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Community: Curriculum Unavailable

“We're all kind of crazytown banana pants.”

So we had some very good news last week. Against the odds, Community has been renewed for a fourth season. We'll be getting 13 more episodes. I know a lot of people are bitter about that, but I'm not too bothered by it. Maybe it's because I'm British and am used to sitcoms having six episode seasons. To me, 13 is still quite a lot. That's one more than Fawlty Towers ever had.

At this point we don't know whether or not those 13 episodes will be the show's last. When Community returns in the autumn it will be moved to Friday's and paired with... Whitney? Okay, I'll be honest and admit that I've never seen a single episode of Whitney but my comedy spider-sense (which has never once let me down) tells me it is not good.

So even with the renewal, the future doesn't look too good for Community. But I'd rather the show went out at the top of its game (like The Beatles) rather than have it keep rocking on long, long, long past its best (like The Rolling Stones). The light that burns twice as bright, burns half as long, and you have burned so very, very brightly, Community. You've done things other sitcom writers wouldn't believe. Epic paintball wars. Episodes about multiple timelines. Reviving Chevy Chase's career. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears... in rain. Well, that's not really true. We'll have the DVDs and thanks to these 13 episodes, Community will live on in syndication for generations to come.

I've been feeling for a long time now that the writers are starting to run out of ideas. Many episodes this season have revisited ideas or plot lines from previous seasons. This episode was no different. Like season two's "Paradigms of Human Memory" it was another clip show that used clips from episodes that, alas, never were. While they might be running out of ideas for episodes, it is a relief to know that they haven't run out of jokes. "Curriculum Unavailable" doesn't reach the same dizzying heights of "Paradigms of Human Memory" but it was still hilarious. With no need to worry about an actual plot to give everything some context it was just wall to wall jokes, each one more bizarre than the last. The best was the montage of the various Greendale classes. That one had me in stitches.

Things took a turn for the “wah” when the shrink announced that there was no Greendale. They'd all been locked up in a mental asylum for three years. It was at that point that it became obvious that Chang was behind all of this. And he would've gotten away with it to if it weren't for those pesky kids. But he did have them going for a while. It is not hard to believe that this lot could've been sectioned at one point. Apart from Abed, who is sane and has the test results to prove it, they all have some serious mental health issues. They could all do with some time in proper therapy. They are running the risk of becoming dangerously co-dependent on each other. Well, okay more dangerously co-dependent on each other.

Notes and Quotes

-- It's been two months since everyone was expelled. Which begs the question, what have they been doing with themselves? Have they got jobs?

-- It was rather sweet of the group to realise how much the Dean means to them. They might find him annoying most of the time but he clearly loves and cares about this group and values them above all other students. They're his favourites.

-- I'd like to take a moment to appreciate Officer Cackowski. The Inspector Spacetime loving, Antiques Roadshow watching officer of the law is one of the show's best peripheral characters, despite his minimal screentime. He always brings the funny every time he shows up.

-- We got some great new Dean costumes including a fireman, a ZZ Top janitor and a 20s flapper.

-- Other classes at Greendale include Baby Talk, Advanced Breath Holding, Can I Fry That? and Ladders.

-- The asylum sequence, with everyone acting out scenes from old episodes (including the previous clip show), was terrific.

-- There isn't anything crazy about thinking Shirley is a bad person for liking Brett Ratner. She is a bad person.

-- I don't understand the whole clocks going back thing either. It makes no sense!

Troy: “You have to understand about Abed, he’s usually adorable weird like Mork from Ork but since we got expelled he’s been creepy weird like present day Robin Williams.”

Dr. Heidi: “And you’ve attended Greendale for three years, but don’t community colleges end after two?”
Jeff: “Everyone’s always saying that. The average community college student attends school for 5-7 years. Many offer 4 year degrees.”

Troy: “May your dreams be sweet, and your nightmares be spooky monster scary and not grandma died scary.”

Britta: "The Dean has been kidnapped. He is out there, somewhere, alone and cold and most likely trying to cobble together a sexy Patty Hurst costume."
Jeff: “Britta’s right. Wait. What?”

Troy: “Please, Mr. Doctor Psychiatrist Sir, please don’t send my best friend to crazy people jail!”

Three and a half out of four $60 bricks.
---
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

7 comments:

  1. I didn't mind revisiting the fake clip show idea, coz it works so well and whereas the last one was crazy (expensive) adventures they never had, this one was normal (cheap, standing-sets) things from Greendale we didn't see. I like it when the shows remembers it's supposed to be set at a community college!

    I love the officer, but the line quoted at the top of the review was probably my least favourite line on Community ever (similar to when Sex and the City randomly mentioned the war in Northern Ireland once). Was it supposed to be funny? Urgh.

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  2. Julliette, I originally started this review talking about Officer Cackowski and picked his farewell line to lead into it. Doesn't really work now since I've mucked 'bout with the review so I think I'll change.

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  3. I do love Cackowski - just not that line! :)

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  4. Great review, Mark. I didn't like the episode so much, though. Don't know why, exactly.

    I'm really satisfied that two of my favorites (Community and Fringe) will be getting another 13 episode season. Lately, the best shows have the 13-episode-per-season format. I'd be much more upset if they'd been canceled without a chance to wrap up. And let's face it, it's probably their last season, and they'll probably work towards an end.

    Ah, Fawlty Towers! I just love John Cleese, and in the last episode, when he says "Care for a rat?", it's one of the highest points in comedy ever. It brings me to tears.

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  5. Parenthesis here :

    I'm Canadian and I adore the IT crowd. Six episodes per season-series. Less than our standards, but high in the quality level. At this rate, no(t really) time for a less stronger ep...

    ++++

    This was a LMAO episode and I almost took the bait, being--almost--convinced that this was a collective craziness.

    I'm giving it a four and, as I said earlier, yay ! The show got Fringed ! (and I know that the Fringe writers wont be britta-ing their last season LOL)

    This show will remain amongst my faves in my DVD collection...

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  6. I actually loved this one. Maybe not as brilliant as the Paradigms of Human Memory, but it was hilarious. I love John Hodgeman. And the scenes in the Greendale Mental Institution had me howling. Because, Greendale Community College isn't far removed from that. I'm happy about the 13 episode pick-up. And I'll have the DVDs to enjoy for years. Plus, Comedy Central has picked up Community to run its reruns. Yay!

    Kat

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  7. This episode left me vaguely unsettled. I watched it again to determine why, but I am still unsure. I thought parts of it were funny, but the overarching theme of who is crazy and who is not didn't really work for me.

    I did, however, really like the group discovering their shared affection for the Dean.

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