CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I've liked "Community" (8 p.m. Thursdays, NBC) since it premiered in 2009, but I wouldn't say it's one of my favorite sitcoms. It tends to float around the middle, sometimes clocking in at No. 5 and other times a little below that.
However, in the past month, it has had two hilarious, smart and wonderfully creative episodes that have definitely bumped it up in the standings: April 5's "Pillows and Blankets" and last week's "Basic Lupine Urology."
"Pillows and Blankets" picked up the previous episode's subplot of Abed and Troy's disagreement over building a giant blanket fort vs. a pillow one and escalated it into a full-blown, campus-wide war. The battle is recounted as a historical documentary: heavy on the solemn narration, stirring music and still photos. The silly plot is played perfectly straight.
Not only was the idea exceptionally creative, elevating what was a mundane plot point revisiting territory explored in season two, but it was also spot-on. It perfectly captured the feel of the Ken Burns documentaries it spoofs and incorporated other nods to PBS, like narration by Keith David (who won an Emmy for his narration on Burns' "The War") and a fake pledge drive pitch at the end.
Of course, none of this would have mattered if it weren't funny, but it was. My favorite line was the dim-witted Troy's threat to Abed: "I'm giving you an all-tomato, meaning you give me the whole tomato. Or else." But there were plenty of other jokes that popped, too, especially when intoned in such serious narration.
As good as that episode was, though, the "Law & Order" spoof, "Basic Lupine Urology," was better. Even the title is clever -- an allusion to that franchise's creator, Dick Wolf.
It was on fire from the start, beginning with the pre-credits crime set-up (the study group's biology class yam is "murdered"), then going into the opening sequence that mimicked the "Law & Order" one right down to the credits' typeface. The time/location interstitials and the iconic gavel sound were also used in the episode, of course.
The story followed the usual "L&O" format (police investigation, followed by trial, which includes, or is followed by, shocking revelation). It included touches that anyone familiar with any "L&O" show will recognize, including the cops' quips, their fly-off-the-handle "bad cop" interrogations and, my personal favorite, a pitch-perfect replication of a suspect's stunned look and momentary pause before fleeing (as well as the excellent ensuing chase).
But while it was spot-on in it's spoofing, it played the story for much broader laughs than "Pillows and Blankets." I laughed out loud so much that my dog Riley wandered into the living room periodically to see what was up. Even the shocking revelation cracked me up.
"Community" hasn't been renewed yet, but on many prediction lists, it's being considered a safe bet to return. If it continues with episodes like these next year, it will definitely have a home in my top 5 -- and maybe even my top 3.
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Series premieres: "Goldfathers," 10 p.m. Friday, National Geographic (Alaskan gold miners); "United Stats of America," 10 p.m. Tuesday, History (surprising facts about our country and lives); "Around the World in 80 Plates," 10 p.m. Wednesday, Bravo (globe-trotting culinary race).
Season premiere: "Sherlock," 9 p.m. Sunday, PBS.
Series finale: "In Plain Sight," 10 p.m. Friday, USA.
Season finales: "The Amazing Race," 8 p.m. Sunday, CBS; "GCB," 10 p.m. Sunday, ABC; "2 Broke Girls," 8 p.m. Monday, CBS; "Castle," 10 p.m. Monday, ABC; "The Voice," 8 p.m. Tuesday, NBC; "Last Man Standing," 8 p.m. Tuesday, ABC; "New Girl," 9 p.m. Tuesday, Fox; "Unforgettable," 10 p.m. Tuesday, CBS; "CSI," 10 p.m. Wednesday, CBS.
Special: "Treasure Island," 7 p.m. Sunday, Syfy (two-part adaptation starring Eddie Izzard, Elijah Wood and Donald Sutherland).
Of note: "Hot in Cleveland" features bloopers and season highlights, 10 p.m. Wednesday, TV Land; "Yes, Dear" is now on Nick at Nite, airing weekdays at 11 p.m.Reach Amy Robinson at flips...@wvgazette.com.