Community – Home Economics [1.8]

Jeff is forced out of his apartment and ends up living with Abed, becoming unmotivated to do anything but watch TV.  This provokes Britta to try to pull Jeff back into his materialistic life.  Meanwhile, Pierce joins Vaughn’s band, and ends up co-writing a song about how awful Britta is.  Later, he argues with Vaughn and ends up at the receiving end of Vaughn’s wrath.  At the same time, Annie finds herself in the uncomfortable position of giving Troy advice on how to impress another girl on a date.

Written by Lauren Pomerantz • Directed by  Anthony Russo
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Cast Notes
Eric Christian Olsen reappears as Vaughn.  As I may or may not have mentioned before (it’s been a while) he was a regular on NCIS: Los Angeles.

Dominik Musiol makes his first of eight appearances in the series as Pavel.

Patton Oswalt plays Male Nurse Jackie (in his first of two appearances).  He’s been in lots of stuff, but I know him mainly from Agents of Shield where he played at least three identical agents all named Koenig.  He’s also scheduled to play “TV’s Son of TV’s Frank” in the upcoming revival of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. 

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Comments
Last time, we had the first “great” episode of Community, and by implication pretty much the best one of the show so far.  This time, we kind of have the first “really bad” episode, and so I guess it’s the worst one so far.

And by “really bad” I guess I just mean that it’s kind of lame, and a bit boring. Annie’s unrequited crush on Troy is a pretty dull bit of characterization for these two.  It’s not very funny here and of course we know it’s going nowhere.

Similarly, the story of Jeff losing his ambition when he moves in with Abed is kind of dull.  It makes sense in terms of Jeff’s characterization, and there are some amusing pop-culture references (like when Abed quotes Knight Rider’s tagline, or when Jeff calls Britta “honky” when he’s talking about The Jeffersons), but it’s just not that funny.

I imagine some fans might appreciate episodes like this because they focus on the characters as people more than just metafictional storytelling.  And while I admit that metafictional storytelling can have its limitations, I have to say that is a big part of what I enjoy about Community.  So when it’s not there, the script better be dynamite:  witty dialogue, engaging emotions, and so on.  But this time around it’s pretty thin on the ground.

Surprisingly, the best stuff here is probably the bit with Vaughn and his band, if for no other reason than it’s amusing to see how bummed out this supposedly invulnerably peppy guy could be.  His dialogue is really the best, like when he tells Britta she’s the opposite of an anti-oxidant, or when he says to her, “I’m an artist and I write what I feel.  And I feel that you suck!”  And I kind of like it when Pierce feels the need to make sure that people around him know he’s the Pierce in Vaughn’s angry song.

So not a total waste of time, but on the whole I’m happy to have this one behind me.

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Pop-Culture Connection
Again, many:  Jeff & Abed watch The Jeffersons, and there are references to Good Times, Brian Williams, Cop Rock, Simon & Garfunkel, Phil Spector, ET, Knight Rider, Michael Richards, and the movie Overboard with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell.  And Jeff is selling Spider-Man comics?

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Meta-Qualities
Umm, not really anything this time.  Oh well.

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Getting to know Greendale
Nothing really new comes out, except that they have an “east lawn” where the outdoor concert is held.

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Familiar Faces
Vaughn is back (see Social Psychology) as well as the Drummer from the previous episode.

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Key Developments
We have the first appearances of both Male Nurse Jackie and Pavel, Abed’s neighbour.

Also, Jeff makes the first reference to his father, I believe, when he says, “TV’s the best dad there is. TV never came home drunk. TV never forgot me at the zoo. TV never abused and insulted me. Unless you count Cop Rock.”

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Cry Racism!
Um…nope.  Not this time.  Well, except when Troy explains why he can’t offer to have Jeff stay at his house: “I’d offer, but my dad’s kinda racist.”

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Observations
• OK, there are a few funny line, like when Jeff yells into the phone, “No, your incredulity perplexes me, nerd!”  And when he says to Britta, “Move on with my life?  Shmove shmon shmith shmy shmife!”

• And Abed has one very quick, but quite clever line?  He says, “You could stay with me in the dorms. My room has a bunk bed. A misnomer, because it’s the real deal.”

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Closing Tag
Pierce and a rapper (uncredited, but listed on IMDb as “M.C. Dan Harmon) do an insulting rap to Vaughn, but he interrupts them.

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Most Inspired Moment(s)
On the whole, I think it’s Vaughn’s amusingly bitter songs that win the nod here…he’s just so blatant in his abuse.  Although, I also like Jeff’s line about TV being the best Dad there is (see “Key Developments” above).

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Previous Episode:  Introduction to Statistics • Next Episode:

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