TV Recap: Community, ‘Basic Story’

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Plot: When Greendale gets inspected by an insurance appraiser (Michael McDonald), the results will change the school’s fate forever, leaving the Greendale faithful to contemplate their futures in part one of this two part season finale.

It’s tough to rate this episode, because it’s basically incomplete. This is a true two-parter, a rarity for Community. While the first half was a little rough, the last ten minutes really hits some high notes, and sets up beautifully for an intriguing season finale. And of course with Community, every season finale could potentially be its series finale. Theoretically, this could have been the second to last episode ever of Community.

Photo Credit: Vivian Zink/NBC
Photo Credit: Vivian Zink/NBC

As I mentioned before, nothing really happens in the first half, which is part of the joke. Everyone is content playing video games on their phones. Greendale is in good shape. Chang (Ken Jeong) is normal. There’s no crazy shenanigans. Even Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) doesn’t come into the study room wearing a ridiculous outfit. This causes Abed (Danny Pudi) to freak out about there not being a story going on. To be honest, Abed just hasn’t been that strong this season. I don’t know if it’s a no Troy thing, but something about him just seemed pathetic all year. This storyline encapsulated my feelings on Abed perfectly. The whole “Avoiding a story/Not avoiding a story” thing just did not work for me. hey also shoehorned in the bearded Abed, which felt very season four-ish.

As the crew gets ready for the insurance appraiser, there’s a couple decent one-liners, including a brilliant joke about when Troy and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) dated. But once the fall out of the insurance appraiser comes to fruition is where the episode goes full steam ahead.

There’s a great call back to Subway, which allowed for some really good jokes. Chang singing the five dollar foot-long song was a thing of beauty. In fact, Chang’s arc in this episode was pretty seamless. The entire season he’d been playing it straight, but what they did with him at the end here was perfect. It wasn’t drawn out, it just happened. A great episode for Chang, and hopefully a good preview of things to come.

Photo Credit: Vivian Zink/NBC
Photo Credit: Vivian Zink/NBC

Annie (Alison Brie) and Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) were pretty whatever in this, but it was Jeff (Joel McHale) and Britta who got the strongest scene in the entire episode. Out of no where, Britta reverts back to season one Britta. The conversation between Jeff and Britta was very season one in general, but what was so brilliant about it was how it got ripped away in an instant by the typical Greendale craziness, much like the series itself went from a quirky little comedy about a community college, to alternate timelines and G.I. Joe cartoons.

I’ve been very critical all season of the whole “Save Greendale” storyline, but it had a good pay-off here. They did their job too well. While it takes a while to get going, this was a perfect set-up for what will hopefully be the season finale, and not series finale.

Oh, and Star-Burns (Dino Stamatopoulos) jams out to Dave Matthews Band.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (Very Good)

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Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.