This week’s Community, “Laws of Robotics & Party Rights” (now available on Yahoo! Screen) finds Greendale College enrolling a bunch of prisoners. The convicts don’t actually set foot on campus. Instead, they are allowed to attend via iPad-attached-to-motorized-wheels for remote commuting. This seems like a good idea, but as one might expect, trouble soon begins brewing at the community college.
Community makes good use of weird things, and the telecommuting robots are a prime example of this. The school takes a very offbeat, but likely realistic, task for this technology, and then turns it into a story about a bullying murderer, Willy (Brian Van Holt, Cougar Town), who feuds with Jeff (Joel McHale), trying to kill him at one point, and being “killed” by Jeff in return.
Now, the way this shakes out, finding out that Willy is actually innocent, actually makes no sense given how he tries to push Jeff down the stairs. But one might argue that Willy is just having fun, and the absurdest, would-never-work assassination attempt is a great sight gag, so I can’t bring myself to tear down the episode because of it. Van Holt is equally believable as a cold-blooded killer and as a prankster.
More importantly, this plots allows “Laws of Robotics & Party Rights” to give us another look at Jeff in a semi-dramatic fashion. The past couple of seasons have delightfully started to delve into what makes Jeff tick, and this episode is no different. We see Jeff has become as much of a slacker as a teacher as he was a student or lawyer, playing Planet Earth videos during his law class. Willy makes him feel guilty about that, though, as evidenced by the strong reaction Willy provokes in him. Will Jeff become a better professor after this incident? I’m not sure, but he very well might. Concerning Community‘s most central player, any time Jeff is analyzed a bit is very welcome.
Having Van Holt play Willy is great because Abed (Danny Pudi) is obsessed with Cougar Town, which Van Holt co-starred in, and the series just came to an end last week on TBS. There have been other Cougar Town peeps pop up in Community episodes, and Abed made a cameo in that show, so its nice to see the connection continue.
While Jeff deals with this, Britta (Gillian Jacobs) wants to throw a party in the apartment, but Annie (Alison Brie) says no. Britta can’t get Abed to outright overrule Annie, but she does trick Abed by getting him to make a movie about a party, which ends up backfiring horribly. In the end, Britta must beg Annie to make it stop, Annie being the only one who understands how to influence Abed.
“Laws of Robotics & Party Rights” highlights how Abed’s antics have become toned down. In the early years of Community, Abed’s delusions are brought to the forefront in big ways. Now, Abed making a party happen continuously for days, which only a few bits of are shown, seems downright tame. This reflects the show’s more grounded direction and the growth of Abed into a functioning human being. I miss the old Abed, but I applaud the writers and Dan Harmon for understanding that change must happen and matching the most eccentric character to the other things going on in the program.
Besides these major plots, there are some great jokes, Elroy (Keith David) still being used for some clever racial commentary, and The Dean (Jim Rash) being as dean-y as ever. It’s a pretty solid installment for the sixth season, and is entertaining on its own.
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