Community Season 4 Review “Intro to Felt Surrogacy”

Community returned tonight with the best episode of the season thus far, and definitely the first “Big idea” episode that we’ve had all season: “Intro to Felt Surrogacy”. In seasons past on Community we’ve seen all kinds of great episodes like this one, including everything from paintball spaghetti westerns to Law and Order send-ups and everything in between, but we’ve never seen any involving puppets. Until tonight!

There was a lot of hype and anticipation going into tonight’s episode, including what I believe to be the very first “Next week on Community” teaser in the tag of the previous episode, so my expectations were very high. I, like Abed, am also a big fan of the puppet medium, so I was very excited to see one of my favorite comedy shows tackle it. What resulted was a very successful and heartwarming episode, despite the fact that there really weren’t too many laughs to be had.

The plot of the episode was simple enough, as the Dean decides to use some therapy puppets to get the study group to reveal their secrets to one another and hopefully get them out of their funk. This causes the group to recreate a recent trip they made to the woods, but only in puppet form!

The actual puppet work was a lot of fun, and the plot was serviceable enough, but the songs and the guest stars really put the episode over the top. Singer Sara Bareilles guested as the hot air balloon guide, and her pretty voice and bubbly personality worked perfectly with the theme of the episode. Jason Alexander was a much more surprising addition as the transient mountain man and Greendale alum, but he worked just as well as a guest star.

I expected some goofy puppet jokes and colorful songs in this episode, but what I didn’t expect was all of the heartwarming interaction between the study group. I loved that everybody chose to share their pretty big secrets, with Jeff and Shirley’s secrets being the biggest, and it really helped soften the blow that they were delivering all of these secrets as cute little puppets!

The episode itself wasn’t necessarily very funny, but it isn’t like every episode of the series needs to have tons of laughs. Donald Glover has been the best part of the season thus far, and he didn’t disappoint tonight. I loved how he kept interacting with his puppet, as he would close its mouth when it opened and nudge it when it was falling asleep. I think it says a lot that I laughed more in the bloopers and behind-the-scenes footage they showed during the tag than I did in the whole episode.

With only four episodes left in the season, and possibly in the whole series, it’s a very strong possibility that this is the last “Big idea” episode we’ll ever get. If that’s true, then I’m actually OK with it. An episode this emotional and well put together is a great way to remember Community, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Random Thoughts:

– Overall the puppets weren’t very detailed or great looking, but I did love that Jeff’s puppet had eyebrows that would raise individually as he spoke.

– We haven’t had any other mention of Professor Cornwallis since he first appeared in episode four of this season, so I liked that Annie’s puppet revealed that she let him rub her feet to get an A. We’ll see Cornwallis again next episode, though! Hooray!

– I loved Pierce referencing the great season three episode “Remedial Chaos Theory” when saying that he never actually slept with Eartha Kitt, instead they just dry-humped on her tour bus.