23
Sep
2010
Community: Season 2, Episode 1
Anthropology 101
Jordan
And we're back. So opens Season 2 of Community, beginning with a meta gag, rather than the far less popular whimper opening. What follows is a very cool opening shot, which pans across each of the character's rooms, reacquainting us with our cast of characters as they prepare for a new school year at Greendale Community College. Last year, Community was the best new comedy by leaps and bounds (and perhaps even the best comedy on television last season), yet it ended on a rather weak note with a series of forced cliffhangers. You may recall that Britta declared her love for Jeff, and Jeff kissed Annie out in the parking lot. "Anthropology 101" has to deal with the aftermath of both of those events, while simultaneously inroducing the show and its premise to new viewers its hoping to catch (this show really needs the ratings, people. So watch it, and tell your friends to. It will hurt me if it gets cancelled). Oh, and it also needs to be funny. So its no small feat that the show does all of this with barely a missed step.

Britta arrives at school petrified that everyone will mock her for her declaration of love, only to find out that her honesty has made her popular, and that everyone hates Jeff for rejecting her. She has also realized that she does not in fact love Jeff (in all likelihood because the writers realized that was a stupid forced cliffhanger), but cannot admit that lest she lose the favor of everyone around her. Jeff, not to be outdone, pretends that he is in love with Britta as well, and the two embark on a faux-mance (get it?) for the ages, complete with an almost wedding and a George Clooney impersonator (who can also do some lines from Batman and Robin). While Britta and Jeff stubbornly attempting to one up each other is fun, the best part of this subpolt has to be Annie, who is not so secretly still infatuated with Jeff and finds his relationship with Britta, fake though it may be, excruciating to watch.

The show smartly avoided trying to shoehorn in much of a B-story, which likely would have overcrowded the episode, and instead tied the A-Story into the study group's first class together, the titular Anthropology, taught by stunt-casted omnipresent octagenarian Betty White. White basically did a variation on her "old lady makes inappropriate comments" character that she's been playing for as long as I've been alive, but with a distinctly Community twist. Instead of talking about sex and drugs, she drank her own urine and created a mega weapon out of the nine tools she gave her "tribes" to survive. When Jeff tries to outsmart the assignment (which is totally in character) by claiming that the key to survival is respect, White pulls out her mega weapon and attacks him with it. As she strangles him, he gasps, "I respect you" and she wails, "That's why you fail!"

The rest of the cast didn't have much to do but react tonight, but because this is an excellent ensemble, each had plenty of hilarious moments nevertheless. As I said above, this premiere was likely more aimed at attracting new viewers to the show, and may even have played better to the unindoctrinated, but there were plenty of in-jokes for those of us who have been counting down the days to this premiere since Jeff and Annie locked lips last May. This episode had to clear up the cliffhangers, introduce its premise, and be hilarious, but because its Community it did one more thing. It reminded us that more than just a premise and some excellent jokes, it is a comedy that is actually about something, which is a very rare thing indeed. This show is about second chances, about the ability to remake yourself, and about the power of friendship to help you understand your self worth (I promise I'm not just making up themes here). Community has a stellar first season, and "Anthropology 101" gives me every reason to think that Season 2 will be as good. It may even be better.

Grade: B+

Notes:

-I liked Donald Glover wearing the Spider Man shirt in the opening, in reference to his failed Internet campaign to be cast as the new Peter Parker. Giving the show credit for mocking a failed internet campaign in the same episode that Betty White guest starred, riding high off of the success of a campaign dedicated to her may be giving the show a bit too much credit for comedic brilliance. But I wouldn't put it past them to pull a gag that layered.

-"We're like Batman and Shaft!"

-"Hey Toy Stor-...Britta!"

-Starburns added a hat!

-Abed wants to move away from the soapy relationships and tell more self contained stories. I kind of hope the show balances serialization with the occasional self-contained episode.

-Betty White said sister raping. She still has the ability to shock me to laughter. "You will also have to make a diorama."

-Jeff and Britta's kiss was maybe the most awkward thing ever. Especially as a heartbroken Annie watched from in between them and was obscured by their tongues touching.

-"Shirley, would you consider spinning off with me? We could open a beauty salon." "I don't understand. Is this you being met-ta?

-"Maybe its the telescope. You can look through it backwards, shrink your enemies!"

-"Sorry I'm late. I was in my car loving Britta."

-I loved when Annie and Shirley made the exact same noises for exact opposite reasons at Jeff and Britta's marriage announcement.

-"Anyone object to us being referred to as donuts? No one?"

-"He thinks all dogs are boys and all cats are girls!" "There's no way to dispute that. Have you ever seen a cat penis?"

-"your cute 'I can't tell TV from real life' gimmick is so Season One!"

-"The most important tool is respect." "Ha! Gaaaaaaaaaaay!"

-"How abour "Old White Man Says" the tv show?" "Who would watch that?"

-"is there any room in this pocket for a little spare chang?"

-Chang's Lord of Th Rings homage was easily the most absurd thing in an episode that had Betty White building a mega weapon and strangling Jeff. Also, it was hilarious.

-Nice rap from Troy and Abed, yet again. "Dogs used to eat me, but now they bring the paper in."
Tags: Community
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