Community S05E13: “Basic Sandwich”

…an episode reminding us all the importance of “pick axing and electric zapping.”

For most of Community‘s run, Jeff Winger’s disdainful attitude toward Greendale often set him at (admittedly temporary) odds with his friends.  He refused to accept the fact that, like it or not, being both a student and now professor at Greendale is part of his DNA.  Given recent Internet speculation, there’s a possibility that “Basic Sandwich” could serve as a series finale to this underdog comedy, and if that’s the case, Jeff embracing this crazy place with pride feels like an excellent way to conclude his arc.  As the old saying goes: it ain’t perfect, but it’s home.

As we anticipated from last week’s bonkers set-up episode, the discovery of the treasure map led our gang to the depths of Randall Borchert’s secret lair of computer love-making.**  This wasn’t the zaniest half hour Community has put together, but I’m sort of glad; at times this season, in his zeal to reestablish the Community of old, Harmon overextended himself.  Sometimes the gimmick worked; sometimes it didn’t.  I’m glad he reined it in a bit here without sacrificing the funny because boy did this episode (like its predecessor) crack me up, and let’s be honest–even with its relative restraint–this still felt like no other comedy on television.

**Chris Elliot btw, donning the grossest beard this side of Duck Dynasty, absolutely killed it.  The man seductively licked his computer lover, Racquel (excellent name), for crying out loud!  That’s commitment!

Along the way, though, Community treated us to some hilarious sequences, didn’t it?  Professor Duncan’s electrocution and subsequent hallucination of doves (though not enough to mark the wedding of Britta and Jeff, obvi), Dean Pelton choking on an action figure’s rocket (not a euphemism), Abed’s fourth-wall shattering wink to the audience, what I can only describe as a prolonged “shush” off, and School Board Richie’s “mind robbery” of Hickey (“You’ll find a hang-glider!”) all stood as vintage moments for this show–call them canon.  Pelton was right: a one hour episode of The Office this was not.  When it comes down to it, we’re watching this show to laugh, and–if you have a pulse and a sense of humor–you undoubtedly did so.  Also, Community  answered a burning question, and Jeff and Pelton agree on its answer: Donald Sutherland.  ‘Nuff said.

But, in the tradition of the best installments of this show, the comedy had some real heft to hang its hat on.  In addition to Jeff’s aforementioned pride in Greendale, we also had some great news for those shipping the U.S.S. JeffNie.  After the school board guys and Chang*** follow our group down to Borchert’s lab and break Racquel (damn pesky pickle magnets!), our favorite computer humping scientist realizes he needs more emotion than that generated by the erotic teasing of his own nipples.  And, lo and behold, Jeff of all people volunteers to jumpstart Borchert’s disturbing sex object/miracle of technology.

***Chang, please try to rip your face off in alternating episodes from now on because that will never not be funny.

Throughout the episode, Annie struggled with the news of Jeff’s proposal to Britta,**** clearly unable to move past her own feelings for him.  So JeffNie shippers no doubt rejoiced when it was a season one callback that rebooted Racquel (“M’lord”/”M’lady.”)  Aww!  So cute, you guys.  Thanks to Jeff’s newfound font of what the pleebs call “emotions,” the group escapes and interrupts Subway’s press conference/purchase of Greendale with an announcement of Borchert’s status as ongoing stakeholder in the college.

****Though fortunately by show’s end, the novelty of the joke wears off, leading them to drop the schtick.  Phew.  Even for Community, that got weird.

Greendale saved!  Sorry, evil conglomerate.  You might have wanted to turn Greendale into a parking lot because you don’t believe in it, but as Pelton retorts, that’s just a Wednesday: Greendale is a family used to being overlooked, undervalued, and dismissed out of hand.  At this point, such scorn has lost its impact because being the underdog is all they know.  Pretty poetic, eh?

If this is the end–really, truly, the end of Community–I have to admit, I would be satisfied.  I guess it just Depends On What Fails, am I right?  Ha!  Great stinger!  Sure, I would follow these characters and their zany antics to the end of time and hope desperately that it returns to fulfill its #sixseasonsandamovie promise, but this two-part finale reminded us what makes this show so special.  Season five didn’t completely absolve its fourth season self of its myriad issues (had quite a few on its own, actually), but television is just a better place with Greendale on the map.

I hope to write another thirteen such reviews for the show, but for now, let’s not lament the possibility of cancellation but celebrate a story well-told and loaded with laughs.  Because, at its best, Community soared to mind-boggling creative heights the likes of which a network sitcom has never seen.  That’s got to mean something, right NBC?

That’s your cue, Starburns!  Fire up the DMB!


Quotes from the Refurbished Study Room

– Pelton: “Some people said he hid his money using a portal to another dimension.  Those people were on LSD.  Everyone else said he had a secret vault in his office.”

– Pelton: “Oh, look!  It’s Jeff Winger Fun Police!  He’s here to pull over our smiles because our mouths have tinted windows!”

– Duncan [recently electrocuted]: “Married?  Well then you’re going to need way more doves that this.”

– Abed: “Let me rip off the band-aid.  Dennis Hopper is dead; TV shows leave no room for theme songs anymore; Woody Allen supplied the voice of a cartoon ant.” Ha!  Excellent recap of pop culture for Borchert!

– Abed: “We’ll definitely be here next year.  If not, it’s because an asteroid has destroyed all of human civilization.  And that’s canon.” [Smiles into camera]

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