Community S05E12: “Basic Story”

…an episode reminding us all the importance of “your ass getting appraised, insurance style!”

Now that’s more like it, Community!  This was one bonkers episode, and I loved every minute of it.  I mean, who better than Broken Lizard’s Jay Chandrasekhar to step up as director and steer the bizarre comedic sensibilities interwoven throughout?  From Dean Pelton attempting to commit suicide by vending machine to hardcore buried treasure twerking, I laughed raucously for the duration.

I consider this an even more impressive feat when considering that “Basic Story” amounted, essentially, to a set-up episode.  I mean, for crying out loud, Abed’s B-story involved him running around Greendale in a desperate attempt to manufacture some form of narrative, unaccustomed as he is to a sense of normalcy on campus.  As far as I could discern, the meta-commentary that resulted from this seemed to speak to Community‘s penchant for the wacky, to situational comedies in general that require some kind of incident to jumpstart the episode’s plot, and to “Basic Story” serving as an obvious set up.  Some great sight gags resulted from Abed’s attempt to unearth a narrative from the mundane goings-on of a “normal” day at Greendale: the pan over to a student slurping down chicken soup, a rather lengthy shot of students rifling through the library stacks, the steady cam shot tracing Abed’s frantic search for…well, for, anything.  It was all so bizarre (um, hey there, Abed with a beard, what up?), but in the world of Community, it worked.  It worked better than it should have.

Of course, Abed’s quest for some kind of story came about due to the unequivocal success of the Save Greendale Committee.  The demonologist has exorcised the gymnasium of malevolent spirits!  Vending machines are no longer death traps!  The soccer field has grass!  What else is there to do?  In other words, Annie’s bulletin board of success stories is all filled up, so all the Committee can do is savor the atypical feelings of contentment and accomplishment.

That is, until the drunk school board guys decide to try to sell Greendale off to the highest bidder.  Enter an insurance appraiser, armed with a flashy new briefcase and a rather loose definition of “dog”, and we have a story!  Unfortunately, the appraiser cannot find too many flaws with Greendale because of the Committee’s success, so Greendale actually has value!  Yay!  Unfortunately, that means it’s going to be sold to Subway for a profit and become a sandwich university!  Boo!**

**I loved that Subway would be the company to take over Greendale and not just because the library’s been renamed “Subwayary” because yes.  Subway has a unique relationship with cult NBC shows (oh hey, Chuck, how you doin’?), so it worked, again, better than it should have.

Of course, all this is back story for the true narrative we’ll get next week.  As Dean Pelton finishes crying on the floor in his tighty-whities and packing up his office (not necessarily in that order), he, Annie, and Abed find a treasure map behind the portrait of Russell Borchard, infamous maker of love to various pieces of technology and a surprising dead ringer for Chris Elliot–hey, wait a minute!  This, clearly, was the episode’s goal: put the treasure map in the hands of our beloved characters and let the hunt begin…next week.

Along the way, Jeff proposes marriage to Britta…*Dramatic tire squeal* Yeah, I know.  It’s random.  Let’s see what happens next week because, as much as I thought this episode delivered the comedic goods consistently, we sort of have to.  “Basic Story” couldn’t really stand on its own story-wise, which is fine because this is definitely one of the most entertaining (and unapologetically obvious) set-up episodes I’ve seen.

So grab your map and your Subway undershirt, and get ready!  We’ll see you next week.


Quotes from the Refurbished Study Room

– Shirley: “I got a problem.  I don’t like Abed’s problem with our lack of problems.”

– Hickey: “I’ve seen insurance appraisers bleed.  Their blood is different.  Darker.”

– Jeff: “This inspection is going to be the most boring thing to happen to Greendale since Britta dated Troy.”  Zing!

– Hickey: “If I have to come over there, there’s going to be two sounds: me hitting you…twice.”

– Dean Pelton [trying to pull vending machine on top of himself]: “Let me be one of the six this year!”

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