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Community: Beginner Pottery

“No Ghosting!”

... in which Jeff is forced to work through his childish issues of extraordinary specialness and—for some reason—turns to Pierce for fatherly advice. Meanwhile, Shirley sacrifices the deadweight. Because kind people are always kind, even if they get stepped on, but strong people change. And Shirley is like the sea. But less unforgiving, like an admiral who deserves an A. This metaphor is getting confusing.

This might be a perfect episode. Two completely over-the-top jokes: a pottery class that forces Jeff to confront his perfectionism, and a sailing class that teachers the power of teamwork and community. But each line is character-perfect, and each joke is set up beautifully, from the now-famous “no Ghosting!” to the bizarre imaginary maternal voiceovers.

Professor Holly the Potter (aka Buster from Arrested Development) runs a straightforward classroom: participation nets an art credit, walking in the hall near the pottery room earns a contact credit. But there is one rule: under no condition, and in no variation, may students act out the pottery scene from Ghost. Humming that song will also result in expulsion.

Of course, once a rule like that is in place, it must be violated. Jeff’s increasing obsession with Dr. Rich and his perfect pots leads to a climatic confrontation that, as Abed helpfully explains, qualifies as a Ghosting. Category: Man-on-man. Subcategory: Hilarious. What leads Jeff there? A softly-lit memory of his mother telling him he is special. His desire to live up to that childhood pressure makes him develop a severe case of Goldblumitis, in which his shoulders crop up towards his ears under a stuffy cardigan, and he chuckles like a wild-eyed crazy man.

All of that doesn’t really need yet another punchline, does it? But there is one: early in the episode, Abed had provided a voiceover for Jeff’s state of mind. That voiceover-trope was repeated with the flashback to Jeff’s mom telling him he was special. And that voiceover was trumped by a flashback to Jeff’s mom telling him he was going to be good at some things, bad at others, and accepting that is the path to a happy life.

Turns out that both those flashbacks were just imaginary, as Jeff acknowledged. Was Rich’s mother’s voice, which told him he wasn’t good enough and should have died on a roller coaster instead of his brother, also imaginary? Does it matter? We know that Dr. Perfect is flawed, and we exult. Jeff, luckily, doesn’t even need to know that his nemesis has a dark past. He’s better than that now, having pushed through the Goldblum to achieve serenity about his own imperfections. While the last “ultimate blow-off class” that Jeff chose attempted to force him to live in the moment, this one actually achieved that goal. Jeff has found himself through art shaped like a vase.

Meanwhile, Captain Shirley, Britta, Troy, Pierce, and Starburns have decided to take the shortest sailing class in the catalog: it appears to last about three (very stormy) days. Shirley began the episode feeling stepped-on because she had to take the bus to work since her ex-husband borrowed the mini-van to visit his new stripper girlfriend. (She is a better woman than I am.) Given the power of a captain, forced to make difficult choices, she decides to abandon Pierce to the deep blue parking lot of death. And given the opportunity—in the form of Pierce almost drowning in a makeshift raft—to rethink her cruel strength, she finds power in kindness and rescues the castaway. Because captains might be cruel, but it takes an admiral to know when to be kind.

Both plots are separate, but they converge once, as Pierce and Jeff are forced to confront their inadequacy. Jeff goes to Pierce to reveal his self-conscious realization that he is a terrible potter, and Pierce explains that he is incompetent at everything, including the simple act of being born. In “Basic Genealogy,” Pierce and Jeff developed an ad hoc father/son bon, and that continues here: Jeff needs basic life advice; Pierce needs a son. Awkward as it may be, their burgeoning relationship is sweet, and helps both characters develop into something resembling grown-ups.

Mark Says...

This episode featured two new additions to Greendale's increasing collection of bizarre teachers—Buster Bluth and the Six Million Dollar Man. Although these men taught very different classes, they both inspired me in a profound way. Which is why I now have this hanging from my wall:


God, I hate that song. Especially the Garth Gates version. True horror.

There are times I wonder about the back stories of the teachers at Greendale. What tragedy eventually led them to take up employment at Greendale Community College? You have to be slightly crazy to go to Greendale, but you have to been even crazier to actually work there. In fact, Prof. Slater seems to be the only reasonably normal member of the school faculty. Which has only made me more convinced that she has seem deep dark secret. No one that competent, or good looking, would work at a place like Greendale unless they were hiding something terrible.

I have no idea why I seem to be obsessed with Jeff's ex. Maybe it is because I'm actually struggled to come up with something substantial (or even irrelevant) to say about this episode. I mean it, I struggled with a few days on and this is the best I could come up with. And even that required some padding out.

Cool Cool Cool:

• Jeff: “This class is like a redhead that drinks Scotch and watches Die Hard.”

• Troy: “Pierce is going to be the only person ever to drown in a parking lot.”

• Jeff: “Look, I don’t care. I just care that he cares.”

• Abed: “Jeff, you’re Goldblumming.”

• I saw Jeff Goldblum at my Starbucks a few weeks ago. He drives a Prius. Living in Hollywood is neat-o.

Four out of four precious blueberries.

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

7 comments:

  1. ahhhhhh

    The pottery class' ep...If you have the DVD set, I particularly enjoy the outtakes for this episode. But since this is a respectable blog, I'll be.....laconic LMAO.

    Cool cool cool indeed for Mister Goldblum. I could give you my list my list of actresses to kiss but then, you'd hate me...

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  2. I'm streaming these episodes, so I haven't seen any special features. Is it worth the tiny bit of extra effort?

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  3. I'm a guy, so yes. Enough said.

    But Danny Pudi's laugh is priceless.

    (warning, Mister McHale is a bit.....vulgar...)

    LOL during the episodes, but LMAO during the outtakes.

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  4. Also, since "they" say that laughter is the best medicine, watching all the massive amount of outtakes of BOTH the DVD sets is a must.

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  5. Jeff Goldblum!? All I ever get is Fritz Coleman. Grumble. Also, I took a pottery class once for an easy A. It ended up being the hardest B I ever earned.

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  6. Like sunbunny, this episode hits a bit close to home for me as well. I hated art classes.

    I do, however, love to sail and laughed out loud at the bastardization of the sailing lingo. Either someone writing this episode knows exactly what to say, or that someone was unintentionally hilarious. Either way, it worked.

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  7. Third re watch of the evening. Classic.

    SOB !!! I heard a fly during Jeff's Goldblumitis !!! WHOAH !

    ReplyDelete

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