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Recap: Community S 3 E 17 Basic Lupine Urology
CHUNG-CHUNG
"Greendale Community College is represented by two separate yet equally important types of people; the goofballs that run around stirring up trouble, and the eggheads that make a big deal about it. These are their stories."'

When the study group's final project for biology is destroyed and they risk receiving only a passing grade, they spring into action, launching an investigation into the 'murder' to find the culprit, see justice served and do better than a C.


Tropes appearing in this episode of Community include:

  • Actor Allusion: Michael Kenneth Williams saying "a man must have a code."
    • Chevy Chase really did appear in an L&O episode.
  • Affectionate Parody/Homage/Parody Episode: To the Law & Order franchise, especially the original series. Additional tropes listed individually.
    • The title "Lupine Urology" to creator Dick Wolf.
    • The cold open with two janitors having a mundane conversation and discovering the smushed yam.
    • CHUNG CHUNG
    • Shirley knocking on the glass to interrupt Star-Burns' interrogation.
    • Jeff ordering a hot dog from Garrett's cart. The entire scene is set up like the numerous external shots of the characters wandering New York that pervade Law & Order. And more specifically the numerous external shots of the characters buying hot dogs from New York hot dog carts that pervade Law & Order.
    • Abed and Troy claim to hear a kitten meowing in Starburns' locker and therefore exigent circumstances.
    • It even goes to the set details and the way that scenes are shot and framed; for example, green lamps similar to those in the District Attorney's office are in the Dean's office and on Professor Kane's desk in the biology lab, and a scene with Shirley, Troy and Abed discussing the case in the rarely-seen corridor outside the study room is shot in such a way that evokes both the police precinct and the Lieutenant's office.
    • The sudden twist phone call just before the credits where they learn of Starburns' death.
    • Leslie Hendrix as the coroner.
    • A scene with a disorganized filing room.
    • A big celebrity guest star as the defense attorney (in this case, it's Michael Ironside, Type Cast as a military officer).
  • Amoral Attorney:
    • Annie's tactics during the trial were vicious and unethical. Jeff of all people calls her out on it and points out that in her desire to win she stopped caring about finding out the truth.
    • The defense attorney wasn't much better, taking the opportunity to slander the absent Starburns as a "Holocaust-denying 9/11 pedophile."
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In the courtroom Annie suggest that Todd is a wife-beating, alcoholic, pill-popping virgin.
  • As You Know: Troy and Abed confirm Magnitude's alibi. Start scene:
    Abed: So you're saying you did check out a key, but it was inside your backpack when someone stole it off a table in the library while you were using the bathroom, and you haven't seen it since?
    Magnitude: (in affirmation) POP POP!
    • Potentially justified if they had to piece together the alibi with Magnitude's "POP POP!" being the only confirmation they got.
  • The B Grade: The whole plot of the episode begins because Annie refuses to accept a "passing" grade for their sabotaged project.
    Annie: A passing grade? Like a C?! Why don't I just get pregnant at a bus station?!
  • Be as Unhelpful as Possible: In true Law & Order style, everyone Troy and Abed interview turns out to be hiding something at some point.
  • Black Boss Lady: Shirley takes on this role due to Genre Savvy status from watching police procedurals, acting as a virtual expy of L&O's Lt. Anita Van Buren.
  • Blatant Lies: Star-Burns claiming that he had simply found that backpack, despite being seen by both Troy and Abed stealing it off a table. Not to mention it was Troy's backpack
  • Brick Joke: The first time we see Star-Burns in the episode is when he falls for Troy and Abed's sting by swiping Troy's backpack. Later, after they've broken into his locker and discovered the equipment he's stolen for his meth-lab operation, Starburns comes across them — and drops another three backpacks which he's obviously also stolen.
  • Call Back:
    • The title contains black and white stills of events from previous episodes such as the food fight, the Model UN, Annie's handgun, a desolate campus, the cafeteria fire, and a pair of Blorgons. Footage of Annie and Shirley driving the campus police cart is also included.
    • Most of the minor characters appear.
    • Troy's Spider-Man tie, to his pajamas in "Anthropology 101."
    • Abed's Inspector Spacetime badge with the programme's logo, first seen in "Biology101."
    • Reading an analog clock is one of the things that Abed doesn't understand at the end of "Virtual Systems Analysis."
    • Pierce says "Duh-doy!" which is also what Britta says in various other episodes, and Jeff echoed once while drunk.
    • Starburns has a locker since every student gets one at registration.
    • Jeff doesn't get to invoke 9/11. It is done by the other party. He did not seem pleased.
