Community season 3 episode 12 review: Contemporary Impressionists

Emma urges audiences to tune in to Community after what could be the funniest episode of this season...


This review contains spoilers.

3.12 Contemporary Impressionists

Ever get the feeling the powers that be might actually be listening? After the fervent prayers featured in last week’s review, Team Community stormed back with an episode that had everything you could possibly wish for – and then some. I love it when a plan comes together…

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Set around Abed’s new-found addiction to acting out his favourite movie scenes with hired lookey-likeys, Contemporary Impressionists was ostensibly an excuse for fantastic pop culture referencing comedy, as well as some straight up comedy, and could well be in line for the coveted funniest episode of the season title. Ignoring the weird post-Xmas time warp, the premise, dialogue, visuals, and just about everything else – including, oddly, Pierce – was pitch perfect and the best possible advert for this fantastic show. 

After running up an enormous bill with the lookey-likey agency, run by French Stewart in perhaps his most convincing role ever, Abed has to pay up or lose his legs. The gang ‘volunteer’ to work off the debt at the world’s most Jewish Bar Mitzvah, dressed, with varying success, as black and white Michael Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Fat Brando, Jamie Lee Curtis, Judy Garland and Ryan Seacrest, and of course, hilarity ensues. Literally.

In keeping with Troy’s assertion that Abed’s new obsession is unspeakably awesome, the gang’s celebrity alter egos are similarly awesome, but not because they look good. In particular, Britta’s white Michael Jackson was inspired – frankly Britta has never been funnier, or more likeable than when walking backwards talking in a high pitched voice, or insulting Jeff in the most creative ways known to man. If, at some point, Britta did not make you laugh during this episode, you have no soul. The only unusual lookey likey choice was Abed as Jamie Lee Curtis. But that’s Abed for you. 

Of course, insulting Jeff is always good for a laugh, but this episode laid into him mercilessly, and it was joyous. This episode though also made the usually annoying isn’t Jeff great crowd funny as well. From the Dean’s orgasmic spasm at the sight of Jeff in aviators to the crowd of middle aged women at the Bar Mitzvah, all conspired to make Jeff even more ridiculous. Ok, there’s a chance the whole thing was also an excuse to get McHale semi-naked again, but as is so often the case, the journey was way more impressive than the naked. It is, however, surprising to discover that McHale suffers from a condition more commonly seen in sci-fi actors than comedians – the sudden arrival of the I’ve-lifted-so-many-weights-I-might-explode-the-next-time-I-sneeze look is always a worrying sign. And Britta’s right, it does make you look like you’ve got boobs.  What we’re saying is, you might want to lay off the weights is all. 

This being Community, there was way more going on than just some hilarious impressions. For instance, there was the lovely Community/Soup synergy with all the Seacrest digs, which work whether you watch The Soup or not, although if you don’t, you really should. But the real deal came in the form of several nods to the so-called inaccessibility of the show, where the writers could once again be seen to be both protesting and talking directly to their audience. Troy’s impassioned defence of Abed’s unspeakable awesomeness, slowly giving way to his acceptance that reality sometimes has to take precedence, and therefore slightly damaging the T&A bromance successfully avoided any heavy handedness, despite its allegorical nature, and was a lovely, and very real moment. Of course, it was then followed by Abed on his imaginary spaceship, talking to his imaginary evil twin about how inaccessible their conversation is. To paraphrase The Faculty’s equally awesome Zeke, Community is a contradiction, and like Zeke, all the better for it.

TV watchers of America, it’s up to you. Community’s survival depends on its audience, and much as we’d like to help, NBC doesn’t give a good god damn what the rest of the world thinks. We know you’re busy, it’s an election year, and the car needs a service, but it’s only 20 minutes. Watch the show, watch it a lot, make other people watch it, tweet about it, blog about it, shout about it if you have to, but do something. Because if you don’t, you won’t be seeing unspeakably awesome Abed, or walking-backwards-while-talking-in-a-high-pitched-voice Britta much anymore. And you definitely won’t get to witness Jeff’s impending explosion.  And you know you want to. Otherwise, get comfy looking at Johnny Galecki. 

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Read our review of last week’s episode, here.

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