'Community' - 'Accounting for Lawyers': Heather Pop-and-Locklear rules!

Posted Oct 1, 2010 9:39 AM By Alan Sepinwall

<p>Annie in action on &quot;Community.&quot;</p>

A review of last night's "Community" coming up just as soon as I rub Purell on my brain...

"Community" gets dismissed in certain corners as being too snarky and/or hip for the room. While I can certainly understand people being turned off by the meta commentary and the referencing, "Community" is, in fact, one of the more sincere, heartfelt comedies on television. Yes, it does random asides about itself and about pop culture, but at its heart its a story about friendship, and how learning to care about other people can make you a better person yourself.

"Accounting for Lawyers" was a very strong example of the show's core themes, and one that took its wiseass leading man very seriously.

Abed notes that Jeff's old lawyer buddy Alan (Rob Cordry) is "from your origins," and much of the episode was a Jeff Winger origin story. We not only see where he used to work and get a sense of the jerk he was when he worked there, but in talking with old boss Ted (a very sleek Drew Carey) about why Alan should make partner, Jeff revealed the painful childhood reason for why he wanted to become a lawyer in the first place. He wanted to be someone who, like the guy in the slick suit and car, could "rise above the sloppy stuff and look at the bottom line." His life at Greendale, meanwhile, is all about the sloppy stuff, and though he tries to resist the study group's attempt to pull him back there, he ultimately realizes that while caring can make you vulnerable, it can also make you much happier than he was in his former life.

And what I liked about Jeff's part of the A-story was that it didn't push too hard for jokes. (Though I did love the line about why Shirley shouldn't sue the stripper: "She's a stripper. Life sued her and she lost.") Though he and Abed talk about how cartoonish the school is becoming, Jeff himself doesn't become a caricature of himself when he goes back to law world, when I imagine it would have been very easy for the writers to do just that and tell Joel McHale to set his d-bag levels to 11. He doesn't treat the study group especially badly; he just wants to hang out with lawyers again. And that low-key style made the emotional beats of the story feel more real, and then made the notion of placing the heartwarming climax at the Pop-and-Locktoberfest contest even sweeter, and funnier.

While Jeff was on a very human level, everyone around him got to push up against the cartoonishness he and Abed talked about. Pierce flips out when Alan bounces back the baldness insult, and later knocks over the champagne flutes. (Chevy + slapstick = funny. Almost always.) Everyone gets confused about whether people were impersonating Johnny Carson, Jon Stewart's impression of Johnny Carson, or Britta doing Stewart doing Carson. Ted weirdly has a hole in his hand, and drops a coin through it as a reward to the staff for never asking about it (and note the popping sound when he and Jeff shake hands later). And in my favorite bit of strangeness/hilarity, Annie chloroforms the janitor - twice! - while Troy runs around screaming and crying. (Donald Glover + crying = funny. Always always.)

I think I probably laughed a little more at the season premiere, but "Accounting for Lawyers" felt even more like the show "Community" is at its best.

What did everybody else think?

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  • Default-avatar

    JJ

    Annie, Troy and Abed's "plan" to all fake having been chloroformed, only for Annie to re-chloroform the janitor, was the funniest bit this show has done since coining the phrase "streets ahead."

    October 1, 2010 at 9:48AM EST
    • First comment! Perfect...cuz I was going to say the same. "But...who is she?? And...why does she have a cloth in her hand??"

      October 1, 2010 at 11:03AM EST
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      stan I loved when Annie starts crying and then goes to wipe her eyes with the chloroform rag before she realizes what it is. Plus we got Annie jiggling. Great episode for Brie.

      October 1, 2010 at 12:24PM EST
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    Jobin

    Is Troy Barnes the new Tracy Jordan? "Did you know that Go-Gurt is just yogurt?" That slayed me.

    October 1, 2010 at 9:48AM EST


  • The one thing I'm uncomfortable with is just how far over the top they're taking the Chang character with such limited motivation--"I want to get into the study group" is fine, but can we sustain 22 episodes of VERY over the top antics in that vein?

    October 1, 2010 at 9:52AM EST
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      SP Yes, yes we can.

      October 1, 2010 at 10:04AM EST
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      Rinaldo Reply to comment...

      October 1, 2010 at 10:29AM EST
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      Rinaldo (There's something about the "log in to reply to comment" process that is sometimes less than clear....)

      My own philosophy about such issues is, Why worry about something that may hypothetically happen if a certain thing hypothetically happens? Specifically, why let the possibility spoil my enjoyment of the very fun episode I'm watching right now?

      October 1, 2010 at 10:33AM EST
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      jenfullmoon I suspect that after this episode Chang is going to go full evil, actually. Ruh-roh....

      October 1, 2010 at 11:16AM EST
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      Ben Chang is a man who said that he ate his twin brother in Utero, and owns a ticking time paint-bomb. Now he's lost his job and never appeared to have any friends. I don't think it's out of character for him to be so hilariously obsessed with joining they're group. And besides dance for 5 straight hours in a pop-and-lockathon, he hasn't even done anything that crazy yet. I'm interested to see where they go with this and I doubt that he's gonna have a coyote trying to kill the roadrunner style c story in every episode.

      October 1, 2010 at 6:49PM EST
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      Harmony I felt bad for him in the last episode, he's becoming like the Trix rabbit or Wile E. Coyote, never getting what they want to the point you just feel bad for them.

      October 2, 2010 at 12:10AM EST
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    Bags

    Loved Chevy knocking over the glasses. Reminded me of when you first see him in Foul Play.

    October 1, 2010 at 9:56AM EST
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    Joe

    I find myself pining for more Troy whenever he isn't the focus. Donald Glover is a frickin star.

    Loved the Annie's Boobs gag (the actual boobs, not the monkey) and I must admit I was as guilty as Troy and Abed.

    I. LOVE. THIS. SHOW.

    October 1, 2010 at 9:56AM EST


  • Chevy and the champagne flutes was a reference to the similar scene in Foul Play.

    October 1, 2010 at 9:58AM EST
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    George

    I was outraged that they cholroformed the Janitor twice and...I've had enough of the moral panic round this blog this week, who cares and can Community ditch Chang's maniacal laugh, please?

    Pretty good episode, though I do think that The Office and 30 Rock have had stronger starts to the season, Community has retained a good level of quality.

    Abed's cartoon tunnel in the tag left me in stitches, but afterwards I was sure that the Dean would never allow him to do that.

    They actual storyline was kinda pointless, Jeff realising he wants friendship over 'cool', wasn't that the entire premise of the show's first season?

    October 1, 2010 at 9:58AM EST
  • Justified-fixer-4_talkback_profile

    conrad

    i knew it had to be 'rub purel on my brain' to lead-in. that was genius.

    great annie episode. i loved how she kept chloroforming people!!

    October 1, 2010 at 9:59AM EST
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    JB

    Dude...he dropped an olive through his hand.

    October 1, 2010 at 10:03AM EST
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    SP

    Best comedy on TV right now. Wow.

    October 1, 2010 at 10:03AM EST
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    Mary

    Was this the first time to have major scenes off campus? The first season took place almost entirely on campus-something I didn’t even notice until it was mentioned in the DVD commentary.


    Really funny episode, but with the ratings, I’m going to be worried all season that it’s going to get cancelled.

    October 1, 2010 at 10:09AM EST


  • I rewound Troy's crying dance where he jumped over the chloroformed janitor like 3 times. It's just as funny backwards, btw.

    October 1, 2010 at 10:12AM EST
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    Ed W

    Last season Brie's Annie became popular based on looks and charm but this episode she was truly hilarious.

    October 1, 2010 at 10:19AM EST


  • Kinda disappointed with this episode. The whole Jeff leaves the group, group gets upset, Jeff returns to the group, group hugs thing is getting a little tired.

    October 1, 2010 at 10:21AM EST
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      Bags I felt the same after he tells the group they aren't cool enough but things got out of control funny at the party and carried straight through to the end, totally redeeming itself. Overall a great episode.

      October 1, 2010 at 10:29AM EST
    • This is the *only* part of the show I didn't like. I feel like it's the same story being told over and over again, capped with a heartfelt Jeff speech at the end in almost every episode. I still think it's funny and I really love all the characters, but they need to move on with Jeff in that respect.

