2.2 Accounting For Lawyers
Back in class for the second episode of the new season, Community returns with Accounting For Lawyers, in which Jeff learns that he’s no longer a cold, unfeeling, reptile of a lawyer, Annie discovers a passion for chloroform and Senor Chang dances his little socks off. Bless.
Centered around the twin themes of Jeff’s lawyerly past, and a breakdance competition based on Oktoberfest (Pop and Locktoberfest), Accounting for Lawyers has the usual life lesson – keep your friends close and your enemies in your debt – something Jeff probably didn’t need to re-learn, all thanks to a mini-caper, the campest breakdancing ever broadcast and the stunning revelation that Pierce doesn’t have very much hair.
As predicted by Abed in the season opener, now that we’re in our second year at Greendale, it’s time to delve a little into our group’s backstories, and this week, it’s Jeff’s turn. The arrival of ex-colleague Alan at the college draws Jeff back into the world of back-stabbing and general evil that is criminal law; but wouldn’t you know it, Jeff’s NBF was in fact the guy who turned him and his fake law degree into the authorities.
Cue Jeff’s acceptance of the group’s part in his life, and much hugging. Happy endings all round, and it only took 22 minutes. Well, almost all round – poor Chang, who struck a deal to get himself into the group by winning the breakdance competition, is foiled again. Despite dancing for five hours, and Jeff and Abed doing the Puppet, the group loses the competition anyway – apparently hugging is not considered an official breakdance move. Poor El Tigre, will he never learn?
Smart, super funny and packed with the kind of throwaway lines that The Big Bang Theory would kill its grandmother for, (“Don’t sue the Stripper. She’s a stripper – life sued her and she lost.”) Community is an eminently watchable show, but it’s the little touches that make the most impact, and raise it from good to great.
For instance, the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it single tear rolling down Chang’s cheek as he daydreams of joining the group, or Troy’s total freakout after Annie chloroforms a Janitor during the commission of a felony – both hilarious asides that add depth to the already well-drawn characters.
Last week’s genius appearance of La White would have been hard to beat, and while the episode may have been Betty White-less, there was still plenty of talent in the cameo roles. Alan, or the Narc as he’s so beautifully labeled by Britta, is played with the usual wide-eyed fervor by Daily Show alum Rob Corddry and is the perfect antidote to Jeff’s obvious self satisfaction.
Joining Corddry in the guest-lawyer stakes is a svelte and not as funny as he used to be Drew Carey. Clearly, it takes two lesser comedians to match the White-standard. Carey, as the head of the law firm where Jeff used to work, and a man with a hole in his hand, is perhaps the low-point of the episode. If it wasn’t for the olive trick, his appearance would be near-forgettable. Luckily though, that doesn’t detract from the general excellence of the episode.
Community is a show that hit its stride early in the first season, and while the focus may have shifted slightly this year – less Abed, more capers – it’s a show that continues to hit that stride, with a confidence and warmth that’s hard to find anywhere else. Although it can get a little schmaltzy at times – see ‘all we need is each other’ – it never strays too far into Gray’s Anatomy territory.
Yes, happy endings and life lessons abound, but so do sarcasm, cynicism and the surreal. And while a stream of pop culture references may not be everyone’s idea of comedy, the balance is delicately and beautifully struck between the aforementioned references, visual gags, and the kind of general hilarity that everyone can get behind.
So far Community hasn’t missed a step, and if it keeps up the incredibly high standard it’s adhered to thus far, there’s classic potential here. Only time will tell, but for now, thank the broadcasting gods that we get to bask in the self-referential glow of some fantastic TV…
You can read Emma’s review of Community season two, episode one here.