When I sat down to watch this week's episode of "Community" -- the first to air in 2012 -- I had high expectations. I was hoping for another "Remedial Chaos Theory" or at least a "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism". Instead, this episode -- "Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts" -- was probably more along the lines of a "The Psychology of Letting Go": a little more grounded, a little bit character building and overall quite average. Not bad, just... average.
The main story focused on Shirley and Andre's re-marriage, with three supporting stories:
- Pierce has been fired from Hawthorne Wipes, and tries to re-make himself as an entrepreneur (complete with Gordon Gekko look), so he tries to get Shirley to set up a sandwich shop in the school cafeteria.
- Britta and Jeff hate the whole idea of marriage and think Shirley shouldn't get remarried, which makes it hard for them to support her
- Troy and Abed don't want to ruin Shirley's wedding by being weird, so they "de-whismify" themselves and act normal (which, for them, comes off as even weirder).
The main problem with the episode, as far as I was concerned, was that I just don't care about Shirley and Andre. I'd honestly assumed they'd already just gotten remarried off screen (Shirley even makes reference to being a "married woman" in "Remedial Chaos Theory") and could've done without a wedding episode. The eventual plot path did serve to add significant depth to Andre's character, but I'm not sure a character who shows up a couple times a season really needed that depth. And while his Boyz II Men proposal was awesome, he didn't really do anything memorable for the rest of the episode.
The basics of the Britta and Jeff storyline have been done plenty of times before, but at least this week they were used to provide twists for each of the characters. Britta, as it turns out, is really good at weddings, much to her disgust. It goes against everything she stands for, but she thinks because she's so good at it, that it's in her DNA to become nothing more than a wife and a mother (which Shirley thankfully explains at the end is so not true). Jeff, meanwhile, has an emotional breakthrough after agonizing over a toast for Shirley, admitting that he hates marriage because his father left his mother. It was another solid character moment, but nothing we couldn't have already inferred.
I really wish the episode had spent more time exploring the Troy and Abed thing. A de-whimsied duo could have been used for a lot more than just the wedding scene. The little bit we got of it was great, but it felt like an idea that could've really been an "A" story for an episode, instead of a "B" or "C". Also, while the Pierce tag was funny, I really would've love a Troy & Abed in the morning tag. It would've felt right after all this time away.
All that said, an average episode of "Community" is better than the majority of what's on TV, and there were four solid laugh-out-loud moments for me in this one.
- When Britta started her wedding rant, Annie responded "you're anti-wedding now?" Jeff's response: "No, she's just pro-'anti'." PHENOMENAL.
- The visual gag of Jeff searching his heart. I'm gonna need someone to catalog all the images that came up. Annie was definitely in there more than once, as were Annie's boobs (and I don't mean the monkey).
- Annie's disgust at Jeff using "Webster's defines..." to begin his toast. This worked for me on two levels. First, it was a solid Jim Belushi dig. But secondly, I cannot STAND when someone uses that hackneyed lead to start something. It's terrible, and it's basically saying "I have no idea what to write to start this." If you sit down to write something, and you start with "Webster's defines...", just delete your entire first paragraph. It's likely that your second one is a re-introduction to the actual point you're trying to make, and it couldn't possibly suck any worse.
- Pierce's racist security camera. Easy joke. Funny.
Lastly, Dean Pelton telling Shirley that the board loved her sandwich shop idea, but they were putting in a Subway instead was a nice little twist there. I don't know if it was straight product placement, just a solid real-world mention or even a bit of a "tip of the cap/take that" directed at "Chuck", but the way Dean Pelton delivered the news was solid.