Community Weekly Review - Basic Email Security

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.

One near-constant with the sixth season of Community is this feeling of the episodes take two steps forward and then one step back. While the show has been consistently funny, its plots often don't lead us anywhere. If you're laughing, you probably don't care too much, but the sixth episode of season six, "Basic Email Security," was probably the rockiest episode of the season yet.

It's a bit of a shame, because creator Dan Harmon (not to mention the still-stellar cast), are obviously trying to do a few new things, forced cast changes aside, but when you've had a show with over 100 episodes (like, say, Community, which hit 100 episodes earlier this season), it's not always easy to find new adventures for your characters to get into, ones that would be realistic in the world of the show, at least.

Unfortunately, in "Basic Email Security," most of the jokes that hit were callbacks, easter egg references to previous episodes or a pretty funny return of a familiar face that doubled as a meta joke. To add insult to injury, the basic storyline of this episode was promising, but failed to deliver any sort of resolution to the matter.

The show opens with Greendale being hacked, which isn't surprising to anyone because, duh, it's Greendale. Elroy gets on the job to fix it, and this was probably one of Keith Davis's best episodes on the show (I know, there's only five of them anyways). Elroy really seems to fit in with Greendale's misfits, and he was both funny and a little creepy, so it's nice to see that character find his niche.

The hackers demand the cancellation of an upcoming comedy show, and use a lot of unnecessary 'z's at the end of their words because that's what hackerz do. If Greendale doesn't cancel it, they will leak the emails of the Greendale Activities Committee, and showed the leaked emails of one of the lunch ladies to show they meant business.The group, convinced by Britta (who had a strong showing in this episode), decide not to bend to pressure and allow Gupta Goopi Gupta to perform his comedy. Unfortunately, Gupta's "comedy" is essentially racist jokes, and most of his shows are heavily protested by nearly everyone.

There were some amazing easter eggs in those emails though:

The saddest was probably the one from Dean Pelton about Buzz Hickey's memorial service (so, I guess he has been written out of the show), but we also got mentions of Leonard, Garrett and Magnitude (pop pop!). But probably the funniest was one from poor Vicky, with the subject line, "your daughter misses you," which was laugh-out-loud funny (and then followed by an audible "awwwww").

As said before, this was also strong episode for Britta and Gillian Jacobs. Harmon seems to have found the sweet spot of the Britta character, bringing her back from being a complete moron (but still fully capable of Brittaing everything). She convinced the group to proceed with the concert and deal with their emails being leaked. There were some (intentional) parallels to the recent Sony email attacks, but nothing too harsh or even memorable was offered about this connection (Sony owns and produces Community, and was a big reason the show is still on). It was also a little unbelievable to have nearly everyone in the group be so clueless about how damaging a hack like that can be.

That said, this led to some of the episode's biggest laughs, as everyone agrees not to read the inevitable leaks, and only Abed follows through on not reading anything. Frankie, Annie, Jeff, Britta, Elroy, Abed and Chang all confront each other in the cafeteria where they're setting up for Gupta's show, and this part was great. Frankie's sexuality was once again called into question, which was funny in many ways but also makes me feel that perhaps it will either become a recurring joke, or be addressed in some final sort of way (much like the Dean's sexuality was in episode "Queer Studies And Advanced Waxing"), which I'm not so keen about, but Community has rarely followed the script of what a sitcom is.

There were some great meta-jokes in this episode that haven't been mentioned yet, but two great ones I'd like to mention were Elroy's disbelief that this group was once a study group, and then Frankie and Elroy's surprise that Chang was once their teacher (and "frankly, hasn't been utilized well since"). Also, "Daybreak" by Michael Haggins got a nice callback as the music played during the setup.

Jay Chandrasekhar, of Super Troopers fame (and director of seven Community episodes), made his acting debut on the show as Gupta Goopi Gupta, and yeah, his jokes were terrible and racist. They were likely terrible on purpose, but Chandrasekhar didn't really do much besides shrug and be racist. It felt a bit wasted, to be honest. Much better utilized was the return of (Fat) Neil, who attended the comedy show just to shout insults at Gupta. There was also a bit of closure to his character, as actor Charley Koontz had joined the cast of CSI: Cyber, hence his absence this season.

The end gave some odd callback jokes, some of which hit, but weren't as funny as intended, and little in way of plot resolution. The group isn't mad at each other and the child hacker was caught by Officer Cackowski (Craig Cackowski), who made his return to the Community after a couple seasons away (and nobody remembered him, hilariously). But the tag at the end with Cackowski and his child partner was really weird, and all the email information is still out there. Perhaps this was Harmon's commentary on the Sony hacks, and how one has to just move on from a privacy breach. But if he had a point he was trying to get across, it was a lukewarm one at best, and the jokes in this episode were either a big hit or a huge miss.

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.
Check back weekly at Everyone Hates Cleveland for more Community and television coverage.
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