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Community: Investigative Journalism

“A new semester. A new Jeff.”

New Jeff. New buddy. New...newspaper. Good news and bad news: SeƱor Chang can’t be killed, and characters can never really be rebooted, no matter what Abed says. The running joke in “Investigative Journalism” is the expected ratings-inspired reboot: many shows tweak something when they return from the winter hiatus, but Community is, like Hawkeye, better than that. In a way that they’re kinda winking at it, as Jack Black cleverly, meta-ly (not metallically, but in a meta- fashion) explained to us.

Jack Black is an obnoxious fat-but-agile guy, and he’s best in small doses. Luckily, this episode only runs 22 minutes, which is perhaps the perfect amount of time for his sing-songy brand of unfunny funniness. The punchline? Our study group was the safety pick, and Wilson Brother #1’s group, which includes Star Burns and Pigtailed Asian Girl, has picked Jack Black for their much cooler group.

The intrusion of Jack Black’s “puckish agent of change” gives the group a chance to reevaluate themselves as individuals and as members of the group. Jeff wants to change, and he spent most of last season pretending to change at the end of each episode, only to reset by the beginning of the next. As Community moves towards its second semester, I’m left wondering if Jeff can ever really change, constrained as he is by the rules of sitcom-character life. Perhaps Abed could explain how that works.

While Jeff may never change, the violent battle of “Comparative Religion” clearly brought the group closer together. They do have a natural rhythm, as well as a clearly defined sense of who belongs and who doesn’t. That may not be the loftiest of sentiments, but it’s more than they had when the show started.

Requisite mention of B-plot: Meanwhile, Jeff’s brief tenure as newspaper editor somehow leads to both beers and Annie’s ace-reporter shenanigans unmasking Toni Braxtongate and Greendale’s cellphone-plan-inspired racial profiling. Sadly, this story line did not feature any actual Toni Braxton, although it did have a lovely Dalmatian costume that I hope we’ll see again.

Mark Says...

Despite all the references to M*A*S*H, this episode made me think of another classic American sitcom, Saved by the Bell.

Part of this was because, like Jeff, I've never actually seen an entire episode of M*A*S*H. Or even the movie, for that matter. I'm familiar enough with it to know who Hawkeye, Hot Lips and Radar are and that it ran longer than the Korean War. But, no, I have never seen M*A*S*H. It was not a show you watched when I was young. Everyone watched Saved by the Bell. Well, maybe not everyone, but a lot of people. Some people. A few people. Maybe just me. But the point I'm trying to make is that there are many similarities between Saved by the Bell and Community.

Now, I know what you're thinking; whatever happened to the girl who played Lisa? And Mark is crazy. But am I? Yes, I am. But am I crazy about this? Think about it, Saved by the Bell centred around a charismatic slacker, a geeky sidekick, an all American girl next door, a crusading know it all, a cocky jock, the school gossip and an older guy. Sound familiar? Even Jeff's power over the group, able to control them with a simple gesture, has a certain Zach 'Time Out' Morris quality to it. And the plot of this episode - the one with Jeff taking over the school paper, not the one with Jack Black being annoying - could easily be an episode of Saved by the Bell.

So where am I going with all this? I honestly have no idea. I just thought it was a fun comparison. Hey, sometimes my mind just likes to wanders off in strange directions. Especially if those directions happen to lead to Tiffani Amber Thiessen.

Cool Cool Cool:

• Dean Pelton: “I have something better than exfoliating soap to rub on you.”

• Abed: “This character reboot is really working for you, Jeff.”

• Abed: “He might be a puckish agent of change who can change all our lives for the better.”

• Jeff: “Annie is pretty young. We try not to sexualize her.”

• Dean Pelton: “Racial profiling may not be right, but it can be economical.”

• Pierce: “I didn’t pick you as a decoy because your breasts are so old.”

• I loved the credits cutting into Jack Black’s speech about the “natural rhythm” of the group.

Three out of four Hawaiian shirts.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. Darn it !

    You 2 give me the envy of re watching the entire first season. But I'm only in the first 3rd of the second one of Lost, so I'll pass. I'm censoring the next sentence since it would be considered a spoiler for THIS show....but I'll get there when YOU get there.

    Mark :




    Annie and Britta in Cheerleaders outfits ? Nope, more censorship.

    Also, please note, business as usual at the office. That guy born in 1883, Franz Whatitsnameagain, would love it over there...

  2. I'm glad someone enjoyed that picture as much as I'd hoped!

  3. This was an episode of two parts for me. I am not even remotely a fan of Jack Black's as his sense of humor and mine are poles apart. I found myself tuning out quite a bit when he was on the screen.

    I am, however, a huge fan of M*A*S*H and loved all the homages to it, some more subtle than others. There is something oddly Hawkeye-esque about Jeff...


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