Film and TV

Community: So That's What Sophie B. Hawkins Has Been Up to

Regular Community reviewer Abby Koenig will be back next week once she recovers from cat scratch fever.

I was never what you'd call a huge fan of Community during Dan Harmon's run, but I always enjoyed it when I made the effort to watch. Last night's "Herstory of Dance" was the first fourth-season episode I've seen, and it certainly looked and sounded like what I remember, only -- what's the word? -- tamer.

Or maybe I've just never been a huge fan of Abed.

Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) is up to his old shenanigans (*sigh*), announcing a Sadie Hawkins dance to distract students from the imminent confiscation of the school's water fountains. For those of you who didn't have the pleasure of growing up in the South, Sadie Hawkins is that one time of the year boys get to feel traditional feminine emotions like objectification and rejection.

In protest, because that's what she does, Britta (Gillian Jacobs) opts for a Sophie B. Hawkins dance, having confused her with Susan B. Anthony in what doesn't at all feel like a forced gag for an avowed feminist. I can't wait for the George Steinbrenner Festival, in honor of the founder of Ms. magazine.

Abed (Danny Pudi) accepts invitations from two separate girls (presented by Annie and Shirley respectively) because of the promise of classic sitcom hijinx. Never mind that the only reason Annie and Shirley are setting him up in the first place is plot contrivance. His date gag is in danger until he meets Rachel (Brie Larson), the cute coat check girl who I was hoping for a time would turn out to be a figment of his imagination, because Abed's latent mental illness is always hilarious. She abets Abed (heh) in his scheme, until he callously blows her off. Annie and Shirley both call him out for his stringing along two girls, and then Rachel splits. And now he has guilt.

Or, whatever passes for guilt in a sociopath.

Sophie B. Hawkins shows up and plays that one song you remember her for (no, the other one), at least until Abed interrupts to pull the embarrassing rom-com public plea for forgiveness. Jeff (Joel McHale) apologizes to Britta for being such a jerk (let me just say: damn, I wish I was Gillian Jacobs' lover), and Sophie B. Hawkins plays that other song.

Occasional high points aside (Chevy Chase, Abed's über-manic pixie dream girl date), "Herstory of Dance" seemed to be going through the motions most of the time. I think I laughed twice, and both times were "Pierce moments" ("I had a close friend people called a liar; his name was Bernie Madoff").

And was that puppet thing at the end a regular feature? Because...woof.

Next week: Abby will be back, and she's welcome to it.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar