Community – “Intro To Felt Surrogacy”
When Dan Harmon left Community, I told myself that I wouldn’t let his absence affect my enjoyment of the show. But if my thoughts on the season 4 premiere and most of the season (I certainly wasn’t the show’s biggest supporter for those first several weeks) were any indication, I clearly let it get to me. Those episodes just felt like a cheap imitation of Community, episodes that tried too hard to capture the another man’s vision and never searched for its own voice.
So when I learned of the premise for “Intro To Felt Surrogacy,” I went into the episode fully expecting to be disappointed. And initially I was. The puppet gimmick just seemed like another instance of the show grasping at straws, desperately trying to tell its fans, “See, we’re still the same wacky bunch that pushes the boundaries of what the show is about!” But it wasn’t the same show, and that was my mistake I made on my initial watch.
This is a show that has redefined itself so many time that it’s become difficult to say just what makes an episode of Community “an episode of Community.” So with that in mind, I set about my rewatch. And I ended up loving “Intro To Felt Surrogacy.” The episode continues the trend of this season’s steadily increasing quality, and I’m certain it will go down as one of the most memorable episodes in the series.
I’d long maintained that Parks and Recreation doesn’t need laughs to create a great episode, that the feeling of happiness that it manages to instill in me is a major criteria for how I receive each episode. And “Intro To Felt Surrogacy” makes a strong case for being judged on that same criteria, because it manages to have something that was missing from even many of the Harmon episodes: heart.
This episode was cute, like stupidly cute, but for me it never crossed that line into sappy, although it definitely flirted with the idea. Maybe it was because it brought back fond childhood memories of watching Sesame Street, but after my second watch I just couldn’t stop smiling. Or maybe it was because of how darn catchy those songs were.
The hot air balloon song was especially sweet and almost had me breaking out in song along with the gang; plus, the addition of Sara Bareilles was delightful. And Jason Alexander’s appearance led to a bouncy little number that quickly evolved into a berry-induced trance. I’m a total sucker for musically-themed episodes and shows, so I should have expected that this would have been a major selling point of the episode for me.
But the most important part of the episode comes at Shirley sharing her secret leading to the rest of the group revealing their dark secrets. The song that follows is one of the most emotionally raw and genuine moments the show has ever attempted, a moment that is made more moving by the stirring number.
How fitting that this is the episode in which Community finds its voice again.
- I had no idea the Community cast was so musically inclined. They all sounded really good.
- The end tag was so much fun and served as a good reminder of why I initially gravitated towards this show.
- I wonder if this is how the show is going to write out Chevy Chase, with Pierce having gone mad in the woods. (This episode was filmed after Chase had quit the show, but I’m glad he was brought back for this one.)
- What was going on with Jeff’s hair this episode?
- “Fine, if we’re going to play this game then, unlike sex with Britta, we’re going to do it quickly and with a small shred of dignity.”
- “Has anyone else noticed Professor Duncan hasn’t been around for a long time.”
- “I did see Blue Man Group, I just didn’t get it. Why can’t they talk? They have so much in common.”