Well, it certainly seemed like everyone involved with “The Art of Discourse” had a super-fun time making it. Don’t you think? There was pantsing, guitar-smashing, “duh” battles, togas, and a massive food fight! It’s not hard to imagine the blast the entire cast and crew must have had during filming. We’re sure there is blooper-reel footage for days. Of course, it’s also hard not to be a little resentful when imagining all those chuckly good times because we’re the ones who had to watch it afterward. In a word: ugh.
If last week’s exceptional “Contemporary American Poultry” was the zenith of a generally strong, if patchy first season, the Sir Edmund Hillary making an extended Goodfellas joke on the top of Mount Everest, if you will, then this week’s episode, just seven short days later, was kind of like Sir Edmund Hillary slipping on a patch of poorly written ice and prat-falling down the other side. Wearing a Discman. Oh, and with Lisa Rinna as the Sherpa. Things were bleak from the get-go with an over reliance on groan-inducing lines that were supposed to be funny precisely because of how lame they were. This is a slippery comedy slope (almost as slippery as the other side of our fictional Mount Everest!) with pretty limited returns. How do you think they convinced Joel McHale — who in his other gig makes fun of people on TV for a living — to rhyme “Britta” with “knit-a”? Or later to declare himself an “attorney at awwwww snap”? The only reason we laughed at Britta’s “not” joke was because even Troy’s goat was disgusted by it. Speaking of which: Troy’s goat!
So yeah, there were three absolutely unbearable high-school kids visiting Greendale this week (for multiple days, apparently?), and they were monstrous and made fun of everyone with a really angry, weird juvenile intensity that was not at all fun to watch. Among other things, it wasn’t: funny. The ringleader of these terrible children had Lisa Rinna for a mom, so I guess he’s not entirely to blame for being horrible. And Jeff tried to seduce Lisa Rinna to “get back” at their underage tormentors, and she played along and even gave him a sports drink from the back of her SUV (not a sex metaphor) but then no, she was horrible and competitive, too, and had a weird angry status thing about community colleges even though she was necking in the cafeteria of one at 2 p.m. with someone she just met? (The logic was hard to follow.) Meanwhile: Shirley was offended by Pierce, who had inappropriately pantsed her. Being hurt and angry allowed Yvette Nicole Brown to utilize her actual human speaking voice, which isn’t at all aggravating but also sounded like a completely different person than the manic, cheery Shirley. And Abed and Troy meta, meta, college-movie reference, meta, Boob-a-Tron, meta, meta.
Look, Community, we’re sorry to rehash this argument, but you’re making it awfully hard for us. Among the things on Abed’s list of necessary college experiences is a “ridiculous situation descending into heavy-handed drama for the illusion of story,” and so he snaps at Troy about friendship before they wheel their robot (!) over to where the cheerleaders are having their bikini car wash (!!). But you know what would have been better? Just giving us the ridiculous situation! (Or, barring that, some actual story!) That’s what happened last week with the sublimely silly chicken-fingers mafia riff. We realize this sounds grumpy. Heck, if Winona Ryder jokes, Chevy Chase in a beret, and Troy speaking to a goat (!!!) can’t win us over, then we must be grumpy. But this was a pretty disappointing episode. And like Pierce says about Britta being a lesbian, “If the wallet chain fits … ”
At EW, Sandra Gonzalez is much more polite than we are in saying she didn’t like the episode.
Todd VanDerWerff at the AV Club actually liked the non-horrible kids parts of this episode. But we agree when he says that he doesn’t “watch this show to cringe”!
We are freaked out because Alan Sepinwall and his astute commenters all liked this episode a lot. Really?