Community Season 1, Episode 9: "Debate 109" - Review

As we've seen before, when there's a crisis at Greendale Community College, only Jeff can solve it. First, he had to defend Britta against allegations of cheating, then he had to convince Troy to join the football team under orders from the Dean. And two weeks ago, his presence at the annual Halloween party was the difference between a success and a bust. This week, Annie's debate partner dropped out and it was up to Jeff to get back in the saddle that was his former life as a lawyer and help Greendale bring home a victory.

In all honesty, I was hoping for more out of the debate scenes. The hyper-intense jump cuts, close-ups and powerful background music successfully and humorously turned the atmosphere of a benign college activity into that of a gritty football playoff game. However, Jeff's arguments (and his jokes) just weren't there. In arguing the side of "Man Is Evil," his tactic of leading the gathered crowd in a rendition of ELO's "Evil Woman" didn't work on any level. In the episode, the judge gave him a zero and at home, I didn't crack a smile.

The only surprising turn of events was the budding attraction between Jeff and Annie. Given Jeff's history with Britta and Annie's history with Troy, I'm not sure how I feel about this development. But it served its purpose for one episode and we'll see if they go anywhere with it.

Perhaps the weirdest, most entertaining story was Abed's continued foray into filmmaking. In an earlier episode ("Introduction to Film"), we saw an emotional, yet clinical recreation of his rocky relationship with his demanding father, using his classmates as stand-ins. It was our first peek behind the curtain of Abed's character and proof that he wasn't just a robot filled with knowledge of pop culture.

But things went from sublime to ridiculous with Abed's new film series: "The Community College Chronicles." These films were shot-for-shot remakes of his life at Greendale, complete with lookalike actors recreating scenes we'd actually seen before on previous episodes of Community. The idea got very amusing when, on more than one occasion, the actors in his film and his real-world classmates spoke the same line simultaneously. Everyone was admittedly freaked out that Abed could predict the future, only his excuse was that he simply knew his classmates better than they thought. That didn't fly with Shirley - she thought he was an evil wizard. The running gag was surprisingly effective throughout the episode, climaxing in a hilarious tag - a very meta remake of Abed and Troy's famous "Spanish Rap" from the episode, "Spanish 101," this time using the lookalikes from his films.

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