March 22, 2012

Quick Thoughts: COMMUNITY, "Contemporary Impressionists"

Last week, I wrote about how Community has had a problem with balancing "normal" episodes with the "high concept" ones this season, and after one that leaned more towards the former end of the spectrum, "Contemporary Impressionists" piled on the weird. Now, this is Community so these kinds of episodes can be good while also being somewhat problematic.

I've been very upfront about how I prefer my Community to be more grounded in reality and doesn't soley rely on making references to pop culture institutions, so "Contemporary Impressionists" should have been one of my least favorite episodes of the year. While I did have some issues with it, I'd have to say that I rather enjoyed this one because it took time to really treat the characters as people.

By far my favorite moments revolved around Troy and Abed which is usually the case. Yes, I know that I prefer a saner version of this show, and these two are the wackiest of the bunch, but their friendship has been a source of such great material that any episode that shines a spotlight on them will rank up there, and I was really impressed with where they ended up during "Impressionists." Many shows refuse to let their characters and sometimes the relationships between their characters) grow, so the fact that we got a good understanding of why these two are best friends as wells as glimpse at how they're going to be eventually grow apart was the right mix of sweet and sad. Now, Troy and Abed may very well be BFFs, but I'd respect this show more if they fundamentally change how these two interact with one another down the line because it adds a sense of realism into a very unrealistic world. It would be bold, polarizing and awesome.

Some of the sillier elements also landed for me like Jeff becoming the Hulk because his ego got the better of him. It wasn't as poignant as what Troy and Abed had to go through, but Jeff realizing what his problems are and that he needs help was another nice moment of growth. The fact that his plot also explored his bond with Britta was just icing on the cake. While I don't ship these two, I have enjoyed watching their relationship grow much like the aforementioned pairing. Unfortunately, some of the gags didn't work as well. For example, the whole celebrity look-a-like bit got old really fast.

Also, anytime Chang shows up, the episode automatically gets docked a couple of points because he's such a grating character. Pretty much all of my least favorite episodes have been Chang-heavy, so the fact that he popped up to start his own platoon of mini-security guards was disheartening to say the least. Admittedly, he's a better villain than a sadsack, so him wielding what little power he has to get back at the Study Group could surprise me, but I'm not going to give it the benefit of the doubt because he's yet to prove to me that he's essential to the show. His nod to Patton was a nice touch though.

While writing this recap, I realized that it's not normal vs. conceptual for me. I think what's more important than accessibility is the relationships that these people have with one another. I can put up with meta-heavy commentary if I get some good Troy and Abed or Jeff and Annie scenes because these are the moments that make up the heart of the show. I just hope more people could appreciate them, but I'm afraid "Contemporary Impressionists" may have been too zany for its own good, and the casual fans who tuned in last week may flee after this one. Such is the curse of Community.


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