COMMUNITY 5.12 ‘Basic Story’
Episode: "Basic Story"
Writer: Carol Kolb
Director: Jay Chandrasekhar
Previously on "Community":
There’s a search for story and meaning in this week’s episode of “Community” that may mirror events in real life. At least I’m assuming that someone at NBC is looking at the depressingly low ratings that “Basic Story” attracted last night and they’re wondering what the point of renewing “Community” could possibly be.
After a creatively disastrous fourth season, NBC and Sony brought back executive producers Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna. The result has been a comedic rebirth for “Community,” as the show is once again the best comedy on television. But fewer and fewer people are watching, and that’s a big problem.
If “Community” still had 22 to 24 episodes per season, we probably could have gotten a story about the Save Greendale committee exorcizing demons from the gem or any of the other insane jokes on their board of accomplishments. Instead, we’re cutting to the end as the two part season finale gets underway, and the Save Greendale committee has seemingly done the impossible. They’ve actually saved Greendale.
Everyone is so content that they refuse to get worked up over an impending visit from the insurance appraiser, Ronald Mohammad (Michael McDonald). Only Abed (Danny Pudi) wants to create a narrative around Mohammad’s visit using an aborted season 5 plotline about a fake particle accelerator. Because of Abed’s fourth wall tendencies, he’s the only character who has some awareness that he’s in a story. On some level, Abed knows that the story can’t continue if there’s no conflict or anything to strive for. People want happiness in their lives, not their stories.
Abed’s attempts to create a story out nothing were amusing, particularly the appearance of his alter ego, “me in a beard!” McDonald was also dryly funny as Mohammad and his attempt to violently bring a vending machine down upon himself was a comedic highlight. But Mohammad found nothing significantly wrong with Greendale and he deemed the school an asset.
While the former study group celebrates their success, drunken school board members Richie Countee (Brady Novak) and Carl Bladt (Jeremy Scott Johnson) immediately decide to sell Greendale and cash out. Which means that everything that the committee did for Greendale was ultimately for nothing. And the new owner of the campus is… Subway.
I’ve never thought I’d fall over laughing because of Jared Fogle, but his cameo was truly hilarious as the evil Subway turns Greendale into its latest Sandwich University. They even offer Jeff (Joel McHale) a job teaching “Sandwich Law,” whatever that is.
Throughout the episode, Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) and a few others keep telling Jeff how much Greendale means to him. But it’s not really Greendale that Jeff cares about, it’s his small circle of friends. Out of mutual desperation, Jeff and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) decide that the only way to make their time at Greendale mean anything is if they impulsively get married after re-consummating their relationship on the new study table.
It’s not that Jeff and Britta have a burning desire to be together, they just don’t want to be alone. Most of all, they don’t want to have wasted the last half decade of their lives. If they can have a reasonably happy marriage and a life together then they can tell themselves that it was all worth it.
Because Abed is the one who is always looking for a narrative to tie everything together neatly, it’s fitting that he stumbles upon the trail of a hidden treasure within Greendale that might save the school. It’s completely out of left field and ridiculous, but it was totally worth it to see Abed, Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) and Annie (Alison Brie) doing their treasure dance.
I’m a little disappointed by the backsliding of Chang (Ken Jeong) into villainy, but that is who he is at this point. None of the other characters are all that surprised when Chang turns on them and starts singing the “$5 Footlong” song. The cliffhanger also sets up Chang as next week’s primary villain for Abed, Annie and the Dean.
Unfortunately, this episode doesn’t give Buzz (Jonathan Banks) or Duncan (John Oliver) much to do, probably because of their reduced availability. But Buzz and Duncan did get a great tag scene together as they bonded and learned that they came very close to being related. And they may have a relative in common after all, but that had better not be the end of those two characters on this show. Buzz has been a great addition and Duncan always deserves more screen time when Oliver is able to come on the series.
As we head into next week’s season finale, it’s conceivable that it could be the last episode of “Community” on NBC. Unless Sony TV gives NBC a really good deal, it’s hard to picture the sixth season of “Community” on NBC.
But I believe in “Community.” I think we’ll get that sixth season… even if it’s not on NBC. Maybe we’ll even get a movie where the gang rescues LeVar Burton and his “non-celebrity companion” from pirates in the Gulf of Mexico. Who knows?
However it plays out, I’m grateful for the fifth season that we got. “Community” matters. It matters to me. And if there was no point to this season other than creating another run of great “Community” episodes then that was more than enough reason to renew the show regardless of the ratings.