There may be no cinematic genre that’s been deconstructed and satirized more thoroughly and effectively than the buddy-cop flick: the mismatched partners, the stylized chase scenes, the unconventional methods that just may pay off. (Cop Out may think it’s being meta, but Hot Fuzz should remain the final word on the subject, Anglo slant and all.) Yet this won’t stop Community, which knows that Abed has a way with even the most picked-over clichés.
It’s March 31, and the dean, fretting over potential April Fool’s mayhem, deputizes Annie and Shirley to help with security. But which one of them gets to play the bad cop, and which is the by-the-book straight arrow? They both want to be bad — Annie to break out of her girl-scout image and Shirley to be known as more than a Christian housewife. Mayhem does indeed break out when Britta’s slapstick attempt to place a frog wearing a tiny Señor Chang sombrero on the frog-hating Spanish teacher’s desk results in a cadaver named Harry getting tossed out of a window into the quad — she’s desperate to prove to the gang that she’s not a buzzkill, and instead reveals herself to be Inspector Clouseau.
Jeff Winger (we’ve covered that this is the name of Bill Murray’s character from Stripes, right? Sorry, we’re the substitute teacher this week) knows it was Britta who caused the mess and threatens to turn her in. She panics and frames Jeff by phoning in a tip and planting tiny sombreros in his backpack. Annie and Shirley give chase in their golf cart, only to cause $78 worth of damage and let Jeff get away. The dean starts chewing out his security team, but Abed, observing while munching popcorn because his cable’s out, points out that he’s doing it all wrong, so he takes over and provides a spot-on gruff-black-sergeant-who’s-had-it-up-to-here-with-your-maverick-ways speech, stripping the deputies of their badges and windbreakers. Original? Hardly. But coming out of Danny Pudi’s mouth, it’s a virtuoso performance.
In the other plotline, Pierce is awaiting ascension to level six in his quasi-Buddhist cult, and Jeff honors him by arranging for him to be decked out like the Cookie Crisp wizard all day. A simple prank, but an effective one. And while it’s fine watching Chevy Chase in full buffoon mode, the biggest laugh in the episode comes from him spilling all over himself while attempting to sip from a water bottle, like a regular Gerald Ford. Low concept, to be sure, but for all the immersion and reveling in pop-culture touchstones and genre tropes, let’s not forget the simple pleasures. It’s why he’s Chevy Chase and we’re not.