‘Community’ – ‘Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy’: War crime and punishment

Senior Television Writer
03.18.11 86 Comments


A review of last night’s “Community” – and in case you missed yesterday’s news, the show has been renewed for next season – coming up just as soon as I make a pregnant woman run…

“I tend to ruin stuff.” -Britta

The “Custody Law” half of this episode with Jeff, Shirley, Chang and Andre was pretty uneven, but I kind of loved the “Eastern European Diplomacy” story with Britta, Troy, Abed and their friend Luka(*).

(*) Shirley’s spent a lot of time on the sidelines lately; this week it was Pierce and Annie, who I don’t think appeared outside of the teaser and the tag. Always a tricky balance on an ensemble with 8 regular castmembers and a lot of prominent recurring characters.

We’ve talked a lot about the evolution of Britta from unintentionally insufferable do-gooder to a character whose insufferability was the whole joke. There are times, in fact, where it feels like the study group actually hates Britta more than Pierce, because they don’t expect anything better from him, where she shouldn’t be as big a pain as she is. It’s been a fascinating, at times hilarious 180 for the character, and a reminder that few characters are completely un-fixable.

What I liked about the Britta story this week was how it turned that expectation on its head. Troy, Abed and the audience are all so used to Britta being the holier-than-thou buzzkill that it takes a while to realize she really is doing the right thing with Luka (well-played by “Dollhouse” alum Enver Gjokaj). The problem is that she’s been The Girl Who Cried Political Correctness for so long that nobody wants to believe her, and Troy and Abed’s various reactions of disgust to her were marvelous. (I loved Troy’s protest moan when Luka suggested that Britta was their girlfriend.) A simple story – albeit with room for running gags like Kick-Puncher and meta-humor like Abed’s “It’s all downhill from here” paintball sweatshirt – but an effective one.

While Britta shows that most characters are fixable, Chang is an example of a one who’s tricky to use completely effectively. When Ken Jeong is just asked to come in, be briefly weird, and leave, Chang is a tremendous asset to the series. But he’s such an insane cartoon character that the show often runs into trouble when it features him extensively, and/or when it asks us to take him as seriously as we do, say, Annie. A more buttoned-down Chang can work, as it did in the episode where he moved in with Jeff, but I think this story was trying to have it both ways – to make us sympathize with Chang even as it was inviting us to laugh at his lunacy – and that’s not a great approach for him. (Though I did love him dubbing the bald cop “Officer Baby.”)

What did everybody else think?

(Please note: We’re having some issues with our commenting system at the moment, so I apologize if your comments don’t seem to go through. Many times, it won’t seem like they’ve published, but then they’ll appear minutes later. Other times, not at all. Apologies, and we appreciate your patience as we work the problem.)

Around The Web