Wednesday, March 18, 2015

REVIEW: 'Community' - Pelton Enters a Virtual World & Britta Faces Her Parents in 'Lawnmower Maintenance & Postnatal Care'

Yahoo Screen's Community - Episode 6.02 "Lawnmower Maintenance & Postnatal Care"

Jeff and Frankie ask an inventor for help extracting Dean Pelton from his virtual reality world.

Even though there was the threat of normalcy and efficiency coming towards Greendale in the first episode of the season, "Lawnmower Maintenance and Postnatal Care" shows that the wacky elements of this place are always going to be apparent. There simply is no reason why Dean Pelton should be the dean of this school. That has always been the case across the entire length of the show. He wastes $5,000 in this episode in order to purchase one virtual reality program - and then he gets sucked into it himself. It's not the most innovative storytelling device that the show has done. But that's not the point either. The virtual reality that Pelton explores throughout this episode isn't suppose to be all that high tech. It's just suppose to showcase how easily he can be distracted by something shiny and new (or at least new to him and not the rest of the world).

Jeff and Frankie know that this piece of technology is a complete waste of money. And yet, they allowed the Dean to be a part of that virtual world for four hours. Sure, he was crazy almost immediately from seeing what this universe was like. But Jeff or Frankie could easily have disconnected him from that place. They didn't because on some level they do have to have some respect for this man. He's the one running the school and making sure that they both get paid. As much pleasure Jeff would have in beating up Pelton, it's always an empty threat on his part. He's never going to beat him up. He wants to but he never can. Instead he's trying to find a way to bring Pelton back to reality without harming him and his newfound love for technology and power.

That leads Jeff on a quest to find the man who created this technology, Elroy Patashnik (Keith David). Now, Elroy is going to become an important part of the show this season. So this episode largely serves as an introduction for him. His part of the story is just told through hilarity happening to the other characters though. That's a good place to start. And yet, we know next to nothing about his personality. We know he has clung onto the idea of virtual reality technology and is living in a winnebago. But what else is there to him (besides David's wonderful voice making most things he says funny)? Pelton thanks him for rescuing him from the virtual world with $500 which he then uses to enroll at Greendale. However, that scene largely showcases how well Pelton can actually do his job. Elroy is there with the rest of the gang upon episode's end but we still don't know a whole lot about him.

Elsewhere, Britta is moving into Abed and Annie's apartment because it was alluded to that she was homeless in the premiere. And now, she's not so we don't have to linger too long on the potential dangers of that plot beat. But something new is also introduced in this episode - her lingering issues with her parents, George and Deb Perry (played by Martin Mull and Lesley Ann Warren). They live in the same town as her and yet she wants to be as far away from them as possible. For years, Britta has been holding onto the pain of the past and letting that be the only thing that defines her relationship with her parents. Except now, both she and her parents are different people. That's a strange concept for her to deal with. The rest of gang have interacted with Britta's parents for years now and have only seen them as kind and loving people. That infuriates Britta that her friends would go behind her back for people she is always resentful and angry at. Despite that though, Britta is desperately holding onto her truth that her parents are still the same people they were when she was a teenager. She doesn't want to believe that they are capable of change.

It's up to Frankie to point out some reality for Britta. I kinda enjoy that Frankie's purpose in these first two episodes is to bring a bit of reality back to the lives of the main characters. The wacky parts of the show are always going to be a part of the show. But the characters need to evolve and deal with emotional problems as they mature. The idea that they are all going to be stuck at Greendale for the rest of their lives is such a lackluster way to keep everything the same. Things aren't the same. The show needs to evolve around the changes it is experiencing this season. I'm not sure the characters are really passionate about anything at all this year. They aren't going anywhere and that could become a bigger problem the deeper into the season we go. But right now, it is manageable.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Lawnmower Maintenance & Postnatal Care" was written by Alex Rubens and directed by Jim Rash & Nat Faxon.
  • This was actually a really good episode for both Jim Rash and Gillian Jacobs. I laughed every time Pelton started saying "Jesus wept."
  • So, Britta's cat was introduced in the very first scene and then was never referenced again. It's whole existence seemed only to give Chang something to do for the entire episode - which was a joke that never worked at all and was only more annoying the more he popped up.
  • It was just great seeing Pelton take immense pleasure out of being able to set the time and delete the serial number file in the virtual world.
  • I love that Abed was so concerned over what happened to the bike that Britta stole from a young neighborhood kid. Also, did that kid get to keep all the money her parents gave him.
  • That parody of Gremlins sure was something. I'm hoping not all the tag sequences this season are just parodies though.