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‘Community’ Review: “Basic Human Anatomy”

Community Basic Human Anatomy Photos Freaky Friday
NBC

Tonight’s ‘Freaky Friday’-flavored episode of ‘Community‘ was written by none other than Dean Pelton himself (star Jim Rash), so it’s gotta be a step up from recent weeks, right? Good news: it is.

While not on par with the Sophie B. Hawkins school dance episode, “Basic Human Anatomy” is a definite step up from last week’s episode (and better than the puppet episode, but everything is). Troy and Abed celebrate the anniversary of the first time they watched ‘Freaky Friday’ together and switch bodies themselves, conveniently on the same day as Troy and Britta’s one-year anniversary. But it’s not just a geeky Troy and Abed gag — the quirky roleplay quickly reveals itself to be something much deeper, and kind of sad. Troy wants to break up with Britta, but he’s scared to hurt her feelings, alienate her, and possibly lose her friendship.

While it doesn’t stick the landing as well as it could have if they had spent more time this season fleshing out the Troy/Britta relationship, it’s still quite moving. The best you hope for when a relationship ends is realizing that you may not have been able to make it work as a couple, but you still care for each other so deeply that you can’t just walk out of each other’s lives. Rather than take the typical sitcom route of having Troy and Britta break up and fight and drag their friends into it for several weeks to come, ‘Community’ takes the unexpected approach by giving them a meaningful end to a not-so-meaningful relationship. It shows how durable these friendships have become over the course of four seasons, but it also gives the show a little breathing room because now we don’t have to wonder what the deal is with Troy and Britta every week. Since they never dedicated much time to focusing on that relationship, the coupling never made much sense.

Emotional moments aside, there’s also some delightfully funny stuff this week, too. Watching Danny Pudi and Donald Glover pretend to be each other’s characters was fantastic, and shows not only their comedic range and how well they know their own characters, but how well they know each other’s characters, too. And since this is an episode written by Jim Rash (Academy Award winner Jim Rash, I might add), the Dean gets plenty of moments to shine when he pretends that he and Jeff have switched bodies — he makes Annie awkwardly swoon, he hilariously repeats lines about how Jeff was “inside his body,” and best of all, he really nails Joel McHale’s portrayal of Jeff with perfect attitude and mannerisms.

As for Shirley and Annie this week, they discover that Leonard is now the front runner to become valedictorian, so they have Dean Jeff dig out his transcripts to see how this is possible, only to find out that Leonard took one class in 1968, got an A, and has been coasting on pass/fail classes ever since. Dean Jeff tells Leonard to beat it, but I sincerely hope that’s not the last we see of the old man. Leonard so rarely pops up, but every time he does he’s a total treat, and to see him go with such a dismissive one-liner is kind of a bummer.

Pierce doesn’t get much to do this week, but he does end up saving the study group’s butts while they’re all distracted with personal dramas. He completes their history assignment beautifully, but is only in the episode for all of three minutes. Given Chevy Chase’s laissez-faire attitude about the show, it’s probably for the best.

“Basic Human Anatomy” (great title for this ep, by the way) really shows off what the new show runners do best by giving us an episode filled with heart, and manages to provide meaning to a relationship that felt haphazard at best. It’s quite a feat. ‘Community’ may never be the laugh riot it once was, but it’s still capable of delivering, albeit inconsistently.

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