Published on March 24th, 2015 | by Vyctoria Hart0
Community Season 6 Episode 2 “Lawnmower Maintenance and Postnatal Care” Review
We find things a little more settled and back to normal in this two strand episode of Community, or at least as normal as things get at Greendale. In one strand Dean Pelton has bought an incredibly 90’s virtual reality operating system for the school, in the other Britta is preparing to move in with Abed and Annie when she discovers all is not as it seems.
Although the two strands get similar amounts of airtime, the virtual reality segments mostly focuses on cheesy Lawnmower Man style graphics and Jim Rash (Dean Pelton) flailing around in a VR headset whilst Frankie and Jeff attempt to help him but mostly just look on embarrassed. However Britta’s strand offers some much needed development for a character that is so often reduced to just a joke about her incompetence or failed activism. When she arrives at Abed & Annie’s apartment she discovers that their new sofa bed was actually bought by her estranged parents. Not only that but they’ve also been paying off her debts to the other students and even inviting some of them to dinner. Britta is horrified at this betrayal and storms off to confront them. All though Britta has always described her parents as cruel and controlling when we meet Deb (Lesley Ann Warren – Mission: Impossible, Desperate Housewives) and George (Martin Mull – Roseanne, Arrested Development) they are charming and kind, explaining that they don’t remember the incidents she recounts so often, probably due to Woodstock, but that they only want to look after her now. They know they can’t reach out to her directly but do what they can via her friends and social media. After escaping on a child’s stolen big wheel Britta turns to Frankie who helps her realise that whilst the experiences of her childhood made her who she is, they don’t have to define her future. Or as Britta rather disturbingly puts it – “it doesn’t matter how mature we are or what resentments we carry, what really matters is that we’re all going to die!”
Meanwhile Jeff seeks out the creator of the virtual reality system, hoping to get the school’s money back and to remove the now megalomaniac Dean from the machine. He finds the inventor Elroy Patashnik (Keith David – The Thing, Platoon, They Live) living in a trailer, still insisting that VR is a valid and exciting technology, refusing to admit that the world has moved on and that no one else wants to “build worlds within worlds!” any more. Eventually he relents and frees the Dean in a sequence reminiscent of the final battle in Tron, expressing surprise that Pelton has become so deranged after only hours rater than weeks in the machine. As he leaves the campus, unsure what to do with his life now he has accepted that his work on virtual reality is no longer needed, the Dean reveals the power of the “Greendale Effect” by pointing out that they run a wide variety of courses drawing him back in. At this point Jeff realises that he’s never going to leave.
This was reasonably solid, standard episode, particularly for one that was broadcast immediately after the very self-aware, change-heavy season opener. Not much happens from an dramatic sense but there’s some good comedy and decent emotional development. The introduction of Keith David as the new season regular Elroy was promising, and I think his character should do well taking up the space left by Pierce/Buzz. Once again the show ended with a clip of something we’d like to see more of, in this case “Portuguese Gremlins”, a film Abed mentions earlier in the show and apparently produced entirely from papier-mâché and stereotypes. Sadly however, some elements fell flat, particularly Chang getting bitten by a cat in the opening sequence and then wandering into scenes through out the episode complaining about his gradually swelling hand. It didn’t add anything and just seemed like an excuse to fit the character into the episode, when it might have been more interesting to get his brand of bizarre behaviour into the VR storyline. This might be a symptom of the change from a 22 minute to 27 minute runtime, whilst that doesn’t sound like a huge change the episodes do feel slightly padded, as if the writers are naturally getting to 22 minutes, then having to extend from there. Hopefully that effect will settle down at the new format beds in and there will be more consistency in the rest of the season.