Community, Season 3, Episode 9: “Foosball And Nocturnal Vigilantism”
Airs Thursdays 8pm ET on NBC
We are now just one Christmas-themed episode away from Community being benched for an undisclosed period of time and with an episode such as this, it’s all the more heartbreaking. Where else would you get to see a show where a man dressed as Batman grapple hooks himself through his landlords window followed by an anime scene of two people playing Foosball? Yes the show is meta and yes it can get too much for people at times but for what it’s worth, I love the show for everything it is.
People say that the show is too proud of itself, filled with too many references that are impossible to know and that’s the reason that it doesn’t get viewers but you only need to look at any Tarantino movie to see that it can work and still be popular. I’m not going to totally blame it on the public. NBC have it scheduled in the worst time-slot imaginable, against The Big Bang Theory, which regularly attracts upwards of 14 million viewers an episode. You only need to see those numbers to know that nothing can compete. My hope is that when they do decide to bring it back, they change its time-slot to somewhere much better where it can get the viewers it deserves and stay around for those six seasons and a movie, or at the very least the fourth season to wrap things up at the college.
This episode is at times very surreal but it stays mostly grounded and that’s what makes it work. They don’t overuse any of the craziness, they just add enough of it in to make the show great. Jeff and Shirley’s backstory is also a nice touch that allows us to see a link in characters from before community college. The only time that we had that before was knowing that Annie and Troy went to high school together.
Learning the backstory to characters is usually always something great to do on a show. On the most recent season of Breaking Bad we learned of Gus’s past and it made us understand why he acted the way he did towards Hector. With Community it gives us an insight into why Jeff is so obsessed with trying to be cool all the time and also why Shirley tries to be such a good Christian. They were both affected by what happened and it shaped how they are today. Now that we know that, it allows us to form a closer connection to these characters.
Abed dressing up as Batman is his way of dealing with his issues. He doesn’t know how to face them as himself and so by using the disguise he can express his true feelings, much like the way the real Batman costume allows Bruce Wayne to express his anger. So this is my point about the show being meta and people complaining. It uses it in a clever subtle way that people may not realize sometimes, but when they do, they pick it apart purely because being self aware is not seen as something good. We all know when Annie breaks the DVD that she will likely try to replace it with a fake version because as they say we have seen it on every sitcom before, so referencing it and poking fun at our expectations only makes us wonder where the show is taking this. It allows us to go to new grounds with a sitcom.
The episode is very funny and references a lot of things from earlier episodes, such as the policeman who comes to look at the break-in being the same one who taught Annie about gun safety in an episode last season, or Troy humming the same song he and Abed hum in episode five. When not overdone and turned into stupid catchphrases, I love moments such as these and so they are welcome to throw in a few more soon.
As of now, I still don’t see where they are heading with this season. Dan Harmon promised that this season would be much darker than the previous two. So far the only truly dark moment is the benching of the show, unless you consider the darkest of timelines in episode four.
Oh and as a side-note, Leonard’s pizza reviews need to become a real thing. I’d watch every one of them.