'Community' recap: Beneath the pale moonlight

Up, down, up, down, as the quality of Community spins round and round. Off of last week’s celestial episode, this week’s show was a return to Earth — with one very significant asterisk. I was ready to score the episode as mediocre, a “C+” if you will, and then out of nowhere came a three-minute sequence that pretty much redeemed everything before it. You know the one. It involved a rendition of the Oscar-nominated “Somewhere Out There” from the 1986 toon An American Tail — a song that had been secretly tucked away in my childhood subconscious, just waiting to be summoned. There was something touching about how sweetly Abed and Troy sang the duet to their escaped lab rat, Fievel (another American Tail reference), and how the show used that musical cue to tie together both Shirley’s triumph in her marketing class (via the assistance of Pierce) and Señor Chang’s reunion with his estranged wife (via the assistance of Jeff). Sure, it was all kinds of artificial cheese, but the climax worked because we somehow cared for this zany group of multicultural and multigenerational misfits. Now, which Community writer was 8 years old in 1986?

Five best non-American Tail moments after the jump:

1. Dean Pelton (the underrated Jim Rash) had thousands of posters made announcing the school’s “Green Week” name change to Envirodale Community College. When Starburns points out that the college was already called Greendale, Pelton turns to his assistant…

Dean Pelton: We need to redo these.

Assistant: We printed 5,000.

Dean Pelton: Well, print 5,000 more. I’m trying to save the planet here!

2. Annie wants Jeff to convince Señor Chang to cancel their 20-page punishment assignment. “You have to get Chang to call off some of this homework — you’re the one with the silver tongue,” Annie says to Jeff. Pierce, in agreement, adds: “Yeah, go tongue Chang!” Something tells me Chang wouldn’t entirely mind.

3. Annie: “Guess what, handsome hobo, your gravy train’s leaving the station. Chugga, chugga, chugga, chugga, chugga, chugga, chugga, chugga, chugga, chugga, woo, woo!” Make note, that was 10 chuggas and two woos. I look forward to seeing the animated GIF.

4. In what may be Community‘s strangest moment so far, Dean Pelton is watching this creepy Dalmatian-Man video and says, “This better not awaken anything in me.”

5. Pierce: “You know what happens when you lock your knees? You die.”

So, with the “Somewhere Out There” number thrown in, last night’s episode gets bumped up to a “B”. PopWatchers, grab your grading pens and tell us what you thought.

Comments (65 total) Add your comment
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  • Tom Brazelton

    As much as I like Joel McHale, I think Danny Pudi and Donald Glover are the break-out stars of this show. Their unnatural chemistry together is always fun to watch. After they rescued their rat Fievel and gathered up with the rest of the group, I about passed out from laughter when Glover delivered the line “We found our rat and Abed is going to shut up about it now!” He said it both cheerfully and fearfully. Great delivery.

    • Elizabeth

      I totally agree with you Tom: Abed & Troy are my favorite part of the show, and that’s pretty tough to pick over Jeff, Shirley, or even Senor Chang/Cheng.

      And now I have “Somewhere Out There” stuck back in my head again.

    • EL

      I almost fell off the sofa during the scene when Troy jumped up on the table screaming like a 5 year old girl in the biology lab

      • WayBeyondSoccerMom

        I would love to know if this episode was filmed before or after Aaron Carter’s girly scream on “Dancing with the Stars” since McHale has been joking about it ever since, including this Friday’s “flash mob” of Aaron’s scream on “The Soup”.

  • harry

    Donald Glover FTW!!!!

    • Nick

      The boy’s got talent!

  • Cris

    While I certainly wouldn’t argue against Donald Glover and Danny Pudi, I find that I’m enjoying the Annie-centered episodes the most. Alison Brie is terrific and I’m loving the episodes where they really let her step to the forefront … though I suppose it’s safe to say that every one of the “supporting” cast deserves his or her time as the focus of a few shows, rather than as a sideplot, as Shirley was this week.

  • thwarted

    love McHale — always — but Ken Jeong is my new favorite. loved the essay rant last night!

  • Naynay

    Another week and no complaints. I like the the show is focusing less on Jeff and more the group as a whole. Jeff is great and I guess he is the “leader” of the misfits, but it’s great to see everyone else’s stories as well. I give this episode a B+

  • j

    I enjoy all of the characters. Yeah the show has weak moments but it something about it that I cannot stop watching.

  • Collin

    I think you guys are sticking to closely to this pre-conceived week on week off scenario. I thought this weeks as just as good as last, and I find the show to be pretty consistent.

  • BinderClip

    Of course the reviewer would not like this weeks episode!
    why oh why do i read these reviews?
    So I just had to write to tell John Young – get thee to another TV show!

  • Sara

    Totally agree that “Somewhere Out There” made this episode for me – it was funny, but not quite as awesome as last week, until we got to this duet. Troy and Abed are amazing.

  • colin

    Thank you for bringing up that Dalmatian-Man thing! What the heck was that? Awesome, but what the heck?

    • Mothra

      Yeah, Colin, right on! And why the face? It’s not suitable for minors?? Why not? Weird.

  • griff

    I loved the part where Annie did the train and then Troy cuts in to the effect of “ignore her we are being serious”

  • kim in kentucky

    Can we please have Chevy Chase stop being clumsy (falling over stuff, etc) – just to remind us that he is Chevy Chase??

    • Micah

      While I will always enjoy Chevy Chase, I have to agree with you to a certain extent. His pratfalls have been contrived to the point of existing merely because that is what Chase is known for. He has lost the ease with which he used to do such stunts, though. Fletch and Fletch Lives are two awesome movies that showcased his talent.

  • tggolden83

    How about Jeff’s chair? I thought Pierce’s attempt ot be like him, the group’s response to it and his comment about Jeff’s “secret” were great! But yeah, Abed and Troy make me laugh just by giving each other a look. Talented guys those two!

    • pulpiteer

      Is there not the potential of something deeper–at least in Jeff’s mind–about Pierce knowing “his secret” about “the chair”? As in Jeff’s connections and all the test answers from the first ep? Or am I hoping for even more goodness out of a great episode?

    • Ember

      I didn’t get what “the secret” was with the chair. Was it rigged, causing Pierce to fall over?

      • Marti W

        I think the only ‘secret’ was in Pierce’s mind. Plus, I loved the brief wtf look on Jeff’s face when Pierce mentioned it. It was just a tossaway bit.

      • Rosa W.

        Okay this explanation is going to be a tad long due to the “complexity” of the joke, so just bare with me. :)

        At the beginning of the ep. Pierce tells a joke about Senor Chang, “If he gets any nuttier, they’re going to put him on The View,” he gets blank stares from everyone. Jeff comes in a little while later and sits in his (Jeff’s) chair and tells the same joke which makes everyone bust out laughing. After Jeff left the group, Pierce sits in Jeff’s chair and tells a Jeff-esque joke but this time the group laughs. So, in Pierce’s mind the reason why the group finds Jeff so funny is because of where Jeff sits. HTH

  • Dwight Fart Schrute

    I barfed at the musical number. Worst Community ever!

  • RARA

    Line of the night for me came from Shirley. “Speaking as one of the meek, as soon as I inherit the earth you are a dead man!” I love her!

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