CliqueClack TV

Community – Does the show even need Pierce?

It's all-out war on 'Community' this week. Some of it even happens in the episode itself.

- Season 3, Episode 14 - "Pillows and Blankets"

If any publicity is good publicity, then Community should definitely be getting their six seasons and a movie. After the whole Dan Harmon/Chevy Chase kerfluffle this week, it was difficult to watch this episode without concentrating a little more on Chevy Chase than usual. The fact that the entire episode was a war that pit different members of the study group against each other was entirely appropriate. It showed that Pierce had no side; he went back and forth until he was just forgotten about completely.

Troy and Abed are the power couple of the show. Jeff, Annie and Britta periodically have weird love triangle dynamics, and Shirley’s the mother of the group; the voice of sanity cutting through the sound of bickering children. Pierce, on the other hand… well, he made a pretty good pillow monster. Of course, that could have been anybody.

In a cast of largely unknowns, getting Chevy Chase to do his first sitcom gig was a coup. I remember previewing Community before it premiered and being specifically interested in it because of him. Pierce started out as a fun character too; a foil for the younger generation. However, as both the audience, and I suspect, the writers, quickly learned, a character has only a short time period in which he can be considered “benignly bigoted.” After that, he just starts bumming people out.

It started last season. Pierce was just so over-the-top evil that just seeing him came on the screen was depressing. Troy and Abed were something to look forward to. Pierce was something to endure. They’ve lightened up on him a little bit this season, and while watching his scenes is no longer akin to visiting a cancer ward, it’s just served to illustrate how little he’s actually needed on the show. If Pierce were to simply walk out of the study room and never come back, it wouldn’t adversely affect the plot or the overall structure.

That’s not to say that Chase isn’t a good actor – he’s a brilliant comedian. The issue is that the writers don’t really know what to do with him, and he’s not even sure why he’s there in the first place. It’s a confusing time for everyone; why not just part ways?

As Troy and Abed joked during their pledge drive at the end of the episode, Community‘s future is certainly perilous. In order to survive, the show needs to return to humor and light. It needs the innocent joy of Troy and Abed, Annie’s confused sexuality, and Britta just being generally bad at things. Getting rid of the black hole that is Pierce would certainly be a step in the right direction.

Photo Credit: Tyler Golden/NBC

22 Responses to “Community – Does the show even need Pierce?”

April 5, 2012 at 11:22 PM

I have to say though, so so much of this episode worked. The homage/parody to low budget history programs was uncanny, Britta Brittaing it up with her photography was spot-on and Joel’s speech at the end was one of the best monologues the show has ever had. Plus, The Cape’s Keith David as the narrator.

But you are right … Pierce wasn’t needed in this episode. I think there is a place for his character in the scheme of the show, but if he hates it as much as he’s been saying (even before the wrap party), then it doesn’t do the production good to have him stay on. The show has enough hurdles without adding internal drama.

April 6, 2012 at 12:11 AM

What a bummer about Chevy Chase’s personality issues. I hate to say it, but the show doesn’t need him to work. It needs Harmon. I really hope it can be worked out.

Neil played the running gag jazz song on his radio station!

April 6, 2012 at 12:52 AM

And Abed mentioned Troy’s love of smooth jazz as one of his weaknesses.

April 6, 2012 at 2:00 AM

Loved this episode! Britta’s photos were hilarious, and the explanation of why the actual participants in the battle were doing their own voice overs was a great touch.

April 6, 2012 at 2:11 AM

Leonard likes this post.

April 6, 2012 at 8:36 AM

Exactly! I love how they explored how communication has changed since the days of long-traveling war letters. :) :D ;)

April 6, 2012 at 11:04 AM

I also especially loved the text conversation between Annie and Jeff. It had the perfect amount of absurdity.

April 6, 2012 at 8:42 AM

I feel like it’s a chicken and egg question. The show could work without Pierce. Is that because the character isn’t great or is it because the writers have an issue with Chase and have written crappy stuff for the characer?

