by Thom Yee

Community images courtesy of Sony Pictures Television.

Community images courtesy of Sony Pictures Television.

6×05: “Laws of Robotics and Party Rights

It was this time last year (and on real, broadcast TV) that we lost Troy in one of the most moving and insightful episodes in Community’s history. Honestly, and as my previous reviews can attest, I loved that first batch of Community season five episodes that represented creator Dan Harmon’s return. Balancing a rebooting of the series and dealing with what was left from season four, in particular Pierce’s Greendale retirement and Troy’s impending departure, they were bursting with the same kind of boundless energy that defined the show at its best and they would give us latter-day favourites like “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics”, one of the series’ best concept episodes and one that gifted pop culture with the Ass Crack Bandit. The show would soon fall off from such great heights with its following episodes, but it was still pretty good throughout the remainder of the season. I for one can’t imagine a world without Meow Meow Beenz or having never seen Sean Connery’s Zardoz.

So far I don’t feel anywhere near the same about season six.

“Laws of Robotics and Party Rights” begins with Frankie’s latest attempt to bring some much-needed cash into Greendale’s coffers with a plan to allow convicted felons to attend classes remotely via telepresence robots. Meanwhile, Britta’s scheme to throw a post-mid-terms party backfires when she unwittingly unleashes the beast that is Abed making another movie.

I was bored with this week’s Community, which, in my mind, is one of the worst things I could possibly say about it. Jeff’s story deals with a newcomer to his class in the form of Willy, a charismatic inmate who quickly turns Jeff’s Pre-Law class against him. For the first time in a while we get to see what a class taught by Jeff Winger is like, and it turns out to be exactly the kind of outright denial of teaching and Planet Earth videos that we all assumed it would be, bringing nothing new or revealing to the table. We’ve also already seen what happens when a newcomer supplants Jeff as the cool guy, and Willy’s just another in the line of temporary characters who are eventually either revealed for who they really are (as in this episode) or are just written out because there’s never room for more than one alpha. We’ve been with these characters and this show for too long for these kinds of storylines to fly, and though it was nice to hear Jeff’s admission that he doesn’t hate Greendale, that much should be obvious by the fact that he’s still there.

Y'know, taken out of context, this Annie-Britta hug is pretty erotic.

Y’know, taken out of context, this Annie-Britta hug is pretty erotic.

Britta’s story fares a little better and, of the two plots, comes closest to brushing up against what makes Community what it is, but it still rings a little hollow. By overriding Annie’s rule that in-house parties are not to exceed eight people by framing it as a movie for Abed to shoot, Britta achieves only a temporary victory that winds up bringing out the worst in Abed. Annie and Britta’s interactions felt right in terms of bringing the two closer and exploring the group’s resignation when it comes to Abed, although the episode does allow Abed to continue to be the same robot-type semi-human that I’ve disliked this season. The party also got me thinking about how sorely lacking season six has been in terms of recurring characters. I mean, it’s a party, and a rager, and Magnitude’s nowhere to be seen? No Star-Burns? We know he’s still alive. Abed didn’t invite Rachel, who’s probably lost for this series as Brie Larson gradually gets picked up for bigger and bigger roles? And y’know who I’ve missed for a long time? Doc Potterywood. I don’t even see that actor in commercials anymore.

The biggest problem with Community right now is that it’s rudderless. It’s starting to feel like its primary stories have all already been told as it becomes a show that labours for a reason for being. Maybe the most damning thing I can say about it came during the episode’s tag when Abed takes over all the telepresence robots and confirms the collective Abed plan for world domination. His chants of “eradicate”? Reminded me of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. Truly terrifying.

Community Laws of Robotics and Party Rights” final score:  6


Items of Note:

  • Jeff: “Did you just try to murder me? Are you trying to murder me? You’re trying as hard as you can right now to kill me. Okay, well, uh… I guess I’ll see you in class tomorrow… guy who tried to murder me.”
  • Since when does Jeff park in a designated parking spot instead of wherever’s easiest?
  • And since when has Greendale had a proper, multi-floor parking compound?
  • Why was the bolt on the outside of Annie’s door?

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