    • Starburns' meth lab. While he's been known to be a drug dealer since season 2, it seems that he only got into crystal meth after Professor Kane refused to get a Breaking Bad thing going with him.
    • Shirley mentioned watching crime shows earlier in a text to her husband during the pillow fight.
    • A subtle example; when Starburns tries to run, after both of them attempt to say it, Troy eventually allows Abed to say "Why do they always run?", but is clearly sullen and mildly resentful about it when he does so. This calls back to the root of the argument that saw the fighting in "Digital Exploration of Interior Design" and "Pillows and Blankets" — that Troy felt like Abed was always the one who led and he was always the one who followed.
      • Though later, Troy and Abed switch roles. Abed throws a tantrum when Annie and Jeff say they don't have a case. Troy apologizes, saying "Sorry about my partner. He's been on edge ever since we switched." - a further Call Back to the lesson Abed learned about empathy in the previous episode.
    • In The Tag Shirley asks when Troy & Abed's partment will be ready again, only to be told the fumigation finished a few weeks ago, which was the catalyst behind "Digital Exploration of Interior Design" and "Pillows And Blankets".
  • The Cameo: Leslie Hendrix (who plays coroner Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers on L&O), who performs an autopsy on the "murdered" yam; and Michael Ironside as Lt. Colonel Archwood.
  • Character Development: We receive a subtle-but-clear example of how far Jeff Winger has come over the course of the series — the Amoral Attorney supreme, who would previously do anything no matter how underhanded to win and get what he wants without any real concern for who might get hurt in the process, is now willing to lose the case and sacrifice an easy A grade in order to ensure that an innocent man (and one who he doesn't even like very much) is not wrongfully punished.
    Jeff: When we started this, you were after the truth. And then I convinced you it was more important to win. Don't be like me. A man's got to have a code. I can only assume there's a female equivalent to that, a code-ette or something.
    Annie: But —
    Jeff: It's not worth getting an A if an innocent man might get an F.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Starburns confesses that he stole equipment from the bio lab for the meth lab he was making in his trunk. At the end of the episode, it's revealed that meth lab exploded and killed Starburns.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: In true Law & Order style, the first person the "cops" interview — Todd — ends up being the guy who gets "arrested". Subverted in Todd's case, but not so much for Neil, however, who was also interviewed early on and turns out to be the actual culprit.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    Pierce: 5 to 1 on the black guy!
    Better: That's offensive.
    Pierce: Fine, 6 to 1.
    • Starburns also doesn't quite get why Quendra doesn't seem particularly keen on doing a Fake-Out Make-Out with him:
      Starburns: Kiss me!
      Quendra: What?!
      Starburns: I'll explain later!
      Quendra: No!
      Starburns: I'll explain later!
      Quendra: The explanation isn't the issue!
  • Courtroom Antics: Both the visiting defense and prosecutor Annie pull blatant examples of Disregard That Statement.
  • Courtroom Episode: Community this one off the Master List of Episodes here at TV Tropes for a second time.
  • Cute Kitten - Troy & Abed get a janitor to open Starburns' locker by saying there's a kitten in there.
  • Da Chief: Shirley, doing a good impersonation of Lt. Van Buren.
  • Deadpan Snarker/Sarcasm Mode: Abed steps up a notch or two in this, which is only fitting since he's partly channelling Detective Briscoe. Example: While interviewing Todd as he's shelving books in the library, he notices his hand is bandaged:
    Abed: Ah! What happened Todd? Cut yourself on an extra sharp Oscar Wilde play?
  • Dedication: A "special thanks to Dick Wolf" graphic appears after the Downer Ending and Fade to Black.
  • Description Cut: After Abed and Troy learn Magnitude had his backpack stolen:
    Abed: Whoever did it likes to steal backpacks off tables in the library. Only one way to catch a dirtbag like that.
    (Cut to Troy sitting in the library "disguised" as a college student wearing glasses and a letterman sweater)
    Troy: (loudly) Well, time to visit the restroom!
  • Disregard That Statement: Lt. Colonel Archwood abuses this to call Star-Burns a "Holocaust-denying 9/11 pedophile" and Annie abuses this to suggest that Todd is a wife-beating, alcoholic, pill-popping virgin.
  • Downer Ending: The culprit is discovered and justice is served... then comes a phone call that Starburns is dead.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Starburns.
  • Exact Words: Jeff claims that Annie got him to the Biology room with a "misleading text message." She counters with "Well technically, you are about to get screwed in the Biology room." (As in "screwed over.")
  • Expospeak Gag: The title more or less means "Study of Dick Wolf", the creator of Law & Order.
