Anti-drug messages on TV tend to be “very special episodes” that drastically depart from the show’s style and tone in order to tell kids that “hey, drugs are bad.”  But “Community” rarely plays by the same rules other TV shows do, and although there is an anti-drug message here it never feels “special” thanks in large part to screaming men in clown wigs and inappropriate text messages. Intrigued? Read on to find out the details.

The Players:

Episode Title: “Celebrity Pharmacology”

The study group is putting on an anti-drug performance at Annie’s request, and Pierce (playing the part of drugs) is annoyed because he has no lines. He later finds out that Annie desperately needs money, and writes her a check so he can get a better part…although in typical Pierce fashion, he ends up going crazy with all the power and attention he’s getting. Meanwhile, Jeff sends a sexy text message on Britta’s behalf only for it to go horribly, horribly wrong. Annie has to figure out what to do as Pierce is making drugs look cool, while Jeff desperately tries to resolve his mistake.

The Good:

  • This is Your Chang on Drugs: Once again, Ken Jeong puts together an amazing performance and despite the fact that he has relatively little screen time, he totally steals the show. This time around he’s acting as “drugs gone bad” in the group’s anti-drug production, and he manages to deliver the message perfectly while also being completely insane – and completely hilarious.  His subsequent pummeling by 50 angry kids and his post-trauma confusion only make the punchline (no pun intended) better.
  • Independence Day: But “Community” isn’t only about wacky characters doing goofy things, it’s about exploring its characters’ psychoses. We’re given a fairly straightforward backstory about Annie’s life (which conveniently explains why she lives in such a bad neighborhood) and then she’s forced to choose between being dependent on Pierce or striking out for her own, while simultaneously making the play to tell kids not to depend on drugs.  It’s a credit to the show that it never handles this ham-handedly; we never feel like we’re being preached to, even when a screaming Chinese man literally tells us the point.

The Bad:

  • Let’s Talk About Sext: This week’s sideplot feels like it was taken out of an old Three’s Company episode and updated to include modern technology. Admittedly, Jeff accidentally seducing Britta’s nephew via texting seems like it could be an interesting way to generate comedy, but only if Britta finds out about it.  Instead, the show quietly sweeps the whole thing away before any conflict is raised, and Jeff learns absolutely nothing. Speaking of which, wasn’t he supposed to be learning the zen of niceness from Rich? Guess that didn’t go so well.
  • LOL DILDOS: The insinuation that Annie lives above a sex shop called Dildopolis was a pretty good one-liner gag, especially when it turned out it was actually true, and the idea of waking up in the middle of the night because the sex shop was having a 2 AM sale seems like it has a lot of potential. But instead of finding a funny way to exploit this premise, they just had an announcer talk about dildos for 30 seconds. It’s extra annoying because the post-credits short is usually pretty good by itself, and this one totally failed to deliver.

The Quotable:

  • “Does marijuana make people work faster? I thought it just made them custom-paint their vans and solve mysteries.”
  • “You don’t count, Britta – you don’t respond to anything appropriately.” “Thank you!”
  • “Dean-dong!”
  • “I don’t know who you’re talking about.” “Chang!” “I know who you’re talking about, he doesn’t exist.”
  • “There’s a rapist in the hallway!” “That’s my landlord, and if he wanted you to be raped, you’d be raped.”
  • “What are you doing in an apartment above Dildopolis… and when did they open a second location?”
  • “I found the drapes in a dumpster, can you believe it?” “Ha… yes.”
  • “OK guys, remember: The most important thing is to have fun! The second most important thing is to know all your lines and all your blocking and not mess up at all. Actually, flip those.”
  • “You can’t ignore me forever.  …OK, you probably can.”
  • “What does this symbol mean? It’s like a number 8 and then an = sign and then a >”
  • “He sent her an emoto-penis.”
  • “Well that answers my question; Jeff Winger is sexy even in a coffin.”
  • “We’re independent! We need each other!”
  • “I’m gonna deep fry your dog and eat your momma’s face! And I’m gonna wear your little brother’s skin like pajamas!”

Overall:

Although the side stories were uneven and disappointing, the main plot of this week’s episode was more than engaging enough to keep us watching. The Chang performance is a must-see scene.

Rating: 8/10

New episodes air Thursdays at 8 PM on NBC!

Photo Gallery:

What did you think of this week’s episode of Community?