Plot: When Annie (Alison Brie) and Professor Hickey (Jonathan Banks) attempt to get a bulletin board repaired in the cafeteria, they face more Greendale red tape then they could possibly imagine.
My first observation when watching this week’s Community was that it was a little strange when Abed (Danny Pudi) started talking about his usual pop culture obsessions, and Troy wasn’t there to join in. But I have to give big kudos to the writers and Danny Pudi, as I was able to seamlessly fall back into classic Abed hi-jinks in no time. We’ll get to Abed later though, as this episode focused mostly on Annie and Greendale’s newest curmudgeon, Professor Buzz Hickey.
After a couple landmark episodes, “Analysis of Cork-Based Networking” returned to standard Community fare, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that. Annie needs to complete a simple task, but uncovers bureaucracy after bureaucracy among Greendale’s corrupt staff of Custodians, IT, and Parking Administrators. The weakness of the episode though was definitely all the random cameos that included the likes of Nathon Fillion, Robert Patrick, and many more. They weren’t bad, but just seemed unnecessary and subpar Greendale characters. Although, full disclosure – I can’t think rationally about Nathan Fillion as he’s been shoved down my throat for so long. I get it, people like Nathan Fillion…leave me alone! But as Annie and Hickey continued rising up the ladder of corruption, they finally get to Dean Pelton (Jim Rash), and that’s where the storyline becomes the most comical. I wish they just used more notable Greendale characters for these roles.
The heart of this story though was the character dynamic between Annie and Hickey, which fired on all cylinders. Alison Brie was at the top of her game, and I am absolutely loving the addition of Jonathan Banks on this show. He just looks so grumpy and out of place at Greendale, it’s perfect.
Aside from the Annie/Hickey shenanigans, we got two fantastic subplots. Chang (Ken Jeong) is usually a hit or miss character, and thankfully this week he was a hit, as he desperately tries to shed his crazy Chang-isms by coming up with a good theme for the midterm dance. This ensued the hilarious “Bear Down for Midterms” and “Fat Dog” motifs, which progressively got funnier and funnier, including a hilarious Wikipedia line, and a perfect Garrett moment at the end. This episode also reminded me of how great it is having John Oliver back as Professor Ian Duncan.
We were also treated to a romantic subplot between Abed (Danny Pudi) and a deaf student (Katie Leclerc), while Britta (Gillian Jacobs) tries to spoil a sci-fi series of novels to get revenge on Abed for ruining a TV show earlier. This whole episode was Abed in his element. Without spoiling too much, there’s a sign language conversation about Ewoks…do I really have to say more? The only strange part about this whole thing was Britta doing something I felt was waaaaaaaaaaay out of character. They try and justify it, but it definitely felt off. And even though it was a minor subplot, this episode developed Abed more then in most Community storylines, as they bring back a character from Season 4 right at the end, but it totally worked, and could definitely have huge implications for future episodes.
Overall, a solid Community episode, and official proof that the show will continue on just fine without one of its key cogs.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (Very Good)