'Community' recap: One semester down, one to go

Ah, the Christmas episode — a rite of passage for all sitcoms. How did Community handle the holiday challenge? Swell, for the most part. The episode had a few missteps, namely the alarmingly unfunny character of Mike the Bully (Anthony Michael Hall) and the show’s decision to excessively emphasize Shirley’s lack of religious tolerance (I truly doubt she’d be that insistent about forcing Christmas on her friends). But I can brush aside the occasional (or even frequent) defect if Community continues to deliver one of television’s most charismatic cliques. After the group’s colossal fight with Mike’s thugs, our ragtag protagonists returned to the library’s conference room. Then the camera panned around the room, showing each character’s triumphant battle scars, and at that moment, it became clear to me yet again — I dig this family of losers. I was not the most forgiving of critics as the series struggled to take its first baby steps, but Community has more or less found its footing by now, and I’ll definitely be enrolling for next semester. How about you, PopWatchers?

After the jump, last night’s sweetest lines (Pierce was the episode’s MVP):

1. Not wanting to offend anyone, Dean Pelton rode into the cafeteria as the non-denominational Mr. Winter. His holiday greeting: “Ha, ha, ha… Merry Happy!” Of all things, a sign-language interpreter closely followed the dean — a priceless touch.

2. Pierce: “That guy wasn’t gay. He had a mustache.”

3. Jeff was taking his Spanish final when he read out loud the possible answers for a question: “True or false, or none of the above? That doesn’t make any sense!” Cut to SeƱor Chang mischievously stroking his imaginary beard.

4. Pierce shortly after his Spanish exam: “Well, I aced it, amigo. That means cousin.”

5. Pierce being racist to Troy: “I assume you’re handy with a switchblade.”

6. Pierce being racist to Abed: “You get back to the family tent and try to find a chicken for Jeff to chase.”

7. Shirley can’t believe Jeff is agnostic. “You think religious is stupid?” she asked Jeff, who responded with this extended metaphor: “To me, religion is like Paul Rudd. I see the appeal, and I would never take it away from anyone. But I also would never stand in line for it.” All right, let’s start the campaign for Paul Rudd guest starring as a religion professor now.

8. Abed: “I get 72 virgins in heaven.”

9. Mike the Bully’s sole memorable line: “Look, if this dude doesn’t show up, we’re definitely going to Applebee’s tonight. I’m getting into a fight no matter what today.”

10. Throughout the episode, Britta annoyingly argued that fights were a way for men to “release their pent-up gayness.” But the moment Mike’s gang took off their shirts and started flipping in the air to the tune of Florence and the Machine’s “Kiss with a Fist” — well, let’s just say that moment made up for all of Britta’s prior nagging.

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  • Sean Mc

    Love this show. It’s been the most consistently funny thing on Thursday nights this season. Hope they can keep it up.

  • Ambient Lite

    I had to give up on Community after the first few episodes. It’s just unwatchable. I love Joel McHale, but our relationship is limited to The Soup.

    • John

      You didn’t give up commenting on episodes you didn’t watch though . . . good for you! Stay committed!

      • Ambient Lite

        heh, thanks, I will!

      • shelby

        LMAO!!!

    • sparkle the gym bag

      ambient I love your post on most of these blogs seldom agree but you are usually funny….watch last night’s on Hulu it IS FUNNY

  • Paola

    I cackled thruout the entire ep. Community is the silliest and surprisingly sweetest comedies I’ve seen in years. Just seeing Senor Chang sit back while wearing that hat had me going the rest of my nite. ‘I’ll allow it’ COME ON, lol. As for Anthony Michael Hall. My life is a gym!

    • Maserda

      Yeah, Senor Chang during the final exam was funny… lol. Particularly how he’s eating chips during the confrontation, entranced with the scene unfolding in front of him.

      • Cheri

        Senor Chang is the best. I love him!

    • Sara

      I IMDB shows and people sometimes, and I looked at Ken Jeong’s page. The man is a doctor. Not an honorary degree, not a Ph.D. A medical doctor, from a good school. Whenever he does something ridiculous (good or bad) I just have to remind myself that he’s a doctor.

      • Ambient Lite

        This is true. I heard him talk about it when he was being interviewed for his role in The Hangover.

