A review of the “Community” season one finale coming up just as soon as I find a loophole…
Last week’s “English as a Second Language” felt very much like a season finale, with the gang (and the show) figuring out how to stay together once they all finished their Spanish requirement. And as Abed repeatedly noted, “Pascal’s Triangle Revisited” also felt very much like a season finale, here with the return of all the notable recurring characters, Annie preparing to leave Greendale, Troy looking for a roommate and, most obviously, with Professor Slater and Britta competing for Jeff’s affections.
So why do what are essentially back-to-back finales? Maybe Dan Harmon, like Jeff with the two women, just couldn’t choose between two finale pitches. Or maybe he felt like a show that’s so self-aware about its place as a TV show couldn’t accommodate all of its finale ideas into just one episode.
But for once, I think all the self-awareness got in the way of the comedy, as “Pascal’s Triangle Revisited” didn’t really come together until the Tranny Dance began, with Dean Pelton’s dalmation/furry fetish, Britta and Slater ramping up the hostilities, Troy’s giant cookie (and love of the original jump-the-shark episode of “Happy Days”), the drunk Professor Duncan being a complete ass (and then getting decked by Senor Chang and his roll of quarters) and the dance hall dividing into Team Britta and Team Slater (and Starburns remaining firmly on Team Coco).
Or maybe it wasn’t the meta that got in the way earlier, but that I was so disheartened by the idea that “Community” would be building its first finale around the show’s weakest element: Jeff and Britta.
As I’ve written many times before, the writers did a good job of turning into the skid with Britta and making the aspects of the character that nobody liked into comic traits that the characters hated as well. And I enjoyed her post-apocalyptic quickie with Jeff in “Modern Warfare,” both because it suited the apocalyptic feel of that episode, because it was played as a one-time thing, and because the episode had been filled with meta-jokes about how little anyone cares about those two. So to see the show come back a few weeks later and expect us to invest in Britta suddenly realizing she has feelings for Jeff? That seemed a major miscalculation…
…until the show instead finally Went There and had Jeff and Annie – the two characters whose chemistry has been undeniable to everyone – kiss outside the Tranny Dance.
The genius of the Jeff/Annie thing is that it was clearly unplanned, or else Alison Brie might not have been asked to play an 18-year-old. But because she is, and because Joel McHale is playing close to his age and the two characters are at such opposite ends of the jaded-to-innocent spectrum, there is a lot of comic mileage to be had here, whether that kiss leads to more right away or not.
So good on “Community” for recognizing what was working and not trying to force what wasn’t, and I look forward to seeing where this goes next semester, even as I’m bummed that Abed will have to compete with Sheldon from “Big Bang Theory” and Brennan from “Bones” in this weird Undiagnosed Asperger’s Hour.
What did everybody else think?