Community: Greendale's Finest

By Tim Surette

Apr 27, 2012

Community S03E17: "Basic Lupine Urology"

Note: I wrote this review off a press screener, and this particular screener omitted whatever happened at the very end of the episode because apparently it was a big spoiler and Sony TV didn't want us blabbering about it to everyone else before it aired. So, I honestly don't know what happened. All I know is Kane picked up the phone and got bad news. But I have theories: The yam people burst from the Earth and swore vengeance on the slaughter of their babies, Starburns' car-trunk meth lab exploded and killed him, or Vicki suffocated Neil while re-enacting page 72 of the Kama Sutra. I'll add my thoughts on whatever actually happened as soon as I see it. And whenever I get around to writing about it. Which could be a few minutes from now... or a year... but will probably be somewhere in between. Update! I've added a few more thoughts below.

Some old dude who's probably dead now once said, "Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery." The words stuck, and now that notion is considered truth and a great way for no-talent copycats to justify their rip-offs. Law & Order should be feeling awfully flattered right about now, but Community's imitation should not in any way be considered talent-less copy-and-pasting.

As a two-time reigning Cynicism Champion, I'm still waiting for Community's "homage episodes" to get boring, and they simply refuse to do so. Tonight's "Basic Lupine Urology" had been hyped for weeks; not only did it live up to expectations, it outlived them to become an essential Community episode (which makes, like, 20 now?). The danger of doing a Law & Order episode is that it's relatively easy to do, especially compared to a masterpiece like "Pillows & Blankets," and things that are easy to do are often surprisingly easy to mess up. That did not happen in "Basic Lupine Urology," which merged the worlds of Community and Law & Order so seamlessly that a new mega-world was formed.

I'm no Law & Order-holic, but I've seen enough episodes to know that "Basic Lupine Urology" nailed all the important parts of the legendary procedural. Special shout-out to director Rob Schrab for capturing the look and feel of Law & Order perfectly, and extra big hug to writer Megan Ganz for transposing Community onto Law & Order's framework so well. What really stood out to me was how involved in the case I was, and that's what made this episode so great. Rewinds and pauses were mandatory as the sound of my own laughing drowned out important details in the case of the Yam Bam Thank You Ma'am Killer.

The breakdown of Annie and Jeff as the "Law" and Troy and Abed as the "Order" was about as perfect as it could be. I wish there'd been more of my beloved Britta, but I think she got the biggest laugh as the "computer whiz" archetype, especially when she poked at the keyboard and Instagrammed photo evidence. But what particularly surprised me was Michael Kenneth Williams' performance as Professor Kane. He was actually really funny this time! Also great: The episode's excellent incorporation of several of Greendale's secondary characters...even if Garrett was just the mandatory Law & Order hot dog vendor on a busy New York street with construction signs and steamy manholes. Hee hee, steamy manholes.

I don't know how long Community can keep up its fantastic track record of homage episodes and make them seem fresh. At some point Community is going to announce a Grey's Anatomy send-up or an I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry tribute, and we'll all be like, "Oh boy, this again." Or maybe, just maybe, the show will just keep doing these types of episodes right, like it did with "Basic Lupine Urology," and we'll all be like, "Oh boy! This again!"

[UPDATE] Okay, I SWEAR I didn't know what happened at the end there when I wrote that stuff in the "note" at the beginning of this article. PROMISE. Here's a screenshot of the version I saw as semi-proof:

But WOW! The Yam was not the Community character the "someone on Community's gonna die" news from a few months ago was referring to. Now, the victim in question was the beloved "enhancement" dealer Starburns, who got rear-ended, blowing up the meth lab in his trunk. Normally I don't like to pat myself on the back but I guess I called it? Though how can I really take any credit for it because how would you know I'm telling the truth or not? I guess we have to work on our trust issues.

Still, wow! Starburns. He was one of the characters we suspected would be offed when we listed potential candidates in February, and he was a favorite pick among you guys as well. I don't know how this is going to affect the series going forward, but I hope he gets a great tribute next week. I hope he comes back as a ghost. In the meantime, let's remember our favorite Starburns moments. Mine is that time he was high.

Study Group Notes

– "Keep the change, Garrett. [pause] You know, keep the hot dog."

– "What's a matter, Todd? Cut yourself on an extremely sharp Oscar Wilde play?"

– "Sorry about my partner, he's been on edge ever since we switched."

– Did you all notice Chang's face in the last courtroom scene?

– Fact: Britta looks really hot in glasses.

Follow writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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  • El-Isa May 08, 2012

    Great episode!

    R.I.P. Starburn

    We will always remember you as a man, who for all we know, is a Holocoust denying 9/11 pedophile

  • MegLady May 02, 2012

    I could totally see Starburns haunting the campus whispering, "My name is Alex!" RIP Starburns.

  • notabene14 Apr 30, 2012

    ok, this has nothing to do with the episode, but it has something to do with community... I found Trobed! Yes, I found the human form of the Troy & Abed fusion... I was watching the french version of The Voice and this contestant called Stephan Rizon just looks like an even mix of both, it's uncanny... Please, Tim, google him, but mostly watch a video of him on youtube, it's more impressive on video... that's gotta deserve a FTW nod, right?

  • sofia2173 Apr 29, 2012

    favorite moments that were not mentioned:

    1) arresting Todd: ' you have the right to do whatever you want, nothing you say or do can be used against you by anyone but we'd really like it if you came with us, please and thank you'

    2)"you may proceed ms Edison but do so with cation, need i remind you this is NOT a courtroom"

    3)"... she offered to give me her only possession, a wooden chair, but i refused, i was only doing my duty ... and we had plenty of chairs at the base"

    4)"is that why you hit your wife? Withdrawn!

    is that why you drink and pop pills? Withdrawn!

    are you a virgin? Withdrawn!"

  • ciaBrysh Apr 30, 2012


    "Objection! Because I hate all of you!"

  • cecylia248 Apr 29, 2012

    RIP Starburns

  • MightyMad Apr 29, 2012

    'Gonna quote the extremely weird man who sing to Troy and Abed before they go to sleep: "AWESOME!"

    - Britta looks hot with glasses... and Annie looks mighty damn fine in a lawyer suit (kinda shocked Jeff didn't ravished her the minute he saw her!) If Shirley as the 'top cop' was super cute... so wins all around here!

    - That was Chang is SLEEP MODE... freakin' hilarious.

    - Starburns will be miss by some... but not by me. I always saw him as a minor type of villains, like one of the henchmen in the "Batman" TV-show, but without a super-villain to boss him around. So I don't see him being gone as a big lost - seriously, how hard will it be for such a talented writing crew to come up with a new hilarious drug-dealer for their show?

    All and all... probably the best episode of the season. Laughed from beginning to end.

  • mad-pac Apr 29, 2012

    Magnificent episode! It reminded me of Law and Order in its peak. I loved the way suddenly Abed and Troy appeared dressed New York style, and Annie really looked like a lawyer.

  • DavidRouben Apr 29, 2012

    I thought that, with the death, community was going to pull an AD and just make the huge death some old lady. But then i realized it was actually serious... RIP starburns

  • GoKuVeGeTaGoHaN Apr 29, 2012

    As usual an awesome episode of Community. RIP Starburns :(

  • Dwarde916 Apr 28, 2012

    The line that got me was Professor Kane's, "Holy crap - we are DEFINITELY dissecting pine cones next year!"

    Also, nice touch with the shout out to Starburns in the intro.

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