Community Weekly Review - Laws of Robotics and Party Rights

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.

I've mentioned in these thoughts before that "Community" creator Dan Harmon and his writing crew have been able to consistently bring humor to season six, but the stories had been pretty lacking. This week's episode, "Laws of Robotics and Party Rights," felt like the most complete episode of the season yet, with solid story payoffs in both main plot, which saw Greendale accept rehabilitating prison inmates (and their grant money) via basically iPads connected to Segways, and the less-eventful, but still entertaining 'B' plot, which saw Britta try to manipulate Abed into allowing a party at their apartment.

There really was just so much about this episode that worked, right from the get-go. Having Frankie introduce the idea of the program was perfect, although she wasn't too crucial to the rest of the episode. Having Jeff support the idea actually gave us another look inside the classroom (which you would think would be a regular scene on a show about a community college but this is "Community," after all), and Joel McHale's electronic actions with Brian Van Holt's Wily were really funny to watch, particularly in both of the "attempted murder" scenes in the parking garage. The students in Jeff's class seem to change every time, but I guess when he's just blowing off work the entire time it doesn't really matter, huh?

"Community" might have skimped on the Dean/Jeff love during last week's Pelton-centric "Queer Studies and Advanced Waxing," but it made up for it this week, particularly after the Dean put Jeff on sabbatical, leading Jeff to need to find another way to tell the Dean he cares about him - which also led to Elroy getting integrated back into actual plots, as he whipped up a broomstick robot so Jeff could get "into" Greendale. We've had "Jeff obsesses over ... " episodes before, but this one felt different, probably because Jeff wasn't obsessing over Wily the entire episode. 

Similarly, we've had episodes where all of Greendale gets swept up in some new craze, but even here, the prisoners didn't become a full-blown obsession (though they did get a jailbreak to Abed and Britta's party) so it still felt new. Getting to see the Dean pick Broomstick Jeff off the ground (and then dance around with him) was the most satisfying ending to any of the main storylines this season, and "Laws of Robotics and Party Rights" is now easily the high point of season six so far. "Let's do this like a community college." 

As mentioned before, the 'B' plot was strong, and we're starting to see the Britta and Abed rivalry (for lack of a better term) start to sow seeds of friendship, but not before Britta manipulates Abed into supporting a party by convincing him to film it. This actually didn't take up too much of the screen time, which might have been why it was so strong; rather than get bogged down in excessive gags about the party, it showed us enough of the conflict between the two, particularly after Abed found out he was being used. The show might have been a bit too blunt when Annie sympathized with Britta over how hard it is to become real friends with Abed, but I'd also rather have something along the lines of what we got than a sappy "Britta and Abed are friends now!" (not that I necessarily think Harmon would give us this).

Abed's "pop-backs" were almost spot-on hilarious, making it look identical to season three's "Studies in Modern Movement" except ... the too-awkward "Hey, Troy!" and we only see a hand wave that is obviously not Donald Glover. Harmon has been vocal about his desire to have Glover return to the show in any way possible whenever Glover desires, and part of me wonders if that scene was in to potentially facilitate an easy cameo, without any entanglements of "why would Troy only come back to Greendale for a scene?" They obviously weren't able to get Glover, and it looks like the scene was modified to reflect that. I could be completely off-base, but after some of the weird things the show did in season four to cover up the departure of Chevy Chase, I had gotten pretty sick of that kind of wink-nod humor. I'm nitpicking one (bad) part of an otherwise really funny bit, but it just stuck out like a sore thumb and I can't help but think it was Harmon's Hail Mary to work Glover into season six in some capacity. A for effort, Dan, but C for execution.

Still, this episode felt as classic as "Community" will get without Chase, Glover and Yvette Nicole Brown. Greendale embraces a ridiculous concept with hilarious and heartwarming results, and hopefully "Laws of Robotics and Party Rights" is a sign of season six hitting its stride with eight episodes to go.

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