A.P. Bio’s sophomore episode see Jack Griffin’s (Glenn Howerton) lackadaisical teacher and his students clash with Principal’s Durbin (Patton Oswalt) and his need for order at all times.
Mr. Griffin keeps leaving his class unsupervised, which is highly frowned upon. A kid in his class gets hurt while Mr. Griffin was enjoying some Sun Chips in the Teacher’s Lounge. Because of this infraction, the Teacher’s Union Representative (Niecy Nash) is called in on Mr. Griffin’s behalf. Principal Durbin is not happy about this as he’s had issues with her in the past. She explains the options and Mr. Griffin ops to fight it, not because it’s the right thing to do, but because while it’s being litigated, he’ll be thrown in teacher jail. Teacher jail is a place where teachers being charged with infractions go because they can’t return to their classroom. They get paid their full salary while there, so this seems like the perfect place for Mr. Griffin to get his own work done. Meanwhile the students are trying to find the perfect replacement who can actually teach them biology. While vacationing in Teacher Jail, Mr. Griffin encounters a fellow philosophy enthusiast whose been placed here for tickling other teachers without consent. Mr. Griffin befriends this man, despite the fact that he comes across as a total creep. He offers to type up Mr. Griffin’s ideas for his philosophy book and the viewer quickly gets the impression that this “tickler” is up to something.
Principal Durbin has many opportunities to shine in this episode. Patton Oswalt perfectly captures the spirit of an educator who means well, wants to be strict, but just isn’t that intimidating. His verbal sparring with Kim, the Union Rep is great. We learn that they’ve had beef since their own high school days and even when scores some points, dissing her ability to sing, he doesn’t get the upper hand for long as he runs into a water fountain on his way back to the office. We get a glimpse of his Google history too as he apparently wanted to know “Kokomo, is it real?” In fact, some of the funniest moments stemmed from Kim. In a brilliant moment of dramatic irony, she gushes about how dedicated and caring Mr. Griffin is all while he’s brainstorming ideas for his book. He looks up for a moment and cements it with “I miss my little sweeties.”
Mr. Griffin and Principal Durbin had their fair share of comedic exchanges as well. A particularly funny one involved Mr. Griffin’s assertion that “These kids are old enough to get pregnant. We can’t leave them alone for two seconds?” to which Durbin replied, “That’s exactly why we can’t leave them alone.”
The most awkward moment of this episode involved Principal Durbin’s secretary, Helen DeMarcus (Paula Pell) trying to teach the kids biology. She made it way too personal and half of the information she delivered was comically wrong. Some of the questions that she asked the students were so inappropriate they probably could have landed her in the support staff version of Teacher Jail.
Continuing the theme from the last episode of showcasing the fact that Mr. Griffin does indeed have a heart, he begins to feel remorse for his actions once Durbin’s job is threatened by the Union Representative. He may not feel bad that he left his class alone too many times, but at least he doesn’t want to be responsible for an actual dedicated educator getting fired for no reason.
For the most part this episode fired on all cylinders for me. The lighting issues (mentioned in the previous review – in short it’s too damn bright and washed out) is just something that I’ll have to get used to as it’s clearly the aesthetic choice of the series. I did want to see more from the kids in this episode as they were such a joy last time.
From my classroom teacher perspective, most students usually love subs because they take it as a day off from regular work (despite the fact that it’s not supposed to be and teachers do leave work for them to do). To see the inverse play out was very refreshing, considering Mr. Griffin is highly unqualified to teach in general, let alone Biology. In fact, nothing about credentials came up other than he was a Harvard professor. I still hope to see that come in to play in the future, but for now the kids being extremely realistic is enough. I like how we see all types of students in his advanced class. They don’t feel like clones of each other, and even though not all the students have had a speaking role yet, you can tell by wardrobe and other small choices they are unique.
You can find A.P. Bio airing Sundays on NBC. The first three episodes are currently streaming on Hulu.