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'Community' - 'Basic Genealogy' Recap

by Jason Hughes, posted Mar 12th 2010 12:39PM
Katharine McPhee & Joel McHale, 'Community'
(S01E18)
Joel Mchale caught a McPheever this week when Katharine McPhee guest-starred as Amber, a hot chick on campus. The format of 'Community' makes it so easy to drop in guest stars, and yet they didn't just make McPhee simply another student. Instead, we got a "Family Day" event where everybody got to bring in members of their family.

On 'American Idol,' where she came in second to Taylor Hicks, McPhee always touted herself as a singer-actress, so I was looking forward to seeing what skills she would bring to the set. While she wasn't given a very challenging role in Amber, she proved that she could hang with the big boys without sticking out like a sore thumb, so I'll give her kudos for that.

It was a blast seeing Shirley's kids again, as well as Abed's dad. Troy's grandmother, on the other hand ... I don't even know what to say. That mean old relative is a sitcom staple, but still this on went in a very disturbing direction. "I don't understand you, Britta!" Troy shouted to her at one point, and I'm right there with him.

When you see the mean relative in these kinds of shows, they're usually there for one of two reasons. Either it's so the victimized character can learn to finally stand up for themselves like Abed did with his parents earlier this season, or so we can see that underneath that gruff exterior they truly have a heart of gold. On rare occasions, they die so there can be unresolved issues for the main character to explore.

Grandma did none of these things. Instead she had Britta pull her pants down and lie across her lap so she could get beat with a switch. A switch that Britta brought her. At this point, I wasn't sure what Britta was trying to prove by allowing herself to get beat and I'm not sure she did either. She did, however, give Troy and Jeff a shot of her hindside in panties, though whatever "hot" aspects of that there might have been were probably overshadowed by the abuse it was getting.

The situation with Amber was a little more complex as Pierce's ex-stepdaughter from a previous marriage. When it was revealed that he had tricked her into thinking she was coming for a family reunion, I thought she might be simply a victim of his awkward need for affection. I never expected the grifter angle, which was a nice touch.

Jeff, the stand-up guy that he is, still had to sleep with her because she's that hot, but he did restrain himself to doing so only once. All of this was expected, but I was again pleasantly surprised by the intimate moment shared between Jeff and Pierce at the end. Pierce supported that Jeff had slept with her anyway, despite Pierce's earlier protestations, and even seemed to realize he was being grifted.

The only thing that threw off the rhythm of the scene, and really the whole episode, was Jeff bursting into tears so melodramatically at that moment. It just didn't ring true, if such a thing can have meaning on 'Community.' It was either a poor acting job by Jeff, or it was just written a little over the top for the scene. It would have been fair for him to be upset about seeing Slater with another man, but not all of that.

And yet, I wasn't bothered at all about the three different characters who wound up inside a snack vending machine this week. Odd how that works. Shirley's kids came up with a brilliant plan to allow Abed's cousin to jump in the bouncy house, over the protestations of Abed's strict father. When they slipped inside her Burqa to give her a taste of freedom, I thought a testament of Shirley's successes as a parent.

Later winding up in a vending machine proved that they may be just as wild and reckless as ever, but they have great hearts and they care about others. Isn't that more important. For now, they're still rowdy kids, but the foundation has been laid for them to be fantastic adults, which is something Shirley can be proud of.

How Troy and Abed could both get in there is even more of a mystery, though it's just another funny scene to tack onto the long list of hilarious end-scenes this pair has done for the show. I spend half the time I'm watching and enjoying the episode wondering and waiting in anticipation for those few seconds of Troy and Abed at the end. It's like I have two reasons to watch and love 'Community!'

One of the funniest characters that popped up through the episode was Rabbi Chang. His look and title was just as awkward as Senor Chang, and yet he chided our Chang for it. Later, during the unfortunate Pictionary windmill episode, he was perfectly placed to show horror at Pierce's depiction. Little moments like that elevate the comedic game on 'Community' making it one of the strongest ensemble shows on television right now.

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Michael

I know that its difficult to fit in lots of guest stars within a half-hour show but where were the relatives of Britta,Annie,& Jeff? Maybe next time.

March 15 2010 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Roxana

The best part was when they were playing Pictionary. Pierce trying to draw the windmill was funny as hell! And the cop saying "this will never end until Pictionary bans the word windmill". lmfao

March 14 2010 at 9:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
litehousebeacon

I'm not saying I found it hot, but Jason, if you don't think there was anyone who did you haven't spent enough time on the internet.

March 13 2010 at 11:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Walt

The spanking scene was amazing in the context that it was realistic and shown mostly on screen, which is courageous for TV that seldom deals realistically with that subject even in a comedy. Gillian J's facial expressions were amazing and the scene was brutally fun, racially provocative, well done. Hat's off (....or pants down...) to the producers and the actress.

March 13 2010 at 10:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mar

I thought Katharine did a great job and fit right in with the rest of the cast! She certainly played out-of-character (a real biotch) for her. Actually, she's very sweet. So what you saw of her was quite good acting !

Yes, I'm a fan of hers!

March 12 2010 at 5:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tony DIMeo

"I don't understand you, Britta!" I agree because i did not understand this plot line at all, though it was nice having the sexy britta take off her pants and get spanked even if it was by an old lady

March 12 2010 at 3:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Alex

There was all kinds of crazy in this episode, but it was funny as usual. The senor/rabbi Chang was a nice peek at what Senor Chang has got going on for issues. And though Alison Brie didn't really do much in the episode, I love Jeff's interactions with her. And her looks seemed extra "doe eyed" last night..whew.

March 12 2010 at 2:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
R-Bro

Are you kidding? :) The oh-so-trite tears/hug followed by the comments about Glee had me rolling on the floor. That was the second-best moment of the episode, the first being the cop's one-off line about windmills and Pictionary.

March 12 2010 at 1:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Justin

How is one scene over the top when the WHOLE sitcom is over the top? That's the point of Community.

Apparently none of you are too familiar with Channel 101 and Dan Harmon's work. Perhaps if you were, you'd realize scenes like Jeff's overreaction cry and the Britta spanking are exactly the type of weird sight gags Harmon is about.

The show just keeps getting better with each passing episode.

March 12 2010 at 1:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brittany S

As far as the "spanking" scene goes-I found it hilarious! As someone who has been ordered by their grandmother to go and find their own switch I kept thinking Britta was insane for voluntarily wanting to do this just to prove she respects her elders. The comment from Troy that "she has had enough grandma" was priceless and not at all over the top-that was the one moment in the show where i could NOT stop laughing!

March 12 2010 at 1:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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