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Community has never shied away from homages and spoofs but “G.I. Jeff” may be its most fully realized homage since Season 2’s “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas,” which is mentioned multiple times throughout “G.I. Jeff." The recreation of a children’s television show created to sell toys – a recurring joke throughout the episode – was impressive. However, where “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” felt genuine and more emotionally gratifying, “G.I. Jeff” felt more contrived.
I am a tad too young to remember the G.I. Joe animated series so any nostalgia at seeing the very well done facsimile of the show was lost on me. However, Community made sure to make the larger themes accessible to every viewer, even if some of the smaller jokes were Joe specific.
The episode begins with Wingspan, Jeff’s character in the G.I. Joe world fighting Cobra Kai and Destro. But when Jeff actually kills Destro, something that causes outrage amongst the actual characters from G.I. Joe, it lands Jeff, Annie as Tight Ship (sporting some crazy cleavage, which Jeff tells her to be happy about), Britta as Buzzkill (complete with arm saw and Britta liking Buzzkill more than her actual name), and Shirley as Three Kids (every scene she mentions her three kids, like a catch phrase) in jail where they meet Abed as Fourth Wall (in a rather racist portrayal of an Native American). Abed soon takes up the cause to find out what exactly is happening in this world while bothering Jeff by bringing up some sort of underground ruins called Greendale.
Soon it becomes apparent that Jeff is actually hospitalized, which is later revealed to be because he took some Korean youth pills with a fifth of scotch. Jeff then half-heartedly decides he wants to stay in G.I. Joe world instead of going back to the real world because he doesn’t want to age. Well, until Duke and Cobra Commander team up against Jeff and his group – Yo, Joebra – and ask Jeff questions about what boobs really feel like since they are only cartoons and can’t experience such things (including going to the bathroom).
Spliced between the animated segments are fake commercials for G.I. Joe toys that are filled with jokes about how the show is only meant to sell toys.
Despite all the referential humor, “G.I. Jeff” lacked many truly funny moments. Few of the jokes hit and the ones that did weren’t all that funny.
The episode also felt rushed to get through the plot causing some of the realizations to feel unearned or completely made up to make sure the episode got to the end. The animation homage to the actual G.I. Joe was top notch but the story and jokes did not reach the animation’s level.
Unfortunately, this episode was not as fully realized as many of Community's homages and spoofs from both earlier this season and previous seasons.