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Community Weekly Review - Advanced Safety Features

After five seasons and a cancellation on NBC, Community was rescued by Yahoo and season six debuted on its new home at Yahoo Screen on March 17, with new episodes weekly. Ed Carroll shares his thoughts on the latest episode. You can read his reviews of the other episodes in season six by checking out the links at the bottom.

Perhaps more than any other episode of Community this season, "Advanced Safety Features" made you acutely aware of the show's transition from traditional television on NBC to streaming on Yahoo Screen. In many ways, you could argue this was an extended advertisement for Honda in a Community episode. In a lot of people's hands, this type of episode could have been disastrous -- but creator Dan Harmon instead used Honda's sponsorship as a way to reintroduce Subway, ahem, Rick (Travis Schuldt) into the show and give both a satisfying and slightly sad romantic storyline for Britta, with some good jokes in there as well. 

I know the extended Honda exposure won't sit well with some people, and I'd be lying by saying it wasn't noticeable, but to Community's credit, it was mostly pretty funny and not annoying. Also, credit should probably go to Honda for allowing the show to have fun with it, occasionally (but not too often) at Honda's expense. Who says Harmon is inflexible?

Rick, having been banished by the sandwich company who is no longer paying Community, is now a guerrilla salesman for Honda, and quickly gets Britta to join him, using their love (or lust) as the bait for being a power sales couple. After picking up where their relationship left off in season three's "Digital Exploration of Interior Design" (this time by steaming up the windows of a Honda CRV), Britta becomes addicted to Rick, again, but begins to grow uneasy when she realizes Rick is always a salesman and can't turn it off, even when meeting Britta's parents (who were great to see once again this season).

I absolutely love Harmon's handling of Britta this season. Britta's character has really seen some ups and downs, and for a few seasons was being portrayed as an outright idiot. Gillian Jacobs always kept the character both charming and funny, but it's nice to see Harmon guide Britta into a far more believable role -- she's a constant rebel without a cause, a minimally-informed activist who screws up a lot still but isn't necessarily the butt of every joke anymore. Remember how Britta was the worst bartender in the world (particularly in season two's "Critical Film Studies," where her boss mocks her pathetic tips)? She still doesn't seem great, but she can apparently upsell with the best of them, convincing Rick's boss (Billy Zane) to order a high-self (I think) scotch instead of the club soda he wanted. Yes, these are little details, but Harmon nails this stuff, and it's really rewarding to see these characters continue to grow in season six.

Britta had a strong episode here, as she desired a real relationship with Rick and soon learned that, well, there's little about him that's actually real. And the realization was a tad heartbreaking for Britta, but again, the show chose to use this moment to show some growth in her character. After lamenting that she's a "stage-seven susceptible" like the Dean, she showed her strength by walking away from Rick and Honda after seeing Rick taken away by Greendale security. Credit Jacobs with a strong performance in this episode, while still being the source of a lot of laughs.

I was a little skeptical about seeing Rick again (even though I've loved Schuldt's work on other shows, particularly It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia), particularly since it was essentially the same role we last saw him in season three. However, the sameness of his character ended up being crucial to Britta breaking free from him, and he was funny. I'd be open to another Rick appearance, but please don't make him a salesman again.


The 'B' storyline this week focused on Jeff trying to get Elroy to like him, but ended up giving us some more background about Elroy's past, including that he dated the guitarist and lead singer of Natalie is Freezing (which was the band playing as Britta drove to her parent's house and enjoyed by her and Elroy in this season's second episode), and she hurt him badly. Yeah, it was a bit of an abrupt moment for "hey, my broken heart is now healed!" to "I love you, I love you, and I love you!" at the end, but seeing as Elroy could potentially have only six more episodes, I'm really OK with speeding up the timetable. Elroy reassured Jeff that they will be friends, and (you've heard this before) we got more character growth. 

Frankie Dart wasn't around too much this episode, but was funny when she did. Jeff's line about Troy being able to play the steel drums wasn't so much a humourous payoff, but showed us how badly Frankie wanted to fit into the group and help replace the void left by Troy Barnes. 

"Advanced Safety Features" probably wasn't the funniest episode in the season, but it was humorous enough while giving solid payoffs in both its storylines. In order to develop characters you need to spend time with them (and not simply follow them while they're off doing whatever there is to do at Greendale), and Harmon used this seventh episode to develop Britta, Elroy and to a much lesser extent, Frankie, while still delivering enough of Community's unique sense of humor, making for a great episode.

New episodes of Community debut every Tuesday on Yahoo Screen.
Click here for thoughts on episodes one and two.
Click here for thoughts on episode three.

Click here for thoughts on episode four.

Click here for thoughts on episode five.

Click her for a review of episode six.
Check back weekly at Everyone Hates Cleveland for more Community and television coverage.
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