      October 1, 2010 at 11:24AM EST
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      Chrissy I doubt it's going anywhere. Jeff is in college expressly so that he can return to that world, and now he's possibly going to consult for them. I would expect more shenanigans as Mr. Winger's worlds collide.

      October 1, 2010 at 1:36PM EST
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    velocityknown

    "Did you know that Go-Gurt is actually just yogurt?"

    Man, Donald Glover is hilarious. Another great episode, look out for the new best comedy on TV. Its name is "Community".

    By the way I called the lead in for today's review as soon as I heard that line.

    October 1, 2010 at 10:26AM EST
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    jim

    I laughed harder at Abed and Troy's end-tag than I have in ages. If I'd been on the floor, I'd have been literally rolling on it.

    October 1, 2010 at 10:35AM EST
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      Col Bat Guano The look on Troy's face as he realizes the tunnel isn't real was priceless.

      October 1, 2010 at 12:02PM EST
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    David Thiel

    Thanks for using the picture of Chloroformin' Annie. Hilarious episode overall, but the chloroform gag was my favorite. (Especially when it appeared she was preparing to do the same to Jeff.)

    October 1, 2010 at 10:35AM EST
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      MadlyMild My favorite moment of the whole episode, and the pic I wish was used, was the third chloroform moment, when Annie gets that look on her face, and simultaneously seems like she doesn't even know that she's thinking it.

      October 1, 2010 at 9:47PM EST
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    Zach L

    Thoroughly enjoyed this episode, thought Cordry and Drew Carey were solid guest stars. Even enjoyed the hole in the hand gag. "Another man would have just worn a glove."

    Also agree with the other commenters about Donald Glover. He seems to have one or two lines every episode that damn near kill me. Looking forward to seeing how he does the rest of the season.

    October 1, 2010 at 10:36AM EST
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    Mark Weaver

    Loved it. The writers are geniuses at riding the line between drama and comedy.

    October 1, 2010 at 10:47AM EST
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    They left campus!

    That threw me for a loop. Every time they cut back to Chang at the dance competition it wrinkled my brain; I wanted the action to stay at the office party.

    Favorite bits of the night were both of Troy's "Let me explain"s. Donald Glover just standing frozen with his hand outstretched killed me.

    October 1, 2010 at 11:02AM EST
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    perimeterpost

    Troy's cry-(verb) is always comedy gold. Last season we had him cry-dancing with Chang in the lady pants suit, cry-watching Britta get spanked by his grandma, and cry-confessing when he tells Pierce that the robe and wand he's wearing isn't a Buddist robe but is from the theater dept. Best line- "Jeff said it made you look like the Cookie Crisp Wizard, which isn't even a reference I get. When I was a kid the Cookie Crisp mascot was a burglar!"

    Alison Brie still delivers the best facial reactions of anyone on TV. Go back and watch any episode and watch her reactions to the other characters. Brilliant.

    I like Britta a lot more this year, but I don't know why. Did she soften her look or something? I can't figure it out.

    I always love plenty of the Dean and Chang but they seemed a little off this episode, laughs wise.

    In the Season 1 finale when the Dean tells Jeff and Annie about the "Tranny Dance" Jeff say "How many dances does this place have?" and Dean tells him "Five."

    We're 2 episodes into season two and we've already had two dances. Will there be one next week too?

    October 1, 2010 at 11:14AM EST
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      jenfullmoon There's nothing to stop the Dean from having a dance every week. He is the dean, after all...

      October 1, 2010 at 11:17AM EST
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      Laurence Yo, just because the show airs every week doesn't mean the episode timeline is the same. There won't be an episode every week between the Halloween and the Christmas episode, but they'll each still be set at those times of year.

      October 2, 2010 at 9:11AM EST
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    jenfullmoon

    I liked this so much better than last week. It actually had some heart to it. Go figure.

    The Chang bit at the end was pretty creepy, though.

    October 1, 2010 at 11:18AM EST
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    Tony M

    My problem is that I think it's wrong that Abed and Sheldon are on opposite each other. There should be a government agency, say the Department of Cultural Preservation or the Society for Funny Obessives, that can order the networks to resolve this

    October 1, 2010 at 11:24AM EST
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    TEE1031

    Too many great lines & moments to pick just 1: Kanye & Kumar, gogurt=just yogurt, the sound the hand made, sweet Annie basically assaulting some1 all good stuff... Really funny and very sweet episode and as weird as the Chang story can be I'm actually pretty interested to see how far they will push him. Will he have a psychotic break ect... I trust the writers will do write and even if they go off kilter I think the other stuff is so enjoyable it won't matter.

    October 1, 2010 at 11:31AM EST
  • Tyroc_talkback_profile

    Tyroc

    By far the funniest show on TV right now. Even in an episode that goes heavier on the heart.

    The Abed stuff used to drive me bananas but I do feel they've toned it down and made him self-aware enough about it, that it works well now.

    October 1, 2010 at 12:00PM EST
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    srpad

    Yeah another winner that worked on every level.

    October 1, 2010 at 12:10PM EST
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    Jessie

    Loved the episode, but the whole "Chang is an a-hole/campy villain" thing is getting old...he's basically playing the same character he played in "The Hangover", only without an accent. If Ken Jeong isn't careful, he may venture into the territory of Jack Black and Will Ferrell--playing essentially the same character in every comedy, and that crap gets old reeeeal quick.

    October 1, 2010 at 12:16PM EST
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      Randomer Ken Jeong is a 41 year old, Asian character actor that's been in the business for what, three years. I highly doubt he's concerned about getting type-cast.

      October 1, 2010 at 3:18PM EST
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      Spinner Completely agree. He is a caricature of a caricature. Hopefully they will flesh out the character as the season goes on. I hope they don't string out the will he/won't he be allowed into the group all season. I just didn't think the payoff with him having danced for 5 hours was that great. I would have preferred more study group dancing or Chang at least getting to dance with the group.

      October 1, 2010 at 3:27PM EST
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      Greg I don't mind Chang being obsessive--he is, after all, insane much in the way Jane Lynch's Sue Sylvester is on "Glee", only Chang fits far more comfortably in this world.

      I think what people are responding to is that last episode's Chang break--the whole Gollum arguing with himself re-enactment--was epically awesome, but there wasn't enough this time--we needed to go *inside* Chang's head, possibly with a callback to the scene with that famous classical music. Him laughing on the floor just wasn't enough.

      October 2, 2010 at 9:32PM EST
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    Hannah Lee

    This episode had so many laugh out loud moments (many already mentioned here). I just got the S1 DVD's, and already, only 2 episodes in, I'm pretty sure I'm going to get the S2 DVD's 2, because I'm definitely going to want to watch this episode again and again.

    What seems to be really working for this show is that, while the group winds up in some outrageous situations (chloroforming a janitor during a breakin, competing in a Pop and Lock contest, etc), the real comedy comes from the characters being themselves in those situations (Annie's inability to restrain herself around mind-altering chemicals, Shirley's festering resentment of her ex's new wife, Britta's earnest attempts to be helpful and cool)

    Plus, I love to see this group dance - very fun. And the fact that they got disqualified with a group hug? On any other show that wouldn't have worked due to too much sappiness, but Community can pull it off.

    The ratings make me so sad (especially seeing Outsourced's ratings at 9:30. I'm sure Community could do as well there.) I'm hoping NBC just has low expectations for the 8pm slot and doesn't give up on Community.

    October 1, 2010 at 12:21PM EST
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      Matt Loving the series so much right now, and I am also worried about the ratings. Alan, is there any reason to fear lack of renewal for next year? Or is NBC aware of the challenge of BBT against Community, and also of the fans who adore Community (and with more numbers, I think, than shows like Arrested Development Firefly)?

      October 1, 2010 at 1:20PM EST
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    LJA

    Troy is stealing this show.

    October 1, 2010 at 12:22PM EST
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    Owen

    I never laugh out loud at tv, but I did at the Annie chloroform bit. That's probably the loudest I've laughed all year. Pure joy.

    October 1, 2010 at 12:27PM EST
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