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Thoughts on this week’s Community and Parks & Recreation

Breaking In and 30 Rock will be in a separate post later. Sorry for the delay!

Community: I’ve only recently begun watching Community, so appreciating tonight’s episode was hard. For the long-time fan, I’ve been told that tonight’s episode provided an extremely satisfying commentary on the current season. And while this season supposedly doesn’t hold up to the last, “Paradigms Of Human Memory” is an amazingly meta examination of what the series has been this season.

Community works best when it’s just plain clever; when the series substitutes pure ridiculousness over wit, episodes run into problems. Sure, ridiculous premises can be both insane and clever, yet sometimes the boundaries are pushed too far (take the diner sections of the “Quentin Tarantino episode”). Tonight was about everyone: Jeff and Britta’s selfishness, everyone else’s selfishness, the group’s fighting, some more selfishness… if tonight’s episode proved anything, it was the extreme self-interest of Community‘s characters. Yet the show has always worked because of the underlying love that holds the group together, even if that love isn’t always evident. While the group might have its differences, at the end of the day, they’re still a family.

Tonight’s episode could also be called a clip show, though that would be a bit unfair. It uses scenarios from previous episodes (Dean’s costumes) and incorporates those tropes into a commentary on the show itself. The fight scenes in particular show the classic rinse-and-repeat nature of Community: they fight, they make up. Yet it works so well because Community is so self-aware of its own patterns and is able to mock the more procedural aspects of the series.

Also: The Cape and Glee jokes. More, please.

Grade: A-

Parks & Recreation: Almost total perfection… again. Tonight, Parks & Recreation paired off its characters: Leslie and Tom, Andy and Chris, Ron and April, and Ann with whomever she was hooking up with at the time. Each pair worked flawlessly. Leslie finds out, through an online dating website, that her titular “soulmate” is none other than Tom. After realizing that only douchey guys are into her, she proceeds to have a “douchevestigation” to get to the bottom of her stunted love life. Of course, there is a man for Leslie (Ben), and the next six episodes will be undoubtably dedicated to that particular relationship. Yet like all of the relationships (currently) in Parks & Recreation, it’s meant to be as the characters work so well together.

Andy and Chris’ story was literally watching a very patient father take his naive and lovable son to a grocery story. The story translates even more efficiently on screen because of Andy’s destructively inquisitive demeanor. And Chris’ health crusade’s inevitable crash and burn only reaffirms how peculiar Rob Lowe’s character is. Chris is probably my least favorite of the two new additions this season, yet Lowe plays the one-dimensional Chris with such sincerity that it’s hard not to like him.

While “Soulmates” wasn’t as perfect as “Andy and April’s Fancy Party,” the hour still proved why Parks & Recreation is the dominate sitcom on network television. Yeah, I sad it. Sorry, Modern Family

Grade: A


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