A review of tonight's "Community" coming up just as soon as I commit a third sin...
When I wrote my story for Sunday's paper about TV shows that do and don't label characters as having Asperger syndrome, a few of you asked why Abed wasn't included. Part of that was simply a function of space - only so many inches in the paper, and Abed's on a much less well-known show than "Big Bang Theory" or Bones" - but part of it was that, other than the "ass burgers" joke from the pilot, Abed has seemed more TV-quirky than specifically Aspie. Dan Harmon talked about this a bit in Jace Lacob's own story about Hollywood tackling autism, and said, "I want my characters to be my characters, with rules that I create, based on my life experiences, not rules set forth in someone else's manual."
That's an entirely reasonable approach, and it's one that allows the show to do an episode like "Physical Education," in which Abed is shown to be far more together and sure of himself than any of his well-meaning friends, and to have a perfect understanding of human relationships, even if others don't recognize that at first. The idea of a character who has so much self-esteem and natural talent that he can be anything he wants is pretty cool, and so far the show has been careful not to take it too far and turn Abed into Fonzie.
It was a really nice, sweet Abed story - once again, this show that allegedly leans so much on irony and meta references has no problem finding and showing its heart - and one where Danny Pudi still got to inject some humor with his makeup-enhanced portrayal of Joey (aka White Abed).
And the existence of White Abed (who thinks of Abed, of course, as Brown Joey) was one of several surreal touches in an episode that was frequently content to go for broke and embrace the crazy.
Jeff's half-naked, then all-naked game of pool with the uptight phys ed teacher was completely gonzo. I thought I was laughing hard enough when the soundtrack started using Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" (which accompanied this similar, iconic Tom Cruise scene from "The Color of Money"), but when the coach ripped off his underwear and let out a primal scream, and then Jeff followed suit, I completely lost it. No real logic to any of it, but there are times when you have to sacrifice plausibility for the sake of a really ridiculous, funny, extended sight gag.
And the rest of the episode was filled with other great jokes, like the runner about the rest of the study group understandably mocking "I lived in New York"er Britta for her pronunciation of "baggel," or Shirley and Troy needing every pop culture reference translated into its black equivalent, or one of the best Abed/Troy tags to date, with their Bert and Ernie impression interrupted when Troy remembers he's supposed to be at a funeral. Like the naked pool thing, there was no point to it, but it was silly and really damn fun.
The show can't be this strange every week, but every now and again it works.
What did everybody else think?