by Mark Greig
Whenever the writers of Community knock out an episode like 'Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas', they usually follow it up with an unremarkable episode like this.
‘Asian Population Studies’ isn't bad, it's just not very great (doesn't help that there is an unwelcome abundance of you know what). There are one or two good lines and an adorable ending, but for the most part it is nothing more than Community on autopilot.
During the Christmas break, Annie spent some time doing charity work (naturally) with Dr. Rich, Jeff's pottery class nemesis. Jeff has many reasons to hate Rich. The good doctor is everything that Jeff isn't; a genuinely nice person with many talents who doesn't need to resort to trickery to get people to like him. He is just too darn perfect and that just drives Jeff crazy. But not as much as finding out he's the new object of Annie's infatuation, something Jeff used to be before he screwed it up by being himself.
Annie is so smitten with the seemingly perfect physician that she proposes asking him to join the group. Understandably, everyone is hesitant about such a radical change to their dynamic. All except for Jeff, who is completely opposed to the idea. So opposed, in fact, that he is willing to let It join the group just to keep Rich out. Desperate measures indeed. Being better at everything is one thing, but maybe possibly dating that girl he likes but won't date because its awkward and this isn't a sweeps episode is a step too far.
This is the first episode in a long while to put some focus back on Jeff and Annie's whatever the hell it is that they've got going on. Normally that would be a cause for celebration, but nothing really happens here between them. All this episode does it remind us that Jeff/Annie is still a thing and that it is currently going nowhere. Annie's little speech in the men's room could just as easily be about the writers as it was about Jeff. Either they want them to be together or they don't, which is it? Alas, we are unlikely to get an answer that makes sense any time soon.
My favourite part of the episode was the final scene as we got a nice subversion of that old cliche - running in the rain. We're meant to think that Jeff is going to Annie, who just got turned down by Rich for being too young, but it is so obvious that there is no way he is actually going to Annie. No, instead he goes to Rich, to ask to learn how to be like him. Not because he wants to be a better person. No, no, no, he wants to learn from Rich to be a nice guy so he can abuse his power for personal gain (classic Winger). And Rich, easily manipulated nice guy that he is, can’t turn someone away. Not when he's making muffin tops.
Notes and Quotes
--Selfish motives aside, Jeff has a very good point: just who is Rich? We, the ever observant audience, might know that he is just as messed up as everyone else at Greendale, but to the those same students he is pretty much Mary Poppins.
--After everything we've heard about Shirley's cheating ex-husband, it was a surprise to see him show up as Theo Huxtable (also known as actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner). Try as I might, I just can’t see Theo being a deadbeat who cheats on his wife and abandons his children. I just can't. I mean, he's a fucking Huxtable.
--Britta, I hope this will teach you to check the tickets before you flash.
--Speaking of which, first appearance of the unfortunately nicknamed 'Fat' Neil.
Abed: "We should really start learning people's names."
Jeff: "I agree with brown Jamie Lee Curtis."
Jeff: "Oh I'm serious, baby. I am Yahoo Serious. I'm Serious FM. Welcome to the world serious of seriousness sponsored by Honey Nut Seerioes."
Jeff: "Rich? Annie?"
--Brad! Janet! Dr Scott! Rocky!
Two out of four bags of kettle corn (whatever that is).
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.