Smooth Sailing in NBC’s Waters

Episode Commentary: Beginner Pottery

Perhaps Jeff (Joel McHale) is not so infallible, after all. He’s two-for-two this week after being dumped by Professor Slater (Lauren Stamile) in “Basic Genealogy,” and now being utterly horrible at beginner pottery, his “ultimate blow-off class,” where you get an art credit just for participation.

Of course, Jeff’s own shortcomings in this particular course come as no obstacle until Rich, a classmate (and practicing physician) who looks and acts suspiciously like his former, law degree-possessive self – except that Rich is absolutely fantastic at pottery, and Jeff is terrible.

This may not be the first time that Winger’s competitive streak reared its ugly head, as noted by a voiceover by Abed (Danny Pudi), but it is the most intense.

The alpha attorney is determined to prove the doctor’s duplicity and does not hesitate to sleep in the study room (only for a few hours) to dig up any potential dirt.

Meanwhile, Pierce (Chevy Chase) invites the remainder of the gang – sans Annie (Alison Brie), who’s in the pottery class with Jeff and Abed – to join him for a sailing course in the school’s parking lot, since the nearest body of water is over two-and-a-half hours away. (Though Pierce is quick to assert that water is not measured by hours.)

The professor is quick to appoint Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) Captain and Pierce is almost immediately thrown overboard, leading one of the more memorable scenes on this sitcom thus far. They’re headed into a perfect storm and Shirley bravely commands that they do not have time. Troy (Donald Glover) solemnly questions, “What in God’s name have we done” and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) looks on in mournful shock.

Star-Burns (Dino Stamatopoulos) doesn’t seem affected one way or another.

Surprisingly enough, this led to one of the sweeter and authentically heartwarming moments of the season.
“Community” has an interesting way of balancing outright silliness with genuinely uplifting moments. When Shirley states that the sea may be a harsh and cold mistress, but she isn’t; and the ship may go down, but at least it’ll go down with honor, it almost feels touching – in a decidedly (and intentionally) campy way.
The characters are becoming legitimately endearing. Jeff’s crazy-eyed quest to discover Rich’s flaws not only adds additional depth to his character, but also creates a dimension of pathos, as strange as that may seem for a show like “Community.”

We’ll see if this development is continued with next week’s “The Science of Illusion,” as the Greendale campus is swept up by April Fool’s Day .

About Olga Privman 132 Articles
I spent a good decade dabbling in creating metaphysically-inclined narrative fiction and a mercifully short stream of lackluster poetry. A seasoned connoisseur of college majors, I discovered journalism only recently through a mock review for my mock editor, though my respect for the field is hardly laughable. I eventually plan to teach philosophy at a university and write in my free time while traveling the world, scaling mountains and finding other, more creative ways to stimulate adrenaline. Travel journalism, incidentally, would be a dream profession. Potential employers? Feel free to ruthlessly steal me away from the site. I’ll put that overexposed Miss Brown to shame.

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