Review: ‘Community’ – ‘VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing’

A quick review of tonight's “Community” coming up just as soon as I move inland where lumber is more plentiful…

I did a long interview with Dan Harmon the other day about both “Community” and “Rick & Morty” that I hope to publish sometime soon (though the transcript will be book-length), and at one point I asked about this season's shift away from putting Jim Rash into dresses and other funny costumes. Harmon laughed, noting that this week's episode would in fact open with the Dean in a funny costume, and that it would then involve Rash doing perhaps the funniest thing he's ever done on the show before. Considering the Dean's reaction to Jeff in aviators, this seemed a rather high bar to clear. But Pelton's freestyle rap apology about the delayed payday – while dressed as a Payday bar – at a minimum came awfully close, especially given the Dean's terrified reaction at the close of it. (“I don't know what that was! I DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT WAS!”)

The rest of “VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing” was more of a mixed bag. After the dystopian apocalypse caused by MeowMeowBeanz, I appreciated the show dialing things back to a smaller scale – or as small as the scale can be when the majority of the cast is getting mixed up in an extended homage to “A Simple Plan” and every other movie ever made about criminals turning on each other over a huge score – but it was an episode that was for the most part neither fish nor fowl: not a ton of laughs (outside of Vince Gilligan's enthusiastic cameo as the host of the baffling interactive VCR game) but also not emotional stakes on the level of the Jeff/Duncan/Britta outing from a few weeks ago. The show continues to acknowledge the void that Troy left for Abed, and now adds Annie to the mix, and the textbook story followed up on MeowMeowBeanz in terms of showing how Shirley can be the most ruthless and formidable member of the group if she's pushed far enough. (Though I am still working out the logistics of her getting the drop on ex-cop Buzz.)

I liked the running gag of Annie's brother being her polar opposite (gigantic, unkempt and taciturn), and Brie Larson remains delightful as Rachel, where you can understand why she would be with Abed, even as she also sells you on her understandable concern with the guy. Not a bad episode, but one that ultimately felt more muddled than it could have been.

And yet… Dean Pelton's rap.

What did everybody else think?