After an unfortunate and unwelcome mid-season hiatus, Community is back with the second-half of it third season. "Urban Matrimony And The Sandwich Arts" was an intentionally "normal" episode of the comedy, which reminded me of its first season—back when the show was at least trying to draw that big mainstream audience, instead of tailor itself to the whims and desires of the hardcore geek crowd. I enjoy both sides of Community's psyche, but appreciate it when the show takes a step back from gimmickry and focuses on more everyday stories.
This episode's focus on Shirley's (Yvette Nicole Brown) wedding was a nice idea, and gave the often underused Brown some lovely moments. It was particularly amusing to discover that Britta (Gillian Jacobs) is a natural born wedding planner and flower arranger; to see another example of Jeff's (Joel McHale) fear of commitment rear its ugly head; and to watch Pierce (Chevy Chase) turn himself into a serious entrepreneur (with dyed hair), to help Shirley promote her sandwich business to the Dean (Jim Rash). Pierce's "trouser bench" sequence was possibly the highlight of the show ("will someone please call all the ambulances?")
Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi) also took a break from their crazy lives, typified with an unseen trip to their homemade "Dreamatorium" (i.e. their Star Trek-style holodeck for the imagination), and spent a large chunk of their day trying to be normal. Interesting that being "normal" was leading to Abed scoring a date with a hot blonde at Shirley's wedding party, until Troy lured him back with Inspector SpaceTime quotes. Are we supposed to be happy or sad that Troy/Abed are almost certainly sheltering themselves from a more "normal" existence that includes dating girls?
A good episode, if not quite as laugh-out-loud hilarious or inventive as Community can be. But this was probably a good episode for the show to come back with, as it may have felt more welcoming to any newcomers who decided to give Community a try—if only to get their badgering friends/family to stop singing the show's praises. I hope those people decide to come back, if only to give Community a much-needed bump in the ratings to secure a fourth season. Or will next week's episode be another wild and crazy extravaganza of in-jokes and nerdy references only a small minority of the audience will appreciate? At this stage in the show's life, does that even matter? Maybe it's for the best if Community simply plays to its strengths and speaks to its core fanbase, until whenever the curtain has to fall.
Who wants to be normal?
written by Vera Santamaria / directed by Kyle Newacheck / 15 March 2012 / NBC