These lessons we learn at the end of the episode are definitely not tongue-in-cheek. I gave “Community” the benefit of the doubt and just assumed it was a really dry jab at comedies with a message. But after multiple episodes with very serious moments, I can see it isn’t an act. This is what the show wants to be: a comedy with life lessons at every turn. I wish they had pointed that out in the beginning of the series, because now it seems like they’ve drastically changed course.
With that being said, I do admire the believability of Joel McHale’s performance. He doesn’t overplay his concern or his seriousness. I liked his over-the-top ridiculous pomposity at the beginning of the series better, but his new serious touch is nice to see in an actor who is known for his snarkiness and straight-up comedy.
Jack Black was great. He was exactly the way I wanted to see him: earnest, trying too hard, even singing! He was funny without being a scene-stealer. That’s the hallmark of a good comedian. And the cameo of Owen Wilson at the end? I loved it. I actually did a double take. Good touch, “Community.”
I got scared when Senor Chang’s replacement said he had died (when his moped ran into the wall of an Arby’s — how dignified), because he’s one of the best recurring characters on the show. His entrance and his song were priceless, and his pantomimed feast on Annie’s “cabesa” was probably the funniest part of the episode.
The overarching jokes and references to “M.A.S.H.” were kind of funny, but I felt way out of the loop. I’m not sure if they referenced the right show for the audience that watches “Community.” Every time they mentioned “M.A.S.H.,” I kept thinking, “Man, I wish I had seen that show before — are there jokes I’m missing?” As a member of the 18-to-25-year-old age group, I consider myself the average viewer, and I would be hard pressed to find someone my age who is familiar with M.A.S.H. Perhaps that wasn’t the best show to use as a running joke.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with this episode. It was more in keeping with the original few episodes of the series. It was Jeff-centric, the other characters were supporting but not main characters, and there were some great cameos and supporting roles by famous comedians. However, I still don’t like the constant serious lessons we learn, because they seem out of place for a straight comedy. Nevertheless, this episode has instilled in me a new hope that “Community” will return to the good writing and hilarity we saw in the first few episodes.