‘Community’: I’m nobody’s fourth Ghostbuster

Review: Season 6, Episode 5

Jacob Judd, Staff member

“Community” marks time this week with an affable, if unremarkable, episode. There are some laughs to be had for sure, but they don’t come as frequently or as strongly as usual. “Mr. Winger, when did you stop being funny?” asks one student. When, indeed?

This week’s attempt to keep Greendale afloat leads Frankie and the dean to enroll prison inmates via iPads attached to remote-controlled Segways.

These men appear sincere in their desire to reform and quickly ingratiate themselves to their fellow students. But when one of these new enrollments takes issue with Jeff’s teaching style, the conflict escalates and drives a wedge between Jeff and the dean.

It seems that the very dishonesty and personal manipulation that made Jeff successful throughout the series has finally come back to haunt him.

A more domestic conflict makes up this episode’s B-story. When Britta’s plans for a party are scuttled by her roommate Annie, she manipulates Abed into filming a party-themed movie in their apartment.

She comes to regret this, however, when Abed’s perfectionism drives him to keep the party going for days. Exhausted, embarrassed and humbled, Britta turns to Annie who helps her see that the only way to end Abed’s spree is to be honest about why it started in the first place.

Honesty makes up the theme of the episode. As Jeff’s fallen out of favor with the dean, the only way to earn back his place at the school is to come clean about his motivations and be honest with the dean.

Dishonesty too, is the downfall of Willy, the hardened criminal who’d been harassing Jeff. Once it becomes common knowledge that he exaggerated his violent reputation, he no longer curries the same favor with the dean or the students.

The tone this week is oddly sobering at times. In particular, the scene where Willy and Jeff first come into conflict. Jeff’s tantrum about escaping his lower-class roots feels honest, but it’s also weirdly dark for this show. Similarly, Willy’s admission that he’s a murderer feels unsettling and decidedly not funny.

The episode toys with going to darker places, which is admirable, but it never fully commits to these situations. As a result, the episode feels confused and, at times, downright unfunny.

Elroy has some great bits this week with some subtle yet subversive gags about race relations. MVP this week goes to Abed. He gets the single best joke at the expense of “Family Guy,” his Jerry Seinfeld impression is on point, and he threatens to take over the world via an iPad-Segway army. Hopefully next week brings us something truly spectacular.