  • Expy:
    • Shirley as Da Chief/Black Boss Lady Lieutenant Van Buren.
    • Abed and Troy as the detective team. Abed in particular appears to be channeling Detective Lennie Briscoe, including wearing a scarf.
    • Jeff as the Executive Assistant District Attorney (Jack McCoy for much of the series) and Annie as the junior ADA.
    • Prof. Kane and the Dean as judges (Kane is the arraignment judge, and he and the Dean both behave as the trial judge).
    • Britta is the computer tech handling image forensics. She tries to offer her skills as a psych student/profiler as well, but gets cut off mid-sentence for a scene change.
    • Leslie Hendrix isn't even an Expy. She's just her Law & Order character, complete with the ever-present pink scrubs.
  • Enhance Button: Really just Britta using the zoom/enlarge function. She applies an "Old West color" (sepia) filter first.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Star-Burns attempts one on Quendra to evade pursuit, but she refuses even when he reassures her he'll "explain later."
    Quendra: "The explanation isn't the issue!"
  • Felony Misdemeanor:
    • The whole episode revolves around a yam being killed.
    Starburns: I swiped some beakers for the meth lab that I'm building in the trunk of my car, but that's it! I didn't kill any yam!
    • The crime becomes even more heinous when it is discovered that the yam was pregnant (ie it was sprouting buds)
  • Foreshadowing: Early in the episode, Troy says they've drawn the short straw. Abed corrects him and they've got a hot potato. Turns out, someone has been boiling the yams.
  • Funny Background Event:
  • Good-Looking Privates: The Dean has a thing for a man in uniform.
  • Genre Savvy: Shirley watches crime shows when she's bored, enabling her to pull a pitch-perfect impersonation of Lt. Van Buren.
    Shirley: It's been a long fifteen years.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The episode title.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Troy and Abed take turns playing both.
  • Hello, Attorney!: Jeff and Annie suit up very nicely in this episode.
  • I Gave My Word: Troy and Abed promised Starburns that they would not reveal what he was doing in the biology lab at night. Professor Kane is willing to respect that they are honoring a pinky swear.
  • I'm Standing Right Here:
    • During Starburns's interrogation, Shirley pulls Troy and Abed into the other room to talk to them... except their "soundproof one-way glass" is an empty glass aquarium and some boxes.
      Starburns: I can both see and hear you!
    • During a sidebar in Kane's office during the trial, Annie pulls Jeff over for a sidebar-within-a-sidebar. Kane points out this trope and simply concurs with what they were talking about instead of waiting for them to give a redundant explanation.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Abed, Troy and Shirley spend their portion of the episode acting like the cops on Law & Order. It's often lampshaded — and they happily admit — that they aren't cops, but clearly enjoy the role-play.
    Shirley: He's right. We're not cops.
    Abed: I'd say our hands are tied, but we basically have no hands.
  • Infraction Distraction: Inverted; Star-Burns confesses to setting up a meth-lab in the trunk of his car to get off the hook for killing a yam.
  • Inherently Funny Words: The word yam gets funnier and funnier every time it's mentioned, especially because everyone is so Serious Business about it.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Fat Neil murders the yams so that Vicki will pass, avoid summer school, and be available for sex at his parents' cabin. Neil must retake Biology during the summer.
    • Star-Burns's crimes are completely overlooked, but he dies when his meth lab explodes.
  • Lost In Transmission: Britta's offer to put her psych degree to use in catching the bad guy is cut off by the Law & Order-style title cards before she can even start the offer.
    Britta: I can also help! As a psych major I can pro- [Bong-Bong]
  • Love Makes You Evil: A pretty mild example, but an example none the less.
    Fat Neil: God forgive me! I did it for love!
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The Dean's lullaby in The Tag, which ends, "The dean will be here / Staring at you."
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: One of Annie's "withdrawn" questions is about whether Todd is still a virgin or not.note 
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • "A man's gotta have a code."
    • "We only have time for justice."
  • Miranda Rights: "You have the right to do whatever you want, nothing you say or do can be used against you by anyone, but we'd really like it if you came with us, please-and-thank-you..."
  • Mood Whiplash: After yet another bout of wacky Greendale hijinks surrounding taking a dead yam too seriously, the episode ends with news coming in that Starburns has died in a meth-lab explosion. And then we cut to The Tag with Troy & Abed still sleeping at the school even though their apartment's no longer being fumigated because they like it when the Dean sings them lullabys.
  • Move Along, Nothing to See Here: By Chang in the beginning. Jeff lampshades that it's the first time that statement was actually true.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Vicki, Fat Neil's girlfriend, may fail the final class project. The only reasonable course must be to kill the rest of the class' projects.
