Community still struggles to find rhythm; The Office harvests a running story line

Community continued to try and find its rhythm, while The Office continued to plow uncharted fields.

On Community our gang was forced to split into pairs for biology class, a choice that proved much more difficult than it appeared. Really it was little more than an excuse to have a mini-bottle episode. The show is at its best when the characters are together bouncing off each other, and it worked well last night, culminating in a great moment for the random Todd who exclaimed, “You’re love is weird.” Great moment.

Though it worked as a main plot, it also reminded me that something is missing this year. Everything’s been on the surface, and we’re starting to see more caricature than character. I don’t think it’s a trend that will continue, but I can’t say that the first few episodes haven’t been a little disappointing either.

The best illustration of this is probably Chang. El Tigre is still the subject of the funniest scene in the show’s history, the machine gun battle in Modern Warfare. In season 2, Chang’s descent into madness was a nice runner, but it almost became a crutch as well. Crazy Chang became the goto source for livening up any plot or scene.

Now crazy Chang has become a refrain sung too many times. The detective subplot had a few funny moments, but it felt clumsy and didn’t really pay off. That’s because Chang is so bizarre that we have no way to empathize with him now. Chang’s insanity has become too predictable.

In fact, you can probably say that about most of the characters. Everyone needs to be a little less predictable, not in a random fashion of course. The best occurrence of unpredictability comes when a layer is peeled back and a new motivation uncovered. For example, consider the season 2 finale and Pierce’s speech before he left the group. That was a great moment and a welcomed character change.

In many ways The Office achieved something similar as well.

From a humor standpoint, The Office stuck to its comfort zone. There were a few decent scenes but nothing really stood out. The Andy/Darryl story was worth it though. Not only did Andy come into his own as a manager, but we learned a lot about Darryl last night as well.

It was a story that began brewing organically when Michael Scott left. The pay off was handled well, and could continue to bear fruit for some time. Moving from the warehouse to the office was a career boost for Darryl, but he squandered it. How will Darryl’s career path continue?

It’s a question that will have to be applied to Dwight in the near future as well.


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