daniel cohen studies up …
Plot: In classic Freaky Friday format, Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi) ‘body switch’ as a way for Troy to deal with him and Britta’s (Gillian Jacobs) impending 1 year anniversary.
Finally! It’s taken 11 weeks into the season, but we finally have a Community episode that is on the level of the first three seasons. Aside from the fantastic plotline, the biggest reason this episode works is very simple…IT WAS FUNNY! Yeah, I actually laughed at Community again. The Puppet episode a couple weeks back was solid, but here I got genuine gut laughs.
If you were going to tell me a few weeks ago that there was going to be a Community episode where Troy and Abed switch places, a la Freaky Friday, I would have said ‘I’m sure it will be forced, just like everything else this season.’ But I was more than pleasantly surprised. Danny Pudi and Donald Glover deserve gold stars for their performances. This was pitch perfect as they emulated each other beautifully. I love Troy’s reaction waking up as Abed with his eyes bulged out. And of course we know this isn’t real, so the return of the Senor Kevin’s waiter who hates Die Hard testing Abed as Troy was glorious. The tension of seeing whether or not Abed would break character was magnificent. And this whole concept was a great way to deal with the whole Troy/Britta relationship in classic meta Community fashion.
But Troy and Abed weren’t the only stars this week. This was Joel McHale’s funniest episode of the season as Jeff. He was in rare form, just one-liners left and right, and the classic, ‘let’s get this stupid bit over with so I can pass my class.’ The funniest moment of the episode is when Jeff and ‘Abed’ bust into a janitor’s meeting. I won’t spoil the joke, but it’s pure goofy fun.
Jim Rash as Dean Pelton also shined with a body switch of his own. Rash was brilliant as ‘Jeff.’ I want an entire episode centered around Dean Pelton, he might be my favorite character right now. Annie’s (Alison Brie) reaction to Pelton playing ‘Jeff’ was great, and I love the whole confusion of her freaking out on why she is suddenly attracted to Pelton.
Speaking of Annie though, one of the biggest problems this season has been her character. There’s nothing wrong with Alison Brie’s performance, but she has just been completely unlikable. She’s always been the grade obsessive lunatic, but they are amping it up way too much this season. They’ve introduced this whole ‘Annie is competing with Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) for valedictorian’ plotline, and there’s a scene where she is explaining why their group history project needs an A so she can stay in the running, but keeps ignoring that Shirley is also in the running as she keeps piping in. Both characters just come across as annoying and overly vindictive, and this whole valedictorian thing needs to go away, and go away fast. The only bright side to this was a nice funny little revelation about Leonard (Richard Erdman), so it wasn’t all bad.
Overall, a funny, clever, and touching Community episode. And this is what I’ve been saying all season. Develop the characters, but do it in a funny way, and that’s what they did with here with Troy. I also love the tag of fake outtakes at the end. With two episodes left, hopefully they can keep the momentum up and end the season strongly.
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Great)