Anna Quindlen recently wrote in The Wall Street Journal, “Experience has told me that writing poorly sometimes leads to something better. Not writing at all leads only to reruns of Law & Order.” Well, Community proved last night that writing absolutely brilliantly can lead to a genius Law & Order parody. Following in the footsteps of previous tribute subjects Apollo 13, the “Dollars Trilogy,” Night of the Living Dead, My Dinner With Andre, and Ken Burns’ The Civil War, Dick Wolf’s venerable franchise got the full Greendale treatment. And I mean full treatment, right down to a new Law & Order-style credits sequence and even an appearance from actress Leslie Hendrix, the franchise’s long-serving medical examiner, Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers. Luckily, EW.com is represented by two separate yet equally important types of people: the live bloggers who provide instant commentary, and the recappers who dive deep into your favorite episodes the next day. And I just happen to be both.
“Basic Lupine Urology” began with a classic Law & Order trope: a cold open that has absolutely nothing to do with anything that follows. In this case, two after-hours janitors opened the biology lab to clean up while one was lamenting his broken relationship with his dental hygienist. He didn’t realize that that could happen when he started hitting on her. (Line of the Night #7: “Hey, she’s the one putting her hands in my mouth.”) It perfectly captured the faux naturalism Law & Order always employed to lull you into thinking it’s perfectly normal to stumble over a murdered corpse at any given time.
And a corpse these janitors found: a yam. But not just any yam. It was the study group’s biology project. So if you ask me that totally justified Annie luring Professor Kane (Michael K. Williams) away from Mama’s Family and sending a misleading midnight text-message to Jeff about “being screwed in the biology lab,” to show them the scene of the crime. Professor Kane decided the group would get a passing grade for their efforts, much to Annie’s horror. (Line of the Night #6: “A “C”? Why don’t I just get pregnant at a bus station?”) So Kane said that if the study group could prove someone intentionally destroyed their yam, showing that they knew how to research and prove a hypothesis, they could get an A. Shirley immediately stepped up to be the Van Buren-style dispatcher to send Detectives Troy and Abed off to investigate. Off course, they both wanted to have the final, pre-credits zinger, so they kept one-upping each other with strained puns involving “cold cases” and “hot potatoes.” It was kind of perfect. If you think about it, Detectives Briscoe and Logan really did fashion themselves amateur stand-up comics after awhile.
What’s red, blue, black and white all over? A Law & Order credits sequence of course! Early ‘90s Muzak scored stills of the Greendale Criminal Justice System’s finest, along with a few mugshots of Starburns. But if only Dick Wolf had allowed them to use the actual Law & Order theme song! If it can be my cell phone ringtone (no joke), it could have been the theme song of Community this one time. That would have made it complete.
NEXT: The investigation begins. Possible suspects? Pierce. Todd. Magnitude. Starburns.