We’re getting another “Community” rerun tonight, and another one next week, but then the show leaves NBC’s schedule altogether for an indeterminate period of time. So until we find out when new episodes will be airing, it’s time for the latest installment in my series on why I’ll miss the show when it’s gone.
Other than knowing that I wanted to start the project with Troy crying, I had no particular roadmap going in of scenes, jokes or characters I wanted to highlight. So when I picked out last week’s clip of Britta mispronouncing “bagel,” it reminded me of another storyline from that same episode, in which Jeff ran into trouble with the Phys Ed teacher in charge of the billiards class. And that storyline climaxes in one of the funniest scenes the show has ever done.
Jeff’s in an interesting position on this show. He’s the straight man, the sane voice at an insane school, and the guy who points out the many ways in which the rest of the cast are going astray. But this is too absurd a show for him to be just the straight man. “Community” has no room for a wholly normal, level-headed character, and so Joel McHale has been thrust into that narrow window that past sitcom leading men like Dave Foley and Jason Bateman have occupied before him: the sane man who is secretly just as nuts as everyone around him.
Jeff Winger is cool, yes, but he works incredibly hard to be that cool, and we’ve seen from time to time that there’s a definite pathology at work here. Jeff needs to be cool. He’s been through some stuff in his past – including being bullied into pissing his pants by a certain foosball-playing girl with afro puffs – and it is very important to him that he now come across as awesome and above it all, even if he genuinely enjoys things like participating in the study group’s pop-and-lock tournament team.
The Jeff story in “Physical Education” is all about Jeff being called out for this attitude, and while ultimately the whole thing turns silly (and includes the inevitable homage to the most famous scene in “The Color of Money”), it’s a a reminder both that Jeff is as messed up as everyone else in the study group, and that Joel McHale can be go-for-broke funny just as much as any of his co-stars.
Also? He works out a little.
So enjoy, and talk about whatever you want, “Community”-wise, in the comments.