Community: “App Development and Condiments” Review
"Community" takes on ‘70s Sci-Fi… and a ton of guest stars.
Note: The following review goes into detail about the episode. SPOILER ALERT!
After two weeks of split storylines for the main cast, the study group was finally back at the table this week as “Community” embarked on one of its more ambitious episodes yet. Plus, there were more guest stars than I think I’ve ever seen in a half-hour comedy. It’s also noteworthy that Dan Harmon’s Channel 101 collaborator, Rob Schrab, directed this episode (if you haven’t heard of Channel 101, go google it and get ready to laugh. I’ll wait here.)
The story kicks off with Jeff arguing that Shirley often guilts people into being nice to her before the Dean informs the group that app developers (played by guest stars and “The Sarah Silverman Program” alums Steve Agee and Brian Posehn) will be testing their new app “MeowMeowBeenz” on campus. The app allows users to rate any interaction they have with their friends, leading Greendale to immediately begin battling each other in order to raise their amount of MeowMeowBeenz and achieve social success. This quickly evolves into a hierarchy based on the number of beans they have, with 5s living a lavish lifestyle and controlling the school, 4s providing entertainment, 3s being the middle class and so on. This ended up being a great nod to ‘70s Sci-Fi films like Logan’s Run or even classic Star Trek as each rank wore different clothes and supported different dynamics. Of course, Shirley’s friendliness and constant guilt trips quickly got her a spot as a 5, and Jeff made it his goal to attain the same status and use his new-found social power to denounce her for her guilt-giving ways.
Jeff’s journey from new user to 5 was quite hilarious, showing him at first bonding with the most stereotypical frat boys (complete with sunglasses and backwards hats) to get higher rankings. He then plays politics as a 4, assisted by none other than guest stars Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim of “Tim & Eric Awesome Show” as he prepared for a talent show that could catapult him to 5 status. The other characters’ reactions to the new order were also fantastic. Professor Hickey proclaimed, “MeowMeowBeenz is going to make East Berlin look like Woodstock” and donning a birthday hat in hopes that “no one will downvote a guy on his birthday.” Abed’s scenes were also enjoyable, showing him modestly wishing to remain a 3 but constantly being upvoted. Britta had a large part to play, with the group realizing that her speeches actually made sense when she had mustard on her face and her using that fact to stage an anti-MeowMeowBeenz revolution.
However, the breakout star of this episode was undoubtedly the fifth (yes, fifth!) guest star, “Arrested Development” creator Mitchell Hurwitz as Koogler, a member of the 5s and Greendale’s very own sly party animal. Always appearing surrounded by woman and spouting “Animal House”-worthy catchphrases (“The Koog approves!”), Hurwitz immediately felt at home in the show’s extended cast, and I was laughing almost every time he was on screen. Of course, all of that led up to Jeff’s promotion to a 5 and confrontation with Shirley, which delivered some decent character moments, but unfortunately not much else. Although it’s all made up for by the excellent ending where Britta’s revolution raids the 5s’ room and ends with her putting on a Nuremberg-style trial for the ruling class.
Overall, this was an excellent return to form for “Community” that delivered in all the ways you wanted it to. The bevy of guest stars all did great work (if you ever wanted to see the “Community” cast, Tim & Eric and the creator of “Arrested Development” all in the same universe, here you go). The emotional moments were decent, but the humor more than picked up the slack with the ridiculous premise allowing the entire cast to get some great moments in. And how awesome was the trailer for that ‘80s style comedy starring Koogler in the end tag? The Koog very much approves.
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