Community: Lawnmower Maintenance and Postnatal Care

"I'll never get out of here, will I?"
"I haven't met many that do."

This episode doesn't really have an A plot and a B plot, but two stories sharing more or less equal space. While Jeff tracks down the creator of a virtual reality filing system to get him to pull the Dean out of it, Britta discovers that all of her friends, not having enough money to support her themselves, have been secretly seeing her parents behind her back.

I liked the Britta storyline in this episode a lot. Families on Community tend to be absent, in order to explain why the study group are so important to each other, but over the years a few gaps have been filled in. We met Abed's father way back in the show's third episode, and Pierce's family figured fairly largely in earlier seasons, while season five fleshed out Jeff's and Shirley's relations. Britta and Annie remained the biggest gaps, both financially and emotionally cut off (though Annie is close with her grandmother) so it makes sense to fill some of that in, and the story is good character development for Britta as well.

The thing I like the most about this storyline is that Britta wasn't just screaming into the void for no reason. She's messed up because her parents really were messing her up in her teen years, in a hyper strict and paranoid way. (Even what we hear doesn't sound quite as bad as the various dark hints we've had about Britta's parents in the past have implied, but it's clear she wasn't inventing a problem out of nothing). The problem is that they have genuinely changed and Britta is refusing to accept the olive branch, which is why her friends have accepted it for her.

The episode's other story is designed to introduce what is presumably our final new core cast member, Keith David as Elroy Patashnik. Like Paget Brewster's Frankie, who was switched between both storylines the better to try to blend her in, it is always going to be an uphill struggle for both actor and writers to integrate this new character into a very well-established group dynamic and it remains to be seen how successful this is, but so far he fits in reasonably well. The character certainly has the perfect Greendale backstory, living in a Winnebago and being an expert in a defunct technology.

That technology might have been the reason the rest of this plot didn't really grab me, though there was nothing terribly wrong with it. I don't really remember virtual reality apart from a few jokes on Red Dwarf and I've never seen Lawnmower Man or any of the other films referenced, so it didn't mean much to me. Still, the scenes set within the virtual reality were sort of fun, and the contrast between Jeff's bored but not surprised reaction and Frankie's quiet horror highlighted her status as the new everyman and his absolute absorption into Greendale.

Cool Cool Cool

 - Although the gag went on a bit too long, I did laugh at Chang's calm description of Britta's cat reaching bone at the beginning. So far, he's being used reasonably well this season (she says with all due caution).

 - I'm starting to kinda like Jeff and Frankie together (I'm very fickle, having shipped both Jeff/Britta and Jeff/Annie over the years). She reminds me of Professor Slater.

 - The moment when Britta and Abed try to do the Troy and Abed hand clap is sadness wrapped in a ball of morbidly cute.

 - Britta's dad is Principal Kraft from Sabrina the Teenage Witch! (I get over-excited when people from 1990s Nickelodeon shows turn up in stuff).

 - I really like the tags on these extended episodes, which exist as complete skits on their own, frequently depicting a show or film referenced within the episode. This time around, it's Portuguese Gremlins, which I found reasonably amusing even though I haven't seen Gremlins either.

Quiet, but it does the job. Two and a half out of four Portuguese Gremlins.

Juliette Harrisson is a freelance writer, classicist and ancient historian who blogs about Greek and Roman Things in Stuff at Pop Classics.


FlopHairedWuss said...


I think I enjoyed this episode more than you did. Like you said, the Britta storyline was the stronger subplot. But I did enjoy the Dean subplot quite a bit and it got some big laughs from me.

On the other hand it just doesn't feel the same without Troy and Shirley. Without them it doesn't quite feel like the Community I know and love.

Juliette said...

I did enjoy his mixing up of "Jesus wept' and quotes about Alexander the Great...!

The virtual reality was kinda fun, and Jim Rash sold the heck out of it, as ever!

Josie Kafka said...

Although the gag went on a bit too long, I did laugh at Chang's calm description of Britta's cat reaching bone at the beginning. So far, he's being used reasonably well this season (she says with all due caution).

I agree with both your caution and the laughter at Chang's description.

This episode is one of the few from this season where I really feel like it's stretched needlessly long. The scene between Jeff and Patashnik about whether or not someone would say "Who's asking?" if they were the person being asked about was twice the length it needed to be.