‘Community’: Do all dogs go to college?

Review: ‘Community’ Season 6 Ep. 3

Jacob Judd, Staff member

When a series like “Community” becomes famous for gimmick episodes and high-concept, high-production-value parodies, it’s easy for people to forget that the bread and butter of the show is situational comedy with sharp writing and nuanced performances.

This latest episode probably won’t go on a best-of compilation DVD: It’s straightforward, no major character development happens and there’s no flashy format gimmick as in “Remedial Chaos Theory” or the all-too-famous “Paintball” episodes. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a thoroughly entertaining 30 minutes of television.

When Annie is warned of an imminent attack ad sponsored by competitor City College, the Greendale Seven gather in the situation (study) room to find some answers. The question: Did Greendale Community College, in fact, give a bachelor’s degree to a dog?

Jeff and Frankie want to bury this claim regardless of it’s validity, but Annie believes the spirit of honesty and responsibility are more important to the school’s integrity than whether or not the claim is factually correct. Abed’s just there to make the counter ad; his finished product is admittedly hilarious.

The episode works as a satire of political advertising, but on a deeper level, it’s really a meditation on the nature of honesty. What makes something true? It’s factuality or the honesty of the statement’s intent? And if defending a college that gave a degree to a dog meant keeping your job and losing your integrity, would that be worth it?

By choosing to write a relatively simple episode, the focus is on the characters and performance. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Jim Rash has brought new depth to the flamboyant Dean Pelton, but he’s certainly found new colors to his comedic timing. By stripping the Dean of his flashy costumes and broad physical comedy, Rash has delivered one of his most relatable yet hilarious performances to date. He steals this entire episode.

We also get to explore our new characters in greater detail. We learn about Elroy’s younger days and his surprisingly eclectic tastes. And Paget Brewster quickly carves out Frankie as one of the show’s most austere, yet simultaneously likable characters. I can easily see myself getting as attached to her as I ever was to Troy or Shirley.

This episode felt like a return to the first season’s more humble scale, with the benefit of a cast that know their characters in a much more intimate way.