Thursday Comedy Roundup: ‘Community’ 4.11 & ‘Parks & Rec’ 5.21

Community - Season 4

Community, Season 4, Episode 11: “Basic Human Anatomy”
Written by Jim Rash
Directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller
Airs Thursdays at 8pm ET on NBC

This week’s Community comes from the pen of Oscar-winning screenwriter Jim Rash, a.k.a. Dean Pelton. It appears to be an episode about the dissolution of Troy and Britta’s relationship, but at its heart it’s just another episode about Troy and Abed. In that respect, it is far more effective than its gimmicky premise would suggest. If anything holds it back it’s that Danny Pudi isn’t nearly as good at impersonating Troy as Donald Glover is Abed. The reveal that it’s all an act explains this, but doesn’t quite serve to redeem it.

Jim Rash also gives himself the best material he’s had all season, and rather than requiring him to dress up, he undresses. The Dean has  been one of the show’s most surefire outlets for comic relief, but like everyone else in season four, he’s oft been reduced to one or two exaggerated qualities. “Basic Human Anatomy” spends some time with him, and it pays off. Sure, it’s playing on his attraction to Jeff, but the joke doesn’t end there. That he proves irresistible to Annie (her uncontrollable attraction to Jeff being the defining aspect of her character this season) is only icing on the cake.

Parks and Recreation - Season 5

Parks and Recreation, Season 5, Episode 21: “Swing Vote”
Written by Joe Mande & Alan Yang
Directed by Alan Yang
Airs Thursdays at 8:30pm ET on NBC

“Swing Vote” bears many similarities to “Bailout” which aired just over a month ago. Both engaged Ron and Leslie in an argument over the role of government. The difference this time around is that the focus is on the wooing of Councilman Jamm’s vote. However, once you learn that Pawnee is subsidizing putt-putt you start to wonder what the going tax rate is, and if Ron’s worldview is not the rational one that develops after being exposed to such a society. Perhaps that is why Ron ultimately wins this argument.

The subplots really carry the weight this episode. Both Andy’s tiff with his band mates in MouseRat and Tom’s inability to break up with Mona Lisa provide lots of good material, particularly for Ann. At the same time, the thematic overlap makes it feel like something of a placeholder episode. The jokes and character moments are great, but it doesn’t really get us anywhere, especially as we head into next week’s season finale.

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