Community Review: Show Me on the Doll

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Perhaps, as the hand-puppet versions of the Greendale Seven sang tonight, we all just need a new experience to get out of our ruts sometimes. Even TV shows.

The Friendly Mountain Man

"Intro to Felt Surrogacy" was, hands-down, the funniest episode of Community Season 4, and could easily stand by some of the best episodes of the show's entire run. And even though its songs, puppet persons, Community quotes and guest shot from Jason Alexander were all beyond excellent, its success had a lot to do with the change of scenery.

Community has been slowed down this season by a lot of questions about what past elements of the series the new showrunners would like to keep, and what elements they would like to chuck. Some long-drawn out plot arcs (like Jeff's relationship with his dad) were settled almost hastily, in a few quick episodes; some tossed-off running gags (like Dean Pelton's various get-ups) have been given far more stage time than they deserve.

It's been a sometimes-exhausting balancing act, dealing with and paring down the show's vast mythology - and sometimes, it has resulted in uneven pacing and unclear character motivations. Life on campus had begun to feel a bit claustrophobic. So it makes sense that this season's best episodes - like this one, and the trip to Inspector Spacetime convention - have involved getting the gang out of Group Study Room F and into the wide world, where they can breathe a little more freely.

Though Community has tried on few different stylistic disguises before, including 8-bit video games and 70's-style claymation, nothing has suited them quite like life as Muppets-style singing puppets. Sure, the Muppets never ate psychotropic berries out of Jason Alexander's hand and then confessed all their most horrific secrets to each other, but maybe just because they never had the chance?

An unexpected bright spot was this episode's spotlight on Shirley. Through all four seasons, the show has never quite decided what to do with her, and, alongside Pierce, she is typically one of the least-developed characters. But Shirley's secret had real pathos, and Yvette Nicole Brown played it perfectly, cramming more feeling into a single story about leaving her kids at the supermarket than she's usually allowed to express all season, changing her character in my eyes from dead weight to an unexplored asset.

It's no secret that Community Season 4 has swung me back and forth, hand-puppet caught in a a wind storm...or something. But every time I'm ready to write the show off, something like "Intro to Felt Surrogacy" pops up to keep the faith alive. God bless you, you tiny, drug-addled puppets. You'll win my heart yet!

What did you think of the concept of a puppet episode? Did you dig the songs? Has Jason Alexander actually been living in the woods since Seinfeld? (It would explain a lot.)


Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.7 / 5.0 (87 Votes)

This episode was a lot more fun than any other this season, and the sort of unique episode that makes the show great. However, for some reason they couldn't commit to it. Wouldn't it had been so much better to stay with the puppets for 20mins, rather than keep cutting back to nothing? And there is no way the 'old' writers would have had them all be puppets just so they could sit around a camp fire and tell each other things they don't want to share, to make the audience see them as deeper characters. Like, is that it?! Limitless possibilities and they go for all sitting around talking?! Disappointing. But catchy songs. Im so torn.


All of the one-liners in this episode are instant classics. Troy's comment about Prof. Duncan being MIA had me rolling. Also the Dean's secret being cut off. One issue with the review though... Giving some kind of credit to the Inspector Spacetime episode was just uncalled for. Smh, horrible. I do understand that post-Harmon Community is an entirely different entity all together, so I'm slowly getting used to the change and learning to like it. At the end of he day though, even Community at it's worst is always going to be better than TBBT.


This was the worst episode EVER!
Your review was just as terrible!
They ran this show into the ground!


NBC ruined another perfectly good ahow by stifling creativity and making unwarrented changes like firing the show runner who created the show. The only thing this and every episode this season has proven is how much Dan Harmon's genius drove this show. I want so badly for this not to be true because this show had some of the most creative comic writing on TV but every week proves NBC's incompetence.


This was easily the best episode of season 4 so far, it was all like a weird, hilarious dream shared by the study group. Jason Alexander was great, as were those poor, drug-addled puppets.


This was possibly the worst episode they have done. Very sad as last week was hilarious.


Pretty bad episode! Shockingly bad actually. It's a shame.
Parks & Rec was a 1000 times better. Community lost it's magic.


Nobody even acknowledged/noticed the awesome sara bareilles cameo?


great start of doing characte's backstories.


Great episode! And awesome music from Ludwig!
Let's embrace season 4 for what it is, which is different but still our funny, lovable study group

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Community Season 4 Episode 9 Quotes

Who's holding? I have four berries, but I'm saving them for "Laser Floyd."


This awkward silence has been going on for days! Granted, Jeffrey looks amazing when he broods, but this has got to stop!