After last week’s teaser, Community delivered a puppets concept episode. Although this season has never wanted to be Dan Harmon’s Community more, “Intro to Felt Surrogacy” is the most memorable and best episode of the season.
The key is the puppets breaking out into song. Largely the puppets themselves add little humor live-action acting wouldn’t have provided, but when added to singing it adds a comic element of surprise. Community’s dialog has felt so stretched this season, that in song it plays better. I am a fan of musicals enough that when a show uses the gimmick, from Buffy to South Park to previous episodes of Community, I’ll find it easy to enjoy.
“Intro to Felt Surrogacy” is tightly paced, moving into its puppets flashback quickly and restricting itself just to this story. The episode flew by. More jokes hit this episode than usual, such as Pierce claiming Jeff can marry any man he wants in international territory, Troy spotting the moose or telling his fire story and Dean had a strong episode, with a few funny Jeff obsession jokes.
The group standing up for Shirley is a nice moment, though the scene may have had more emotional meaning if the other group member’s secrets were as painful as hers, instead of comic devices.
As a criticism Community feels increasingly compelled to “explain” its pop culture references to audience members who may not get them, such as name-dropping Lost and Judge Judy after their use. This largely ruins the joke.
“Intro to Felt Surrogacy” is a charming concept episode for Community.