise candidate: Mr. Glib himself, who believes politics is all about “ego, popularity and parlor tricks” and is running only to prove Annie wrong. Of course, he’s a natural manure shoveler -- “I’m just a fella … beer should be cold, boots should be dusty, 9/11 was bad and freedom, well, I think that’s just a little bit better.” Standing O? You bet.
While Jeff and Annie battle each other, Abed is confronted by two people in black, who demand to know how he knew they were on campus undercover (um, you might try removing the telltale earpieces next time). “We’re not used to being noticed,” Secret Service agent Robin Vohlers (Eliza Coupe) tells Abed. “That sounds a little sad.”
Hate to break this up, Abed, but you’ve got an election to follow with Troy on GCTV. Stay tuned to “Decisiongate: Gateway to Election Road” for all the latest on Annie, Leonard Rodriguez (Richard Erdman), who changed his last name “trying to court the Hispanic vote”); Alex “Starburns” Osbourne (Dino Stamatopoulos), a “possible drug dealer”; crowd favorite Jeff Winger (“They call him hot wings”); Magnitude (Luke Youngblood), “pop, pop!”; Pierce Hawthorne (Troy: “He’s got night terrors and a rotary phone); Garrett Stevens (Erik Charles Nielsen, “That guy's just a mess. It’s like God spilled a person”); and Vicki (Danielle Kaplowitz).
While Troy ponders politics, Annie’s informing Jeff that not only will she beat him but she’ll also make him cry, and Abed’s making eyes with Agent Vohlers. Focus, y’all -- it’s time for the candidates’ debate. A little decorum, please. Oh, wait -- this is Greendale, where Pierce goes off on fellow candidate Vicki because she wouldn’t lend him a pencil, and Annie channels Daddy Bush (“Read. My. Lips.”) as she takes on Jeff and unveils her dirty weapon: his 1997 audition tape for MTV’s “The Real World” with Jeff channeling George Michael. What???? I’d bolt for the supply closet too, which is where Annie finds Jeff. She’s sorry, he’s sorry, but I’m not. That video was priceless. They hug, and are interrupted by Pierce, who’s got some advice that all candidates should heed: “When we seek to destroy others, we often hurt ourselves, because it is the self that wants to be destroyed.” Pierce, poignant? Well, “Vicki finally lent me her pencil.” Ouch! Better get a tetanus shot.
Meanwhile, back at Election Central, it’s the political showdown of the century: Magnitude (“Pop, pop!”) versus Leonard (“Raspberry!). The competition reflects the pointlessness of life. Who’ll win? Does it really matter? This is classic TV. Oh, and in case you were wondering, in a shocking write-in upset, it was “South Park” by a landslide (seven out of 11 votes cast). Just like 10 years ago.
So, as the confetti is swept away on another Greendale election, Jeff and Annie bond over black mold cleanup and Abed makes sure he’ll get another visit from Agent Vohlers. Sweet. Too bad Joe “I had a dream I was regular president” Biden won’t be visiting -– something about an elevated threat level at Greendale. Quick -- somebody alert City College.
Done right, political satire is a joy to behold. Done "Community”-style, it is brilliant. This should be required viewing in every campaign office and poli-sci class across the land. The story, the dialogue (too many great lines to single one out this week), the execution. Fantastic!
Extra credit: It's another Abed side adventure involving the Secret Service agent. "Honk twice for yes, once for no." Honk, honk.
-- Alison Dingeldein
Top photo: Annie (Alison Brie) makes her pitch as an Uncle Sam-costumed Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) looks on. Bottom photo: A shipper moment courtesy of Annie (Brie) and Jeff (Joel McHale) on "Community." Credits: Lewis Jacobs / NBC