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Recap / Community S 3 E 17 Basic Lupine Urology

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"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:
  • 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.
    • The show's normal credit fonts are replaced with the one from the L&O franchise.
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    • 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 Star-Burns' locker and therefore exigent circumstances.
    • It even goes to the set details and the way that scenes are shot and framed.
      • The scene with Neil inside the Administration office is shot like many, many scenes from Law & Order where someone has to pore through messy, unkempt paper records but quickly finds the correct one and gives them a new lead.
      • 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.
      • 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.
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    • The sudden twist phone call just before the credits where they learn of Star-Burns' death.
    • Leslie Hendrix, who plays medical examiner Elizabeth Rodgers in the Law & Order franchise, serves a similar purpose as a botanist who examines the "murdered" yams.
    • 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 Star-Burns 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.
  • 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.
  • Big Secret: After some chasing around Star-Burns confesses to the unrelated crime of setting up a meth-lab in the trunk of his car.
  • Black Boss Lady: Shirley takes on this role due to Genre Savvy status from watching police procedurals, acting virtually as L&O's Lt. Anita Van Buren.
  • Blatant Lies: Annie's slander of Todd in her cross-examination is a lie, but especially ballsy is her suggestion of Todd's virginity. Todd, it has been clearly established, is a father. (She could have been suggesting that he was a cuckold, though.)
  • 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, Star-Burns comes across them — and drops another three backpacks which he's obviously also stolen.
  • Call-Back:
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Todd is standing up to his uncle, the defense attorney, saying that he is not fighting his wars anymore.
  • The Cameo: Leslie Hendrix (who plays medical examiner 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: Star-Burns 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 Star-Burns.
  • 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.
    • Star-Burns also doesn't quite get why Quendra doesn't seem particularly keen on doing a Fake-Out Make-Out with him:
      Star-Burns: Kiss me!
      Quendra: What?!
      Star-Burns: I'll explain later!
      Quendra: No!
      Star-Burns: 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 Star-Burns' locker by saying there's a kitten in there.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Don't Answer That: When the defense attorney enters the scene, his first advice to Todd is not to answer any of Kane's questions.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Star-Burns.
  • Evidence Scavenger Hunt: The clues lead the cops from Pierce to Todd, to the key log, to Magnitude, to Star-Burns and back to Todd.
  • 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.")
  • Exploding Closet: Star-Burns' locker.
  • Expospeak Gag: The title more or less means "Study of Dick Wolf", the creator of Law & Order.
    • Alternately, it can be interpreted to mean "Study of Taking the Piss out of Wolf".
  • Enhance Button: Really just Britta using the zoom/enlarge function. She applies an "Old West color" (sepia) filter first.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Subverted. 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.
    Star-Burns: 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: Hey, hey. Forget him, he's the bad cop. But me, I'm a good cop, you can trust me.
    Abed: Sorry, my friend, he's a bad cop. I'm a good cop, you can trust me.
    Star-Burns: Okay, well—hey, I'm not falling for that! And you got nothing on me! And I don't have to stay here 'cause you're not cops!
  • Held Gaze: Jeff and Annie eye-sexin' it up whilst remaining late at school to go over the case.
  • Hello, Attorney!: Jeff and Annie suit up very nicely in this episode.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Shirley is disturbed to discover the Dean acting as Team Mom to Troy and Abed.
  • I Gave My Word: Troy and Abed promised Star-Burns 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 Know What We Can Do" 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!
  • I'm Standing Right Here:
    • During Star-Burns'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.
      Star-Burns: 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.
  • Implausible Deniability: 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
  • Inherently Funny Words: The word yam gets funnier and funnier every time it's mentioned, especially because everyone is so Serious Business about it.
  • Irony: Meta example. Pierce and Britta being Out of Focus this episode since among the study group, their actors were the only ones who have appeared in the Law & Order franchise prior to the show.
  • 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.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: 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!
  • 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."
  • 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 Star-Burns 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.
  • Mystery Episode: The study group investigates when their science project is destroyed, threatening their biology grade.
  • No Time to Explain: Subversion: As Star-Burns 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!: Star-Burns 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 Star-Burns 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 Star-Burns 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.
  • The Perry Mason Method: Annie uses this to get Todd to confess to dropping the yam.
  • Purely Aesthetic Glasses: Britta. And Troy setting up his trap at his library.
  • 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 Rain Man: 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.
  • Reveal Shot: Troy and Abed in their bunk bed. The next shot reveals they are sleeping in the study room.
  • Serious Business:
    • The sweet potato projects. In contrast the serious felonies Star-Burns is committing are quietly ignored, setting up the ending.
    • The pinky swear between Star-Burns, 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.
  • 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 Star-Burns 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.
  • Skewed Priorities: Star-Burns building a meth lab is less important than the question of who killed their yam.
  • Special Edition Title: In the L&O style, complete with the Power Walk at the end.
  • Stealth Pun: Star-Burns dies due to breaking badly.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: The culprit is discovered and justice is served... then comes a phone call that Star-Burns is dead.
  • Surprise Witness: A surprise attorney for Todd shows up.
  • 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.
  • Take That!: As part of her Unsportsmanlike Gloating the following was said to a military officer who fought in Iraq.
    Annie: Always have an an exit strategy.
  • Team Mom: Turns out the Dean gave Abed and Troy warm milk and sung them lullabies when they moved their beds to the library while their apartment was being fumigated. They stayed there even when the fumigation was done because of this. Regular Team Mom Shirley was very disturbed.
  • 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: In the hot-dog-stand scene the group crosses the street talking.
  • 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.


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