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October 14, 2015

'Community' - 'Beginner Pottery' Recap

by Jason Hughes, posted Mar 19th 2010 12:22PM
Tony Hale(S01E19) "Congratulations, you failed a class so easy that people passing in the hallway get a contact credit."

Utilizing their setting on a college campus has allowed 'Community' to seamlessly stream in guest stars without ruining the flow of the series. This week, Jeff took another stab at a "blow-off" class, bringing us the incomparable Tony Hale as the ethereal instructor of Beginning Pottery, not to mention Lee Majors as the sailing teacher.

While Jeff was able to get Abed and Annie to join him in pottery, Pierce, Troy and Shirley instead took to the high seas ... of the parking lot, when they signed up for a sailing class. Jeff's journey was one in which he had to learn that being the "cool guy" doesn't necessarily mean he's good at everything. The lesson came from a not-so-surprising source: the resident expert on not being good at things.

The sailing storyline was little more than sight gags and silliness, but I thought Jeff's journey of self-discovery had some genuine character moments, and plenty of funny moments. I certainly didn't expect Dr. Pottery's voiceover at the end. I guess we all have the demons of our parents to thank for some of our hang-ups.

Jeff's need to always be the best, funniest and most successful with the ladies simply wouldn't allow him to relax and go for the easy A in pottery. When Dr. Pottery proved quite adept at the technique, Jeff became obsessed with breaking the guy. His research led to a great moment when Abed told him he was Jeff Goldblum-ing a bit, and Joel McHale did his best impression of the gangly actor while admitting he had no idea what that meant.

The flashback cutaways to Jeff's unseen mother telling him he was the most special boy in the world added the perfect element of depth to Jeff's obsession, and did much as explanation for his behavior throughout most of the season. It was when we got the doctor's mother in voiceover at the end that we delved into the disturbing a bit. It did, however, reveal that Jeff was correct that the good doctor was an expert potter.

However, he was probably only taking the class for the easy A, as our dear Mr. Winger was doing. I loved that Jeff's breakdown led into a full on recreating of the 'Ghost' pottery scene, the only rule in the class being that 'Ghost' was off-limits, followed by Jeff bursting into the film's Righteous Brothers theme.

Shirley had a bit of a journey herself, but she really ended up back where she started: as a nice person. She instead appears to have taught the instructor that sometimes it's worth sacrificing something to do the right thing, even though in this case she sort of sacrificed the pretend lives of herself and her crew in her attempt to save Pierce from drowning in a parking lot.

The boat in the parking lot lent itself to plenty of visual humor, including Chevy Chase hanging out over the "ocean" on the mast, and the shot from inside a classroom as the boat "sailed" by with our cast working their hardest at the sails and controls.

Other highlights:
  • Shirley discovering what Cinemax gets up to during the late night/early morning hours
  • Senor Chang's troubles at the gym leading to him first being shirtless, and then the implied image of him cruising to work in his speedo
  • "I commanded a jet ski through an electrical storm, and only had one casualty." --Pierce
  • "I hope I get multiple personalities; I get lonely in long showers." --Troy upon learning that many psychological issues manifest during college
  • Annie either needs to get her some, or spend some time in a male strip club. Her phallic pottery project was a little too ... handled.
  • The quick sight gags of the Patrick Swayze poster with the "X" on it (done before he died, so it's not tacky), and the 'Titanic' poster, shutting down Pierce's "King of the world" moment.
[Relive your best years with clips and full episodes of 'Community' over on SlashControl.]

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I love (as always) the scenes in the library. Troy hoping he gets multiple personalities!

And how about Abed's voiceover (when Rich was first introduced) - I thought that was funny because when the voiceover started, I thought "hmmm, a voiceover? This is something new" and then of course, they pan over to Abed!

At first, I thought the sailing scenes were kind of bizarre (and plain silly) but then after Pierce fell over board and the whole bit thereafter - that was great.

March 19 2010 at 9:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My favorite line from the episode was from Troy when Pierce was hanging from the boat, "He's ghost-riding the jib", I laughed hysterically.

March 19 2010 at 5:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Best show NBC has added in a long, long while.

Last night I laughed out loud. Alone in a room by myself. The only other shows that do that to me are Venture Brothers, Seinfeld and 30 Rock, although in fairness I think the latter two were also in the past 48 hours, so maybe there's something in my water.

March 19 2010 at 5:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can't believe you didn't mention this line from Abed:

"Anyone can be a lawyer. You can even represent yourself. You can't operate on yourself. It's against the law. You'd get arrested. Then you'd get a free lawyer."

March 19 2010 at 3:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John From Raleigh

Just another outstanding episode from my perspective. The depth of this is writing is top notch, the ending voice over just a great touch and show how sophisticated this show really is. Also, they are doing a great job of developing all the characters to be more then one dimensional notes. Even Troy is continuing to grow and show more depth. My favorite line of his tonight was... "I have really weak arms for a quarterback" of something to that effect.

March 19 2010 at 2:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I really enjoy this show. While its not the funniest on TV or the most creative, I still find myself excited about watching it each week. The part where they were saving Pierce from "drowning" had me laughing out loud. I'm glad this show was renewed for another season, as I am now oddly attracted to Joel McHale.

March 19 2010 at 12:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Nicole's comment
The Deej

I've been attracted to him since his days on Almost Live.

March 19 2010 at 2:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can't believe you didn't mention the other guest star... you know... the one that was actually more interesting... the one by the actor I haven't seen on tv in about 25 years? Lee Majors was the sailing instructor... The Fall Guy?!?! The Six Million Dollar Man!!! And you point out Tony Hale? My achin' back.

March 19 2010 at 12:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Mike's comment
The Deej

Yeah no kidding. Look for him on the season finale of Human Target as well

March 19 2010 at 12:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jason Hughes

You caught me. I knew he looked familiar, but couldn't place a name to him (I know, I know).

March 19 2010 at 1:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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