Saturday, 3 December 2011

COMMUNITY, 3.9 – "Foosball & Nocturnal Vigilantism"

Saturday, 3 December 2011

It's rare for an episode to have two subplots I enjoy, if not equally. "Foosball & Nocturnal Vigilantism" saw Jeff (Joel McHale) being irritated by rowdy German students playing foosball, leading to him challenging them at a game and being trained by Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown), who's secretly a foosball virtuoso. Elsewhere, Annie (Alison Brie) accidentally broke Abed's (Danny Pudi) precious $300 limited edition copy of The Dark Knight, but decided to blame the accident on a burglary she staged. But that only made matters worse when Abed decided to dress as Batman (complete with Christian Bale-style growl) and begin a one-man investigation of the crime his housemate's guilty of.

While I much preferred the storyline with Jeff and Shirley (a pairing the show rarely has fun with, to its great shame), both stories kept me entertained and nothing about either plot flagged. There's something inherently amusing about taking trivial games so seriously (especially by uber-serious Germans), and this episode had fun with the idea that being skilled at foosball really means something. It was also unexpected and brilliant to discover that Shirley and Jeff had actually met as children—back in the days when Shirley was a big-headed foosball whiz known as "Big Cheddar" and Jeff was a challenger she made wet his pants during a game. It was a clever way to show how those two characters have changed through the years, despite similar starts, and the episode ended on a note of triumph with the two friends rising above their horrid childhood encounter.

Overall, this was one of the better episodes of Community this season, without being so reliant on extreme gimmickry (allowing for the moment when Shirley and Jeff were transformed into '80s anime characters during a tense foosball game). With no noticeably padding to the stories, no weak parallel subplot (or lazy excuse to unnecessarily involve Britta and Pierce), "Foosball & Nocturnal Vigilantism" did what it aimed to do neatly and brilliantly.

Funny, touching and witty.


  • I doubt you haven't heard, but NBC are putting Community on indefinite hiatus after next week's episode. It's not on their mid-season schedule, but hasn't been officially cancelled. It's like the remaining season order will be broadcast next spring. Will the show be axed by summer? Perhaps, but it's far from certain.
  • I've always found it strange that Americans call table tennis "ping pong" and table football "foosball". They're certainly more imaginative names.
written by Chris Kula / directed by Anthony Russo / 1 December 2011 / NBC