Delivering on a whole lot of build up, this week’s Community had Jeff Winger at last face his father - and the accompanying abandonment issues that involved. On that score, I’d say the episode was pretty successful, though it was marred by an unnecessary B-story.
Casting James Brolin as William, Jeff’s dad, certainly worked, as he expertly conveyed the charming a-hole and, yes, the kind of guy who could be Jeff’s dad – as in a less endearing, less likeable Jeff. And I liked that after they had a bit of bonding, it was actually a pretty little thing that set Jeff off – as William dared to imply that maybe it was a good thing he abandoned his son.
Britta -- and only Britta (more on that in a second) -- being around for all of this on one hand was a bit odd, but also led to some good and funny moments, particularly her proclamation, “You two are probably feeling a strong impulse to sleep together, and that’s normal,” to the father and son. Though her interaction with Willie (Workaholics’ Adam Devine) had its ups and down, including the lameness of, “Show me on the dinner roll where you’re hurt!”
Overall though, this was a nice storyline and the Jeff/Britta interaction led to some very enjoyable moments, including his reaction to her saying there are no accidents (“Car accidents, Tara Reid or the Hindenburg?”) and a well done, mock-dramatic use of, “Britta’s the worst.”
All that being the case, it’s too bad the rest of the characters were stuck in a half-baked prison parody storyline. It just felt odd not to have them all together for Thanksgiving and I don’t quite understand why that wasn’t how it was done – with William joining the entire group for Thanksgiving, and Jeff still having it out with him.
Instead, it felt like a rather gratuitous Shawshank parody thrown into an episode where it didn’t really fit, punctuated by some very odd moments. (What was with Annie and Troy looking at Abed as though they could hear him narrating – even though he wasn’t speaking out loud?)
By the end, it seemed like the writers were almost admitting the prison thing was kind of just there, as Abed talked about wanting a better and more successful parody for Christmas… which I hope he gets.
Ultimately, “Cooperative Escapism In Familial Relations” didn’t all work, but it was a better episode than the last couple, which is good to see. And you have to enjoy not only giving Jeff some closure with his dad, but finally getting one of the longest-running character tics explained when Jeff admitted, “I’m constantly texting and there’s no one on the other end!”
That whole reveal about cutting himself to sell his appendix surgery to kids at school was pretty dark though!