|written by Garrett Donovan & Neil Goldman; directed by Anthony Russo|
starring Joel McHale, Chevy Chase, Gillian Jacobs, Alison Brie, Danny Pudi,
Donald Glover, Yvette Nicole Brown, Jim Rash, Ken Jeong & John Goodman
Goodman and his sonorous voice made a good impression as an antagonist for the Dean, and the introduction of an ex-con biology teacher called Professor Kane (The Wire's Michael Kenneth Williams) was also appreciated—although one has to wonder if the joke of having "Omar" playing an intimidating educator is going to be all that amusing after awhile. For now, MKW had an amusing scene while being rudely interrupted by Jeff's (Joel McHale) phone during a highfaluting speech in class, and I'm hopeful for more.
As usual, the episode managed to cram in plenty of amusing pop-culture jokes and geeky references. Most notably an outstanding parody of 2001: A Space Odyssey after Jeff was knocked out by gas, imagining the Kubrick classic's mysterious denouement with him as spaceman Dave Bowman, and the wooden study room table replacing the iconic Monolith. A little dumber was a parody of Downton Abbey, re-imagined to be the British antecedent of Abed's (Danny Pudi) beloved Cougar Town, which Abed became addicted to, until Cougarton Abbey's six episodes were exhausted, leading him onto a shoestring-budgeted Doctor Who clone called Inspector Spacetime. (Atrocious attempts at English accents throughout, as per usual.)
It was a "getting the gang back together" episode, at heart, featuring a fair amount of exposition, but it all slipped by very enjoyable because Community has such a flair for creativity. You never quite know what you're doing to get with this show every week, which is all part of the joy. Stop-motion animation? An extended Dungeons & Dragons riff? A paintball epic inspired by action movies? A clever parody of a little-known '80s arthouse movie? The sky's the limit! You just know it'll be diverse, energetic, geek-friendly, and cause just as many belly laughs as wry smiles. I'm so glad this show and these characters are back to brighten my week.
22 September 2011 / NBC