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Saturday, March 28, 2015

COMMUNITY Finds "Decorum" in a "Crisis"

Article originally published as TV Review: 'Community' - "Basic Crisis Room Decorum" on Blogcritics.



TV Review: ‘Community’ – “Basic Crisis Room Decorum”

It’s not unexpected that Greendale is accused of granting a dog a diploma on this week’s episode of Community, “Basic Crisis Room Decorum.” It’s only surprising that it’s taken this long. The community college not known for its standards is accused by its rival, City College, of graduating a canine, and the Save Greendale committee must scramble to minimize the impact.

The new Save Greendale group is really coming together. Elroy (Keith David) wanders into the mess when Britta (Gillian Jacobs) runs by his trailer sans pants, and slowly begins to understand them. The Dean (Jim Rash) is more interested in flirting with Jeff (Joel McHale) than admitting his mistakes, but he can still be helpful, if bringing olives is helpful. Even Vicki (Danielle Kaplowitz) and Dave (Darsan Solomon) assist, though they know they aren’t really part of the club, and will barely get to say anything. OK, so Jeff, Annie (Alison Brie), and Frankie (Paget Brewster) are really coming together.

C3The alpha females are finally clicking. Frankie is the first one Annie calls with the news, and the two seem to have developed a mutually-respectful working relationship. “Basic Crisis Room Decorum” tests that bond when Frankie wants to get Greendale off on a technicality, which goes against Annie’s high moral standards. Annie almost transfer schools in protest. But at the end of the day, they find a way to work together, which is heartening.

Chang (Ken Jeong) remains a bit of an outsider. He isn’t invited, which is kind of a jerk move, considering how long he’s been part of the group. He isn’t getting much of his own stories, either. While Chang isn’t always the best character, I do think he’s earned a little more than “Basic Crisis Room Decorum” and the previous two episodes this year give him.

“Basic Crisis Room Decorum” is a great illustration of Community in general. It is funny, such as when viewers discover that Jeff gave The Dean a false cell phone number and The Dean has been texting a teenager in Japan for some time. But it also has a lot of heart. Abed (Danny Pudi), Jeff, and the others might be willing to deny the truth, but Annie will not, and they care about her hapiness. Thus, they devise a way to make a commercial supporting Greendale that also lives up to Annie’s standards. This sweet / humorous combination is why Community has so much emotional heft, and why it earns so many loyal fans.

C2The other component that makes the show successful is its weirdness. In season six, the weird comes in little tidbits, rather than devoting a full installment to it, at least so far. While the past may have seen paintball wars and pillow fights, this year Britta has a trippy hallucination mid-episode in “Basic Crisis Room Decorum.” It may be that an entire half hour in a dreamscape won’t fit into the more somber tone Community has taken on in its later years. But by including these bits piecemeal, at least the writers still give fans of the weird what they want.

I don’t have any specific complaints about “Basic Crisis Room Decorum,” which is a very enjoyable episode, but I do have complaints about its presentation. As thrilled as I am that Yahoo! Screen revived Community from cancellation to help fulfill its #sixseasonsandamovie prophecy, I wish the platform had worked its bugs out before launch. The video feed stutters constantly this week on a connection I know is stable and fast, tested before and during streaming.

Tuesday night, the day the episode premiered, it was completely unwatchable, and Wednesday was still tough. Add to that, the player inexplicably switched back to an earlier episode halfway through, and in trying to get back, I had to watch three full batches of commercials (twelve total ads) in a row. It’s worth it to endure these issues to get fresh Community, but it does make the viewing experience a hardship to endure. #FirstWorldProblems

New episodes of Community are available every Tuesday on Yahoo! Screen.

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