Community: Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations Season 4 Episode 5 Review

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Another week, another misplaced Community holiday episode.  Tonight’s Thanksgiving special saw the gang being trapped in Shirley’s garage and Jeff finally meeting his estranged father.

After last week’s mishmash German invasion story, this week offered some much needed improvement.  As everyone discusses their Thanksgiving plans around the study room table, the Dean lets it slip that Jeff is going to visit his father who abandoned him as a child.  Britta, being the self-involved therapist that she is, decides to accompany him.  You know, just to make sure that are no chairs thrown or weaves pulled per her expertise of daytime talk shows.

Jeff’s family reunion was the highlight of the night.  His father (guest star James Brolin) greets him calmly at the door and the two seem to hit it off rather easily.  Too easily, one might say.  Jeff also meets his half-brother (Workaholics’ Adam Devine), who’s benefited from Papa Winger’s presence as much as Jeff has from his absence.  As I, and Britta, suspected there’s a hiccup in the road when Jeff’s father decides to pat himself on the back for having his son turn out so well.  This leads to one of Jeff’s most emotionally vulnerable speeches yet, where he reveals that, although he may seem put-together on the outside, he’s actually a huge mess.  And it’s all his father’s fault.  James Brolin does a great job of playing the perfectly disaffected dad, and although there’s no kiss-and-make-up scene, it seems the whole ordeal allows Jeff to become a stronger person.  Who could ask for a better Thanksgiving than that?

Probably Abed, Annie, Troy, and Pierce, who are all stuck at Shirley’s awkward and uncomfortable Thanksgiving dinner with her husband’s side of the family.  The gang decides to retreat to the garage for solace, and the whole thing turns into a parody of Shawshank Redemption, with Abed doing the Morgan Freeman voiceovers.  The idea was nice, but it was kind of a wasted opportunity.  I wished they had saved this movie reference for something more worthy.  In the end it turns out even Shirley doesn’t like her in-laws, and they all decide to stick it out together as a team.

As always, the best moments of the night were blink-and-you-missed-it one-liners and sight gags.  The Dean wearing Jeff’s cowboy shirt from the second paintball episode.  Pierce’s attempt at getting Abed’s reference humor with a jab at Tyler Perry’s Madea.  And of course, Britta’s misuse of the “I see what you did there” meme.

Overall, this episode injected a lot of life back into Community‘s fourth season.  While it had its faults, I was reminded several times of the show’s earlier seasons and the easy camaraderie that can come about with the Greendale Seven.  Jeff meeting his father was definitely a major development, and I’m excited to see how this affects his character in the coming weeks.  Grade: B+

By Mike Papirmeister    


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