Saturday, November 14, 2009

Community 1.09: "Debate 109"

“Annie, I was a lawyer. I was a debater for money. I think I can handle this.”


The plots of this week’s episode of Community seemed to be tied together by the idea of valuing people recognizing their abilities, sometimes strange abilities. Pierce realized he had the ability to help Britta quit smoking. Jeff realized he had the ability to debate when he actually cared enough to prepare properly. And Abed? Well, somehow he’s got the ability to predict the future. He claims he’s just very observant and can accurately predict behavior based on what he’s observed, but I’m with Shirley. Dude’s prescient!

The action all starts, as it often does, around the study group table with Pierce trying to tell a non-PC joke. Britta seems especially irritated and is snapping at everybody. It turns out that she’s trying to quit smoking, and it’s not going well. Pierce, as he does, announces that he knows a wonderful hypnotherapist to help Britta- himself. I like that we have an actual consistent character trait for Pierce now- anytime anybody needs something done, Pierce thinks he’s the man for the job.

Troy bursts into the room having made a disturbing discovery. All of Abed’s student films are about the study group, and somehow he’s been predicting what they would do several weeks in advance, sometimes down to exact phrases they would use. This freaks everybody out, especially Shirley. Shirley believes Abed must have some sort of magical power, even though Abed claims it’s just his powers of observation and knowledge of human behavior picked up from his intense absorption of pop culture. Shirley is especially freaked out when Abed shows her footage of her doppelganger being chased by a werewolf. I actually really like the “Community College Chronicles,” as Abed calls his show. The caricatures of the characters are really funny, plus Sandeep Parikh (also from The Guild, which I’ve already mentioned earlier today) plays Abed, and he’s hilarious. I’ve watched the two webisodes on already, and I actually laughed more watching those than I do when watching Community. Take that for what it’s worth.

Yet another plot starter is rolled out in this episode that has been used in the series before. The Dean needs Jeff’s help. Again. This time, it’s for the upcoming debate competition. Annie’s debate partner has dropped out, and they need Jeff to fill in. Jeff thinks it will be a cakewalk, considering he used to get paid to convince people he was right in the courtroom. Because he’s so confident, he doesn’t put much effort into studying. The question for debate? Whether man is inherently good or evil. Jeff and Annie are on the “man is evil” side.

Poor Annie is absolutely robotic when debating. I’m not a great public speaker (yeah I know…almost a lawyer…not that I ever intend to set foot in a court room), but even I can speak more naturally than Annie with her forced hand motions. Greendale is debating City College, and their star debater, Jeremy Simmons, is overdramatic and just about every debate cliché in the book. Jeff is a bit of a cliché himself- the middle/early-high school class election speech cliché. He does what everybody in my middle and high schools did to get elected class president from the whole “no need to be formal, let’s just talk” thing to the “I won’t recite quotes and statistics” thing. It sort of works in community college too, apparently. Jeff gets hearty approval from the crowd, but he and Annie only earn 8 points, and it was Annie who earned those points, not Jeff. Before the competition gets worse, it’s delayed because the Greendale basketball team, known for being the “gayest team” in college sports, has reserved the space. Although the joke is kind of tasteless, the basketball team is pretty funny with their short shorts and handlebar mustaches.

Jeff is upset about doing so poorly in the competition, but he doesn’t really want to show it (a character trait predicted by Abed’s student films). He starts acting like he cares about the competition, however, when Jeremy Simmons starts making fun of Annie, using her old nickname of “Annie Adderall.” Jeff and Annie start hitting the books, and they come to an important conclusion. In order to succeed when the debate resumes, Jeff needs to get more serious about preparation, and Annie needs to loosen up. She starts her loosening up by letting her hair down, and that leads to some quite squicky Annie/Jeff sexual tension. Seriously, isn’t she supposed to be only eighteen? I don’t really understand why the writers even felt the need to go there. It wasn’t funny- just awkward. After the awkwardness, which ends with Jeff giving Annie a pat on the head, the two decide to study separately for the rest of the night.

The next day, Jeremy Simmons is giving a tearful speech as part of the debate. Jeff was up next, and he rocked it. He used quotes and statistics just like he was supposed to. Combined with his natural charisma, he and Annie seemed unstoppable. Jeremy then brings out a bit of a Hail Mary move. He projects himself out of his wheelchair, and when Jeff catches him, Jeremy tries to use that as proof that “man is good.” Annie, who has finally loosened up a bit, decides to go off book herself for her next move. She kisses Jeff (yet another of Abed’s predictions), who promptly drops Jeremy. “He was horny, so he dropped him,” Annie declares, “Man is evil.”

No comments:

Post a Comment