Donald Glover and Danny Pudi
After a long wait, Jim Rash has finally brought his other talent to the set of Community (the first being his amaze-dean drag impersonations as Greendale's Dean Pelton). Rash, who won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for 2011's The Descendants, penned this week's especially kooky episode "Basic Human Anatomy," in which Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi) swap bodies a la Freaky Friday. Sounds pretty great, right? Wrong, it sounds amazing and is a must-see for even the most disillusioned Community fans.
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Regardless of how you feel about the show's first post-Dan Harmon season, all fans will love the sheer novelty of seeing Glover and Pudi switch roles. "Watching Donald do Danny's mannerisms as Abed is quite a feat because it was such a sweet, sweet portrayal of Abed," Rash told TVGuide.com. "And subsequently, just watching Danny have so much fun being Troy and [having] a completely different brain wave than he's been operating for three seasons before this."
To help get the characters just right, Glover and Pudi recorded dialogue for each other to provide a blueprint of how they would deliver the lines. But recordings aside, the pair took to each other's roles with an eerie ease. "It was scary how much they fell into it," Rash said. "Those two guys know each other so well and they really can play each other. And so that is the freaky part of it all."
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Though "Basic Human Anatomy" is full of classic gags and study group shenanigans, Rash also used the homage to tell a very sincere — and surprisingly emotional — story. "I was happy because my favorite Community episodes are the ones — and there are a lot of them — that have a fondness for balancing comedy and having these moments of real heart," Rash said. "Because you love these characters and you want them to both entertain, but be as human as they all feel. I was excited that this sort of became an episode that needed to do that."
But no matter how bittersweet the episode might be, Rash insists there's enough "insanity around the heart" to keep things fun. With the swap falling on Britta and Troy's one-year anniversary, the skeptical Britta agrees to go on a date with the person whom she believes to be Abed. And thanks to a classic Greendale loophole, Leonard has overthrown Annie and Shirley from valedictorian, setting the pair on a mission to oust their shocking new rival. Plus, did you know Greendale by-laws allow three wishes to any student scolded by the Dean?
Of course, all these plots are all overshadowed by Rash's own performance in the episode. When Jeff enlists the help of Dean Pelton to get Troy and Abed to drop the bit, things don't go exactly as planned when the Dean attempts his own body swap.
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Check out an exclusive clip from "Basic Human Anatomy" below.
Community airs Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC.