I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving! Oh wait, it’s March. Yes, the broadcast delay for this season of ‘Community’ strikes with a vengeance in last week’s Thanksgiving-themed episode, ‘Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations’. Jeff chooses to face his father with Britta in tow, while the others go off to Shirley’s house, as they assume it must be better than being with their own families.
Jeff actually chooses to not face his father, but Britta shows up unannounced, forcing him to go in after her. The dad, William Winger (James Brolin, continuing this season’s trend of smart cameo casting), is saddled with a whiny brat of a second son, Willy (the semi-unbearable Adam DeVine). At first, Jeff and William seem to get along well, but when William suggests that his absence was beneficial, Jeff loses it.
Meanwhile, Abed, Troy, Annie and Pierce go to Shirley’s for Thanksgiving, only to find her extended family even worse than their own. They hide away in her garage, and Abed narrates a ‘Shawshank Redemption’ pastiche. Frankly, this entire plot is a drag, with barely any good jokes. The ‘Shawshank’ references feel aimless and do nothing to elevate the material. Even Annie faking female trouble doesn’t go anywhere.
The Jeff/William storyline is better developed, although still not particularly funny. However, Adam DeVine derails the proceedings with his endless bleating and whining. He’s not helped by Britta, who eggs him on throughout the episode. Jeff’s eventual confrontation with his father is a good moment, and a long time coming, but it feels like too little too late.
This is perhaps the least funny episode of ‘Community’ I’ve seen in a long time. Too many of the jokes fall flat, while the emotional sequences are undercut by the hammy overacting of Adam DeVine. Next week is Christmas (hope you got presents for everyone!), which ‘Community’ usually delivers on, but the more this season goes on, the less hope I have for it.