Community: “Basic Human Anatomy”

While still not living up to the show’s pre-season four quality level, “Basic Human Anatomy” certainly managed to improve upon last week’s disappointing outing and even managed to save some time for the ever elusive (during this season) examination of its characters.

community-jim-rash-basic-human-anatomy-interview-nbcThere was a lot to love this week, and it helps that, on paper, this episode had a lot going for it from the beginning. It is Oscar-winning writer Jim Rash’s (Dean Pelton) first outing as a writer for the show, and while the basic story of the episode wasn’t exactly what I’d call high concept by Community’s standards (Troy and Abed pretend to switch bodies Freaky Friday style) at least it was clear-cut and avoided the kind of thematic overcrowding common in this season’s previous episodes. I would like to see Jim Rash writing more episodes, and I’ve also enjoyed his increased presence as the Dean this season.  His character has been one of the few consistently funny aspects of this season.

In addition to Rash’s writing, it can only be a benefit whenever an episode focuses primarily on Troy and Abed. This episode was really just a showcase for the amazing comedic talents of Danny Pudi and Donald Glover. In terms of story, the episode is pretty lame since it relies on the whole “body switching” trope which is usually a huge cop out, but here it works well mostly because we never for one second believe that Troy and Abed actually switched bodies. In fact, the episode mostly follows Jeff as he tries to figure out why Troy and Abed are acting like each other. The result of the “switch” is a hilarious showcase of Pudi’s and Glover’s impersonations of each other. Glover in particular has an almost uncanny grasp on Abed’s quirks and mannerisms. Jim Rash’s impression of Jeff Winger was also spot on in his “transformation.”

Community - Season 4What’s more, one of my least favorite aspects of season four was done away with in this episode: Troy and Britta’s relationship. I’m not sure anyone was really rooting for these characters to stay together. They have very little in common, and while I like both characters, they have very little comedic chemistry together. It feels like even the writers had little faith in them as a couple, as besides a few episodes here and there, the show rarely seems to focus on the two of them as a couple. The break up scene itself, however, was awkwardly handled. I would be way more upset if I were Britta and Troy had just broken up with me via Abed of all people. She didn’t even bat an eye at the mistreatment, and then there was the weird hug between them at the end that seemed to be just skirting around the usual bad feelings that accompany break ups and skip straight to the resolution, as if there just wasn’t any time left to deal with it in the rapidly concluding season or something, though I do appreciate that the writers seem to be sweeping this misstep of a relationship under the rug and walking away entirely.

Despite how awkwardly the breakup was handled, I did feel that as things were wrapping up for Troy and Britta’s relationship, there was some real emotional weight to the fact that both parties were able to see that things weren’t working out and, for the sake of friendship, end things amicably. I’ve been harping on it all season, but this is the theme Community is about to its core: living within a community. It’s possible to not love someone and still love them, as a person and a friend. Living with other human beings requires honesty and willingness to find the best way you fit into another person’s life. And while things were rushed and poorly handled, I couldn’t help but enjoy seeing that come through in the way Britta and Troy handled their failed relationship.

Overall, this was one of the stronger episodes this season. It had the laughs, the advancement of story, and the solid performances. There still doesn’t seem to be much going on in terms of season long story arcs, and things still have a strong denouement vibe going on. Hopefully, the season will end on a strong note like this episode.

Additional Thoughts

  •  This week’s tag was great and reminded me of the sorely missed “Troy and Abed in the Morning” bit. 
  • The out-of-the-blue scene involving the janitorial staff secretly enacting British murder mysteries in full costume was delightfully unexpected and adorable.
  • I was a little disappointed to see a lack of follow up on the hilarious dark timeline tag from last week. Perhaps the finale?
  • Once again Pierce is almost wholly absent from the action no doubt due to Chevy Chase’s off-screen drama.
Daniel Dye

Daniel Dye

Daniel Dye

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