Community: Intro to Felt Surrogacy
by Stephen Janes (@stephenkjanes)
Going on the traditional game-changing style of the show, the latest episode of Community featured harmonious musical numbers, puppets and Dean Pelton dressed as a disturbing Pinocchio. In other words, a pretty regular showing of Community that had great nostalgic feel and consistent humor throughout.
Dean Pelton walks in on the study group as they are sitting around awkwardly staring at each other. They group went through, as they described, an embarrassing and unmentionable moment together and everybody is afraid to address the situation. Dean Pelton decides the best way to get everybody to talk is through puppet therapy using his personal collection, which transforms most of the episode into a flashback with puppets playing the role of their human representations.
While in puppet flashback mode, the episode felt similar to classic titles such as Sesame Street or Lambchop’s Play-Along, where the main characters (puppets) interacted with real people through songs. Every single one of these scenes I couldn’t stop smiling at the charm that was presented in front of me. The songs were generally about the situation the characters were going through, which helped carry the story along.
Through the puppets, it is revealed that the group decided to go on a hot-air balloon ride and managed to get stuck in the wilderness unintentionally. Here, they cross paths with a former Greendale student (played by Jason Alexander), who feeds the group poisoned fruit that had similar characteristics to marijuana. Due to their newfound open nature, the group reveals some of their embarrassing stories and they discover that while each told their story, nobody remembered anybody else’s. As Troy eloquently stated, “Those berries made us all talkey, but not so listeney.”
The idea of telling the main story with puppets was brilliant. It honestly felt like watching a classic children’s show, albeit with more adult humor and pop-culture references. The musical numbers provided a great level of humor and just the right amount of storytelling, considering everything was condensed to fit into a thirty-minute slot. When shown with their puppet counter-parts, each character treated them as they treated the situation. For instance, Jeff rarely picked up his puppet as if he didn’t care. Abed treated his like an extension of himself while Troy interacted with his as if it were a different person, even trying to keep his puppet awake on occasion.
Although Dean Pelton played a minor role in the episode, I think it would have been great to have him (and his puppet) randomly interrupt the story with whatever craziness he could come up with. It really would have added another level to that random factor everybody expects from Community. Chang had a very minor role in the story appearing in two scenes and probably could have been cut altogether.
It’s hard to describe what makes a perfect episode of any show, but this episode serves as a very good example for Community. The musical numbers were a perfect length, the story progressed in a consistent manner and the character interactions were just as good as ever. As of right now this is easily my favorite episode of the season and it makes a strong case for favorite of the show as well.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars