Who doesn’t love a good puppet show? The good thing about Thursday night’s “Community” is that for only maybe the second or third time since the new regime took over, we had a risky half hour of television … which of course meant that we were in store for potentially even greater rewards.
By and large, we do feel like this half-hour ultimately lived up to its potential. There were some great laughs, the closest thing the NBC show has ever seen to Muppets, and also guest-starring appearances from Jason Alexander and Sara Bareilles. There was also a very powerful scene for Yvette Nicole Brown; after being forced to play Shirley one way almost all season long, her secret regarding a man who looked like Andre was yet another reminder of how great an actress she can be if given the right material. (None of the other secrets were particularly that shocking.)
The biggest qualm we have with this whole ordeal is a pretty simple one: the show either relying too much or forgetting about the show’s history. For one, why was Britta’s puppet such a better singer than she was? While we are sure that it was not going to be particularly pretty, we would have preferred some consistently with the season 3 Christmas special. Meanwhile, the show really has to dial it back with the whole “Dean Pelton loves Jeff” bit. In season 1, this was just a random little thing that would happen from time to time to give the show that much more of a creative punch; now, it pretty much defines the Dean, and we lose some of his other funny aspects of his personality in the process.
It was interesting that in this episode, you could tell that it was the beginning of the end for Chevy Chase. The actor’s voice could still be heard in the episode itself, but the character of Pierce Hawthorne was not present in the actual scenes. Was the tension already starting between him and the rest of the folks on set? We’re betting on it.
What did you think about the “Community” puppet show: was this a fun experiment, or did you think that it was all substance, and no heart? If you want to check out some early details on the finale, you can do so over here.