  • Musical Pastiche: The Special Edition Title features a remake of the opening theme with L&O style instrumentation.
  • No Time to Explain - Subversion: As Starburns is being chased by Troy and Abed, he attempts to hide by asking Quendra to kiss him, telling her that he will explain later. She refuses him, saying that she doesn't care what the explanation is.
  • Not so Above It All: You would think that Colonel Archwood, being a pretty serious military man, would be above the insanity of Greendale and the Serious Business over the smashed yam. You would think very very wrong. Such as his objection that a 'pinky-swear' is being taken seriously as if were a legally-binding agreement... not because it's just a pinky swear, but because it's being taken over the word of a decorated soldier like Todd.
  • Oh Crap: Starburns has a truly epic one of these when he's discovered stealing bags. And again when the equipment for his car-boot meth lab is discovered.
  • Off on a Technicality: Abed complains that Todd will be getting away due to this, after Starburns withdraws his (key) testimony due to threats. Of course, as Abed himself lampshades, one of the 'technicalities' involved is that Troy and Abed are not actually cops.
  • Only Sane Man: Professor Kane does not appreciate being summoned to the biology lab at midnight for what is essentially a sweet potato someone's pushed off a table. He also gets increasingly irate with the lunacy everyone displays about the ensuing investigation.
    Holy crap! We are definitely dissecting pine cones next year.
    • At times, he's Not so Above It All. He supports Jeff withholding information about Starburns over a pinky swear. And he still goes along with the court, even acting as the judge.
  • Opening Narration: Yet another L&O nod.
  • Out of Focus: Britta, Pierce, and Chang are limited to one scene each in the episode.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Parodied. Troy is undercover to catch a backpack thief. He overplays his cover so badly that you would think the thief would have no problem identifying him as a pretend undercover cop.
  • Purely Aesthetic Glasses: Britta.
  • Quip to Black: Subverted, Abed and Troy try to one-up each other, ending with
    Abed: We can't both do the zinger.
    Troy: Sorry.
    • The gag is repeated when they attempt to quip "Why do they always run?" simultaneously.
  • The Rainman: Abed being unable to read an analog clock.
    Abed: I'm gifted in other ways.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Neil and Vicki, whom a number of fans have been viewing with Shipping Goggles since Season 2.
  • Serious Business:
    • The sweet potato projects. In contrast the serious felonies Starburns is committing are quietly ignored, setting up the ending.
    • The pinky swear between Starburns, Abed and Troy is treated as if it were some binding legal deal between the cops/DA and the criminal witness in exchange for testimony.
  • Ship Tease: My, how quickly Jeff responds to a text message involving Annie and "being screwed" in the biology lab....
  • Shipping Goggles: invoked Dean Pelton gets visibly (more) interested when Prof. Kane gets in the face of Lt. Colonel Archwood.
  • Shout-Out: Prof. Kane tells Jeff that "a man's gotta have a code."
    The Dean: Awesome!
    • Combined with a Call Back: not only does Starburns followup on his plan to "get a Breaking Bad thing going on", he also starts by stealing lab equipment from a school, which is what Walter did as well.
  • Special Edition Title: In the L&O style, complete with the Power Walk at the end.
  • Stealth Pun: Star-burns dies due to braking badly.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Subverted with Todd, who looks set up to be a perfect example of one of these (for a given value of 'murderer' seeing as we're discussing the death of a yam here). Then it turns out the yam was dead when Todd accidentally dropped it anyway, and it was Neil who killed it.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Ignoring the tragedy of it, it should be remembered that Star-Burns chose to build a meth lab in his own car trunk. There are several things wrong with that, beyond legality and morality.
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating: Immediately after breaking a suspect down to a tearful confession;
    Annie: (punches the air) Booyah! Ha-ha! That's how it's done! (dances) Uh, uh, uh! Whoooo-hoo!
  • Vomiting Cop: Troy gags during the autopsy scene.
  • Walk and Talk
  • Wham Line: Star-Burns is killed in a meth-lab explosion. The beauty of this example is that it works on both a dramatic level within the series itself and as a continuation of the overall L&O parody, referencing those episodes which would end with the District Attorney receiving a phone call that would provoke one of these instead of closing with a Schiff One-Liner.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Jeff points out to Annie that in her desire to win she stopped caring about finding out the truth.
  • Whole Plot Reference: It's Law & Order: Greendale Community College.
  • You Have 48 Hours: Shirley sends Troy and Abed off with the advice they have 48 hours before the trail goes cold.
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