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.