Community Review: We Need to Talk About Kevin
A wise man once said, "It's easy to make a good German joke, but hard to make a great German joke."
Okay, that wise man was me.
"Alternative History of the German Invasion" provided many good German jokes, but no great German joke (and, incidentally, one great Slobodan Milosevic joke), but really, the episode seemed to be a meta-statement on the show's changes this season.
Now, I'm not going to sit here and tell you that techno music and punctuality are not hilarious. That's because I'm not in the business of being a liar. Jeff in particular got in a few great Community quotes, zinging the men from the land of Fahrvergnugen (great, now I'm doing it).
But Carl and co., the German exchange students who occupied Group Study Room F on tonight's episode, were lazily crafted characters. They did, however, deliver their lines with a freshness and vitality that would lead you to believe that these were not basically the same German jokes that have been kicking around since "Sprockets," and for that, I salute the actors.
The German joke is well-trodden comedic territory - much like the science fiction convention. But whereas last week's "Conventions of Space and Time" used our familiarity with that well-worn set up to illuminate some emotional truths about the gang, these German quips were pretty much just there to remind you how funny techno and sausage and dirndls are.
Which, I mean, they are. I'm not gonna fight that. But the jokes were a little too grounded in those standard stereotypes - rather than about humor about standard stereotypes - to really bowl me over.
But while I found the Geromedy (a new word that I just invented to combine "German" and "comedy," which I will never use again) lacking, the show's real premise - revealed only mid-way through the episode, when a group of students storm Group Study Room F to protest the gang's monopoly on it - was quite intriguing.
I'm trying not to take my thoughts on "new Community is a commentary on old Community" into full-blown, tinfoil-hat-wearing, conspiracy theory territory. But it was a little hard not to read the episode's object lesson that good guys and bad guys are often the same guys viewed from different angles in the context of the show's recent history. I mean, a group of people who were cloistered off in their self-satisfaction dome, completely ignoring the needs of others, now engaging with the larger...community - and being the better for it?
And viewing it from that angle, this episode was ultimately one of the good guys. I'm still on board with Community Season 4 and I'm still eager to see how the show's accessibility makeover pans out.
And, of course, we can't end a discussion of this episode without a discussion of "amdeansia."
The changnesia was a smart move to re-set a character who had reached the limits of his, uh, character - though I am almost completely positive that "Kevin" is just phase one of another Chang scheme that's going to end with another child militia or monkey gas or a keytar or something, it was a needed maneuver to dial back Chang's mania. Chang's mania is one of the show's greatest weapons, but it works best and feels freshest when doled out in moderate (and occasionally keytar-filled) doses. I'm chang-cited to see how this plot thread develops.
Do you think Chang's faking it? Do you think the other students at Greendale have hated the gang the whole time (you do have to admit, it would make a lot of sense)? Are you subscribing to the Troy and Abed Podcast?