March 15, 2012

Quick Thoughts: COMMUNITY, "Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts"

After a long break, NBC finally brought Community back, and it was a solid episode for the die-hard fans and curious viewers alike. "Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts" had a good amount of the zany meta commentary that's made the show famous within a fairly straightforward story that non-fans could relate to which ultimately led to a pretty fantastic episode.

One of the struggles that Community has is balance. It's known for its highly conceptual episodes that can be smart and funny to some and off-putting to others, but it can also tell normal stories as well when it really wants to. From the looks of it, Dan Harmon and his staff decided to crank of the former episodes in spite of the latter, and Season 3 has had an uneven feeling because of this shift in priorities. There was a time when Community put together an episode that was easily accessible for all audiences with a few pop culture references sprinkled in, but then "Modern Warfare" happened and the game changed. Instead of "normal" stories, viewers were subjected stop motion animation, role playing games, paintball and alternate timelines.

Really, that rant was just a long-winded way for me to say that Community needs to nail more of these "normal" episodes instead of relying too heavily on making obscure jokes about movies no one has seen before if it wants to survive. Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate and enjoy the more conceptual version of this show, but I would also like to be able to relate to it as well, and I was able to just that while watching "Urban Matrimony."

The television wedding's a trope as old as television itself, but it's a solid go to and it was smart for the show to use Shirley's re-engagement to Andre as a way to ease back into the season. Almost everyone has had some experience with weddings, so it's something that we understand to varying extents, but what made this plotline work was how it was the Macguffin for more interesting stories. Sure, it's nice that Shirley's getting re-married to the man who stepped out on her, but I was more interested in her business acumen and where it could take her.

Jeff and Britta had some great moments as well thanks to Shirley's nuptials because the audience got to see more vulnerable sides to the group's most jaded members. Now, I'll admit that their sub-plots were a little silly, but again they were easy to relate to. There are plenty of people out there who are anti-marriage, so it wasn't surprising that these two were amongst their ranks, but we got to understand why they're against it instead of just hearing them make snarky comments the entire time. That's some good character development, and I'm always enjoy watching Joel McHale and Gillian Jacobs work off one another.

It also seemed appropriate that the most meta part of the episode had to do with Troy and Abed trying to be normal. These sly winks to the audience are this show's bread and butter, and I was impressed how Community was able to address its harshest criticisms in such a delightfully sarcastic yet appropriate way. That's something only a few shows can do.

Annie and Pierce did not have a ton to do, but they capitalized on what they were given. Between the two of them, I enjoyed Pierce's involvement in Shirley's business sub-plot because it was another example of this show taking its characters seriously. Pierce has always been one of the more problematic members of the study group, but seeing him feel like an entitled failure and asking Shirley to let him invest in her dreams was genuinely sweet. Annie on the other hand flitted her way through the episode like the sprite that she is and was the muse for both Britta and Jeff. Also, she reminded the audience that the Jeff and Annie pairing is still on the table since she was one of the images slot-machining in his heart.

I don't want Community to give up on its oddball ways because that's what makes it special. That doesn't mean that I'd love it if it was nothing but pop culture riffs and inside jokes because that won't work either. Like I mentioned before, it needs balance. We need solid character driven episodes that lay off the crazy along with remakes every action movie ever produced, and "Urban Matrimony" was able to both in such a successful way that it could be one of the best episodes of the season. Let's hope this is good sign for the future of the study group.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Updates Via E-Mail