A review of tonight's "Community" coming up just as soon as I use an older, British form of Facebook called Mugscroll...
If last week's episodes were about rebuilding the foundation of "Community" by focusing on the characters and the nature of Greendale itself, "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics" was "Community" back in high-concept mode, as an homage to serial killer thrillers like "Zodiac." As a parody of those kinds of movies, I thought it worked very well: the idea of Greendale being terrorized by the Ass Crack Bandit was inherently funny, and as usual, the show under Harmon does a very strong job of capturing the look, feel and structure of whatever it happens to be spoofing, in this case nailing various David Fincher-isms. Troy as the ACB's shattered victim played to Donald Glover's specific physical comedy gifts, and I loved the Dean snapping in frustration at his assistant as a play on the de rigeur scene in these movies where the cops try to trace a phone call, long after it was clear she was not going to respond.
The best "Community" parody episodes, though, function both as loving tribute to a particular genre and as a character study of one or more members of the study group. (The chicken fingers and "My Dinner with Andre" episodes, for instance, both examined how differently Jeff and Abed see the world while still trying to be friends.) This one was designed to check in on the state of Jeff and Annie's attraction to one another, and it was less successful on that front. Even before the end of the first Harmon era, it felt like the show had used up whatever was interesting about that dynamic and started moving Annie into other directions. And the Port/Guarascio season killed whatever remaining interest I had in them getting their flirt on. One of the reasons "Introduction to Teaching" worked so well was that it was a Jeff/Annie episode that had absolutely nothing to do with sexual tension between them. This story was at least an acknowledgment that they've been playing these games for too long, to the annoyance of everyone, but I don't know that we needed it at this point, especially given only 13 episodes of what could be the final season.
There was also a major character moment here with the news of Pierce's death, which will be dealt with a lot more next week. (The episodes were filmed out of order due to John Oliver's availability.) I'm glad Harmon and Chase were able to work out one final appearance for him before bumping off Pierce, and introducing his death here lent some gravity to all the silliness between Jeff, Annie and the Ass Crack Bandit, whomever he or she may be.
What did everybody else think? Happy to have both Professor Duncan and Starburns back? Would you rather the show had just kept Pierce alive but banished from Greendale? Do you hope to see more of Professor Ben Folds in the future? Do you wish Glover was getting more to do in his short time left on the series, or will this make the transition easier? And are you, like me, tired of Jeff and Annie as a non-couple who act like a couple?