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October 10, 2015

'Community' - 'The Science of Illusion' Recap

by Jason Hughes, posted Mar 26th 2010 4:26AM
Gillian Jacobs, 'Community'(S01E20) One of the criticisms about 'Community' throughout this season has been with the characterization of Britta, as portrayed by Gillian Jacobs. While the rest of the ensemble has received praise for their goofy character quirks and the humor they bring to the series, Jacobs has been considered a bit of a buzzkill in the fan community.

Big props to the producers and writers of the series for tackling this criticism head on by making Britta's lack of "fun" the central plot of the episode. In doing so, they even did a respectable job of explaining to us how they see her role in the study group, and I guess I can buy it.

On the other side, because of April Fool's Day, Annie and Shirley are temporarily hired as campus security guards, just in time for a real crime to solve. Did I mention Pierce in a wizard's robe waving around a cookie on a stick?

I was glad at the end when Pierce revealed that he knew the robes weren't real, because I wasn't sure I wanted him to be quite that stupid. But then he went on to explain that he'd gotten held back at his weird religious cult, so he knew he hadn't truly earned them and I realized that I really do want him to be just as naive and stupid as ever. Troy can't carry that load alone.

Britta's attempt at an April Fool's joke did lead to some great comedic moments for Jacobs. Even if Britta can't succeed as "the funny one" ever, at least we know that Jacobs has no problems in that area at all. Those few seconds as the body slid out the window and she backed onto the sombrero-wearing frog were pure gold. It was all in the facial expressions.

Annie and Shirley's investigation into the matter was a whole different kind of funny. I thought their sparring over which one of them got to be the badass was perfect, as they're the two most buttoned down characters on the show. Annie, youthfully exuberant, was the only one who could have gotten away with abruptly slamming Jeff's head into the table. The laugh that slipped out of me was as surprising as the act itself.

Abed as audience to their buddy cop drama was another great use of his film, TV and pop culture obsessed persona. The explanation that his cable was out was all we needed to completely believe him in this role. Highlights were him asking the guy to hold his spot while he went to the bathroom, and him stepping in for Dean Pelton when the girls needed to be reprimanded.

The self-awareness of the show and of recurring story elements in popular entertainment are one of my favorite aspects of it. It works, because 'Community' manages to defy many of those common conventions, while staying true to them at its core: a juggling act that is difficult but can create very satisfying comedy.

We do like certain things in our comedies because they make us feel good. That's why Michael Scott on 'The Office' is off-putting to many people. He breaks all the conventions of a comic lead and makes the show uncomfortable to watch at times. 'Community' manages innovation in their characters without any discomfort.

I don't know if Greendale is big enough to have a morning radio show, or a radio station for that matter, but I would totally listen to 'Troy and Abed in the Morning.' In fact, considering the success Ricky Gervais has had with his podcast, I wonder how long before Donald Glover and Danny Pudi take this beautiful comic chemistry they have between them and expand it into other arenas.

[See if you have a funny bone with clips and full episodes of 'Community' over on SlashControl.]

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jeff's comment about cagney and lacey when the girls pulled up in front of him was classic!

March 27 2010 at 10:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

abed needs an emmy for all the impressions. as does troy when he cries.

March 27 2010 at 2:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I wish I was in a study group with Britta & Annie,sigh.

March 26 2010 at 5:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yeah, I thought Pierce was Mickey Mouse from Fantasia.

And I'm also the kind of person who thinks a little hat on a frog is pretty funny.

March 26 2010 at 2:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Halfway through, when we heard Starburns say Cookie Crisp, we were confused, so went to wikipedia to see Cookie Crisp, I always assumed it was the cop and robbers. apparently not. Then is was so funny when Troy said he didn't get the Cookie Crisp reference. I love the detail to this show, they know not everyone is going to get the reference, so they play into that. It is the funniest show on TV.

March 26 2010 at 1:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was with Troy: I never heard of the Cookie Crisp wizard mascot.

March 26 2010 at 12:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Zachary's comment

The head smashing also caught me by surprise, which was fantastic. If I was eating or drinking something, I surely would've choked to death. Erm... that was meant to sound less dark and more high praise. Moving on.

The chase was also funny especially with Annie pepper spraying herself and then crying out in pain. Genius.

March 26 2010 at 9:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This was such a hilarious episode. I laughed continuously when Shirley and Annie stopped Jeff and searched him and then the whole chase scene. And of course, when Annie smashed his head against the table in the end, I can't remember the last time I laughed so genuinely at a show on TV. It was just so unexpected.

March 26 2010 at 8:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That is clever of the show creators! Fun episode. Fast & tight. More focused and less all over the place as with that
billiards eps which bordered on creepy. Tight theme the way the pottery class was. Need that in a half hour comedy.
Wandering is for hour shows which aren't often an shown in prime time except as part of variety concept.
The wizard setup was funny. Just a good show and glad for the using of Britta. But gotta admit not a real fan of that tail end radio duo bit. Yawn. Cut into the time needed to flip into second half hour of Hells Kitchen. Rather see a tag end to the eps itself.
Loved the goof small guard golf cart thingie.

March 26 2010 at 8:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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