Community, Season 4

How Could Anyone Kill “Pop Pop!”?
Talking television.
March 21 2013 11:15 PM

Community, Season 4


“Diggidy doo” does not a great catchphrase make.

Annie helps the Dean recruit a wealthy student for Greendale.

Photo by: Vivian Zink/NBC

In Slate’s Community TV Club, Aisha Harris will IM about each post-Dan Harmon episode with another Community fan. This week, she discusses “Economics of Marine Biology” with Slate copy editor Miriam Krule.

Aisha Harris: POP POP, Miriam! Words cannot describe how incredibly happy I was when Magnitude returned for the first time this season.

Miriam Krule: Alas, like a Pop Pop-less Magnitude, for me this episode was standard Harmon-less Community: It had the form of something I used to love but was missing its essence.

Aisha: I actually thought this was one of the better episodes. At least, the Dean's storyline of trying to recruit a “whale,” or extremely wealthy student whose parents will donate to the school, was one of the better narratives of this season.

Miriam: My least favorite, and the most random, was the Jeff-Pierce barbershop one. There were no quirks and no real connection. Jeff likes a close shave. Pierce is a misogynist who mocks gay marriage.

And we're supposed to believe that now Jeff defends Pierce? Did I miss something?

Aisha: The point, I guess, is Jeff's progression as a character—in the beginning of the episode, Britta gives him that nudge and points to his "breakthrough" during Thanksgiving with his father. So, Jeff sees things a little more optimistically now. I buy it—somewhat.

Miriam: I guess I just didn't like the direction of his optimism. But the P.E.E. storyline had all the makings of classic Community.

Aisha: I loved that! It was great to see Shirley get more to do for once.

Miriam: Shirley was great, as was Troy. And the absurdity of P.E.E. gave me so much hope. But then they got Chang involved.

Aisha: Yeah, a really tacked-on move, there. It's like they knew they had to remind us that Chang's still lurking. So they incorporate him into this Saved by the Bell-type montage of learning to work together, complete with a fun '80s/’90s song. "Teachers teaching to teach!"

Miriam: Exactly! But this episode as a whole felt like a bunch of feel-good lessons.

Aisha: I got the sense that TGIF at its peak was what they were going for.

Miriam: But like, not mocking it!

Aisha: Because there was no darkness or sarcasm to undercut it. Which was weird, but not too surprising considering how the season's been shaping up so far. On another note: Overall, there was way too much going on. There were four different storylines crammed into a 22-minute show!

Miriam: I think you're right; Community's biggest problem this season is that it tries to do much. This episode is a metaphor for that in some ways. Greendale is trying to get this new student. But it doesn't need a new student. And the show is at its best when the study group is hanging out. When you break up Abed and Troy, you lose me.

Aisha: Troy and Abed in the morning, forever! And in the evening, and in the afternoon. Anytime, really.

Miriam: I'd watch that spinoff.

Aisha: Personally, I liked having the Dean front and center and look forward to perhaps more City College fodder. At this point, the only direction I can see this going is yet another (possibly final) showdown between the two schools. They did try to lure Archie with a Vespa, after all.

Miriam: The Dean has definitely grown on me. It doesn't hurt that my fondness for Jim Rash has also grown in the past few years. I think what worries me the most is that all the well-developed characters with all their quirks are being flattened out.

Aisha: Yeah. But to be fair, there are still some great lines/moments here and there in Season 4. And the actors are still giving it their all. It’s just not cohesive, nor consistent.

Miriam: Wouldn't it have been great if Let's potato chips was the company that Archie's dad owned, and where he got his money?

Aisha:  Get your hands off my Spingles, Miriam. Or is it Springles?

Miriam: And then they all got sick or something. Maybe I should write fan fiction.

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.

Miriam Krule is a Slate assistant editor.



Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
Atlas Obscura
Sept. 16 2014 8:00 AM The Wall Street Bombing: Low-Tech Terrorism in Prohibition-era New York
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 7:36 AM The Inspiration Drought Why our science fiction needs new dreams.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 16 2014 7:30 AM A Galaxy of Tatooines
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.