Thursday, April 10, 2014

REVIEW: 'Community' - The Study Group Saves Greendale Only for It to be Sold to Subway in 'Basic Story'

NBC's Community - Episode 5.12 Basic Story

As Subway makes plans to purchase the Greendale campus for their own Subway University, the study group contemplate the end of an era. Jeff considers a generous offer of employment from Subway. Britta considers an offer from Jeff. Dean Pelton tells Annie and Abed about Greendale's first dean, which leads to an interesting discovery in the walls of Greendale.

Greendale Community College thrives on chaos and crisis. The people who go there overreact to everything. Every little concern is blown way out of proportion. It's been hysterical throughout the show's run because of these characters. Seeing them evolve and become greater friends has given the show such a strong foundation that allows it to be as wacky as it frequently can be.

Greendale started the season on the brink of shutting down because of a lawsuit. Jeff returned to the school and formed the Save Greendale Committee with the rest of the study group plus Hickey, Chang and Duncan. Their work to fix the school hasn't been a predominate focus of the season. It usually led to a joke or two per episode before it found a much more interesting and wacky story to tell.

So now, we are coming to the end of the season and it appears that Jeff and the gang have made a big difference around campus. The first half of the episode is the show actively commenting on how it's not going to overact and go into crisis mode to drive story. It leads to some funny meta stuff with Abed. But it's also a great point of growth. Knowing that the group has made a difference to the school only makes it that much more disenchanting when the school board decides to sell the campus to Subway.

In some ways, "Basic Story" is simply just doing all the set up for next week's finale - which is clearly being set up as a potential series finale in case the show doesn't get renewed again. A story of what happens when these characters are in a familiar place or story but have changed. What will the impact of Greendale be to these characters if it's sold to Subway? Abed, Annie and the Dean are clinging on to the hope that it can be saved. They get a beacon of light in the concluding moments about a buried treasure that could save the school. Their celebratory dance was the funniest bit from the episode.

But more importantly, "Basic Story" focuses on the Jeff and Britta relationship. The show is coming full circle. In the early days, the show was all about Jeff trying to get with Britta. It broke away from that concept for the better and truly did wonders by developing both of them into fully formed and comedic characters instead of simply being boring relationship drama. In the years since, both have been in other relationships - with Annie and Troy, respectively. Jeff's marriage proposal here isn't played as some grand romantic gesture. Instead, it's simply a realization that something good has had to have come from their experience at Greendale. I fully expect everything to completely explode in the finale. But I'm not that irked by the return to the Jeff-Britta relationship here.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Basic Story" was written by Carol Kolb and directed by Jay Chandrasekhar.
  • Dean Pelton hit the intercom button by mistake but then just wanted to know if everyone was fine. Yes, they were.
  • Why haven't Hickey and Duncan gotten to sing together before this episode? That tag scene was pretty awesome.
  • I also really enjoyed Abed's impression of Shirley.