April 6, 2012 at 11:00 AM

I’m not sure the writers have done a bad job with the character, per se. When I first heard about the show and watched the pilot I was the most skeptical about his character because at its core it is a very cliched personality, but there have been episodes even this year where Pierce has shown some real depth. However, I’ve watched pretty much every minute crammed into the special features of the DVD sets and now that we’re hearing about this tension, I can see it in the commentaries with Chevy and the few bloopers that actually have Chevy in them.

April 6, 2012 at 12:38 PM

The good news…
The show is getting amazing ratings for NBC. It’s been doing so well that NBC has started showing just Community commercials.

The bad news…
The show is doing amazing for NBC. It’s NBC, amazing on NBC is shit on every other network including OWN. haha

The show I feel will easily get a 4th season unless NBC Brittas it up. Last night’s episode explains why this show needs 7 seasons and no movie. Really, why do we need a movie? I rather have another season. haha

April 7, 2012 at 5:13 AM

It’s a little early to say it’s doing amazing ratings, as the show has dropped from a 2.2 to a 1.3 in four weeks. Whitney was actually doing better numbers when it ended. If Community bounces back next week and holds steady, that’s fine, but it’s the Comedy Central deal and Sony TV wanting to hit syndication numbers that’ll give it the fourth season, not its numbers for the advertisers.

April 6, 2012 at 2:29 PM

I guess this episode pretty much didn’t work for me because I don’t know any civil war documentaries.

I found this to be unbearable to watch.

April 6, 2012 at 2:44 PM

That’s interesting. I suppose that this style of documentary and PBS pledge drives are two distinctly American things. It makes sense that it wouldn’t play as well overseas. What bothered you about it so much?

April 6, 2012 at 2:59 PM

At first I thought that they are spoofing “A Thin Red Line” – which would’ve been kinda cool. But it quickly became apparent that that wasn’t the case.

And from then on I had nothing to connect to, simple as that. All the still images at the beginning – nothing. “Big Cheddar” as a nickname for Shirley? Nothing. Winger giving the two guys imaginary friend hats? Nothing.

I bet there are a ton of references to PBS documentaries in there. Maybe if I would watch “The Civil War” first I could understand this better but since I haven’t I can’t.

The irony is that if they’d just taken Hitler documentaries and made fun of [H] that could’ve easily worked for me.

I really liked last weeks episode. I thought it was superb. To me this is an example why the show is so hit and miss. You have to know the thing they are making fun of or you just sit there and grind your teeth about the product placement and how they suddenly all have blankets tied around their heads even though they didn’t last week (Shirley wasn’t even IN the pillow fort last week and now she’s part of the people who say you had to be there?). There weren’t any throwbacks to last week and I bet they weren’t there because they were strapped for time.

But hey, I came here and it put things into perspective. I understand that you guys had a lot of fun watching it while for me this was an episode underlining why it should be put out of its misery after the Harmon/Chase fallout.

But I bet in syndication it would really work. Ken Levine today wrote something about Becker and Rules of Engagement and I think if this was just one episode of 10 per week (back to back episodes at 7pm or something) I wouldn’t mind at all.

April 6, 2012 at 9:20 PM

You don’t think there were any throwbacks to last week? It makes me question if you were even paying attention to the show.

April 7, 2012 at 12:11 AM

I see you are trying really hard to understand how I meant that. But hey – tell me again how Season 6 of 24 was great. I still have it ringing in my ear how when Jack escaped from that boat house at the beach was so killer and that there would be a great payoff in the next two episodes or so. I can practically see your TV Squad comment in front of me, looking at it bewildered, trying to understand how someone in the looney-bin has Fox AND an Internet-connection so he can comment on it.

Anyway… the explanation is in my comment.

