Thursday, April 3, 2014

REVIEW: 'Community' - Jeff Dreams Up an Animated Universe as He Struggles With His Age in 'G.I. Jeff'

NBC's Community - Episode 5.11 G.I. Jeff

The study group gets animated in the vein of the 1980s G.I. Joe series.

As someone who is basically half the age that Jeff becomes in "G.I. Jeff," I can't fully comprehend the parody of the episode to the extent that Jeff does or any one old enough to remember the 1980s cartoon. However, that doesn't dampen my enjoyment of this episode. It's a fun episode of Community that has just enough of an emotional story for me to understand why the show felt it was necessary to once again become animated.

Community concept episodes are hit or miss. For all the greatness we got from "Modern Warfare" and "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" - which gets a reference during this episode - there's also the fourth season finale. The key to finding success is to figure out a way to do the concept that stems from one of the characters. Usually that means Abed because his out-there thinking lends itself to these types of episodes well. And yet, I'm so glad this trip to animation wasn't something Abed created but instead something Jeff subconsciously built.

Jeff's age has always been a small bit of humor to the show. He's frequently paired with Annie or Britta even though he's closer in age to Shirley. Here, the idea is given some serious weight to it. He's turning 40 and is depressed about where he is in life right now. It's an emotional story entirely built for the purposes of this episode but I don't entirely mind. It gets a lot of humor from the parody - Jeff kills someone and that's a big no-no on the cartoon, the animation problems, etc. - while still being a weird but fun episode of Community.

Some more thoughts:
  • "G.I. Jeff" was written by Dino Stamatopoulos and directed by Rob Schrab.
  • This season of Community has been making a lot of callbacks to season two of Community, no?
  • I loved Shirley repeatedly telling us that she has three kids as well as the Greendale villains of Hickey, Duncan and Chang being easily defeated.
  • The biggest laugh came during Duncan's twin feeling his pain while waiting tables somewhere.