The show doesn’t throw back to things that happened before. It re-tells it. And since those re-tellings in documentary-style are lost on me because I never ever watched PBS in my life (I have never seen a single Ken Burns documentary), those re-tellings were lost on me. I wrote that in my comment above.

All I saw was the same story from last week, re-told. And wrong at that, because the things the narrator says happened didn’t happen the way he says they did. To me, there was nothing new that was funny. There must have been a ton of in-jokes about civil-war documentaries but they were all lost on me.

All I saw was the second re-hashing of “Abed and Troy build a pillow-fort” and it felt old and stale.

You know… like Season 6 of 24.

April 7, 2012 at 4:25 PM

Have you been drinking? I have no Earthly clue what the hell you are talking about. I have never seen 24, I don’t know a thing about 24 season 6. So yeah just keep saying insane things and try to get people to see whatever drug induced BS you are blabbing about.

April 7, 2012 at 12:27 AM

Actually, Shirley’s “Big Cheddar” nickname came about in an earlier episode this season when it was discovered that she was the kid who whipped young Jeff in foosball.

April 7, 2012 at 12:37 AM

And I thought it has something to do with Subway or how she wanted to open that shop.

I saw that episode but the nickname (obviously) didn’t stick. To be honest I didn’t like that one either because it felt like retconning.

I mean don’t you think that Shirley is significantly older than Winger? I don’t see them in the same age-range. I think she’s 10 years older than him, at least that’s how she comes off in the show, how she’s written.

I know that McHale and Brown are the same age, it’s just that Shirley always talks down to Winger in a way that makes her seem older.

Which doesn’t mean that I am trying to distract from the fact that I simply didn’t get the reference. I could say “my bad” but concerning that I was really just commenting on me not remembering Sherley having that big of a role in last weeks episode with the fort. Maybe I should go back and watch it again but I can not remember that she was in the pillow-fight or that she even had any part in the building of the fort. I simply didn’t understand why they opened with her. I was like “Why is she talking about this, was she even part of that story last week?”

April 7, 2012 at 12:45 AM

I went back to take a look at last week’s episode – Shirley was put together with Pierce in the B-story with Britta and Subway. She wasn’t anywhere near the fort.

Maybe that is one of the in-jokes about documentaries that people who actually haven’t been there are telling the tale of how they were a huge part of something even though they were not. I don’t know. I sat there and went “But that didn’t happen”.

April 7, 2012 at 11:36 AM

The beginning of the episode showed that both Shirley and Pierce chose sides, as the rest of the school did, so it doesn’t matter that they were away from it last week.

April 7, 2012 at 11:55 AM

I know. Still doesn’t explain how Shirley managed not to be in a single scene with a pillow or a blanket in last week’s episode and suddenly she’s the first one to tell the tale, with a sheet tied around her head bandana style.

Even Britta came to the head-to-head only after the left Subway, Shirley was no where to be found.

So again, sorry, but I don’t see how someone who had nothing to do with either the pillows or the sheets last week suddenly is the one who chose a side AND is the one telling the viewer how he doesn’t know how it is. So she chose a side and having had nothing to do with the building of the fort or the escalation of the dispute SHE is the one who tells ME, the viewer, that I don’t know how it is?

Excuse me but I (!) saw what happened while YOU were eavesdropping on Britta last week. YOU weren’t there. And now you tell me that I wasn’t there between last week and now and how you were part of it.

Again – maybe the joke was that in documentaries people who actually didn’t have anything to do with a conflict get dragged into it but again – I don’t know civil war docus. So all that was totally lost on me and that makes me a prime example how a viewer who doesn’t know the in-jokes sits in front of “Community” in a bewildered state not understanding what’s supposed to be funny.

Ken Levine got into this at least two times on his blog. Community has a very special type of humor and it’s running out of material. It is severely hit and miss and the writers are (at least to me) apparently having a hard time dealing with Chevy Chase and getting all characters involved into the story from week to week.

Powered By OneLink