      • mkaffeine

        AND he played the OB in “Knocked Up”!

      • Rich

        Pretty sure he got the bit part on Knocked Up BECAUSE he was a medical doctor. It was just supposed to be one line, but he gave them so much great off-the-cuff material, they expanded his character.
        And from there, a new career!!

      • Katrinka

        I remember seeing Ken Jeong on “The View” years ago when they were having a comedy contest for America’s funniest doctor. He only had a two minute bit, but I recall laughing throughout the whole thing.

        How many actors can say their fallback plan is medical doctor?

      • Sizzle

        “Not an honorary degree, not a Ph.D.” Yea, because those two degrees are almost the same.

      • Elizabeth

        Same as Matt Iseman on “Clean House”. You can sometimes see him wearing a shirt that says “I’m a doctor but I don’t play one on TV.” They’re both hilarious.

    • KRibbons

      Anthony Michael Hall as the bully was HILARIOUS!!!!! I don’t know what the recapper is talking about. He was SO funny!!!!

  • Maserda

    I thought the episode was cute. Perhaps not the best one to introduce my husband to (the Halloween one was the best, too bad it isn’t on the DVR). So we’ll be seeing Spanish 102?

  • Paola

    Huge bonus points for Florence & The Machine. The music supervisor from Grey’s Anatomy should get a tutorial from the one that runs things here.

  • Joel

    Community is my new favorite show this year. I love it. BUUUUT….this episode was the absolute worst one yet. I found it completely telling that the one supposed “Christian” character on the show was the one that was represented as intolerant. Of course most people will not even look close enough to make that connection but its just amazes me that this is what “religion” in America has come to. Muslims, Hindus and freaking cults are all ok, but Christians are just freaking intolerant. I just dont get it.

    • The Dude

      That’s what you got from the episode? The show was equally abusive to all the religions. When Abed mentioned his 72 virgins the group just about laughed at him. When Pierce mentioned he was a level 5 buddhist they accused him of being in a cult. Jeff was attacked for copping out by being agnostic.

      They were all equally abused last night, that was the beauty of it.

    • John

      In a way, that’s the least offensive option – let the character representing the majority religion be the intolerant one, since we all of plenty of examples of tolerant ones in our day-to-day lives.

    • Jared

      Awww.. Poor Christians.. Are you kidding me?? The other religions barely ever get play in the world of entertainment. So you get one episode where they are presented as people who try to convert people to their “correct religion”.. Oh wait.. That is the case.. As a person of Jewish “faith” we do not try to do this, and while you might not like the insinuation put forth, to post this as the reason you didnt like episode.. You need to start rethinking things..

      • Jared

        not to say that all christians are like that.. sorry to make it sound like that..

      • The Dude

        Also I don’t really think Shirley was so much intolerant of the other religions as she was shocked that so many of the people she considers friends happened to be of different faiths. It just never crossed her mind that they weren’t Christians.

      • Sarah

        I agree with The Dude but I think it also comes down to the fact that it was her first Christmas since her husband left her and she didn’t have anyone to share it with.

    • Cris

      Knew this had to be coming. It’s fine that there’s a character who constantly makes off-colored black and Arab jokes, but when Christianity is the butt of the joke, THEN it’s a problem.

      • sanen85

        Word

      • Nicole

        Word squared. Plus, it was nice to see an athiest presented as a normal person (and in fact the one who talked sense into everyone at the end). Athiesm gets a bad rap and athiests are often protrayed as freaks, but in fact most of us are normal everyday average people.

      • S

        The term is, erm, “off color”…I’m not trying to be a jerk, correcting you– I just figured, if you’re going to be corrected, I would step up in and do it in a nice way…because some of these people are easily offended and meeeeean.

      • Nicole

        Portrayed, not protrayed. Whoops – apparently some athiests can’t spellcheck properly. :)

    • sparkle the gym bag

      would your “boss” post that? I think not

      • saintofE69th

        too funny sparkle plus atheists dude/dudette ur going to hell..just kidding..maybe..not sure..hades? purgutory..cleveland?

  • The Dude

    Best episode so far. Jeff’s metaphor for religion was great, and pretty much my views on it as well.

    I don’t know why you continue to hate on Britta. I thought her opinion on men fighting was spot on. Watch a real wrestling match sometime and tell me she isn’t right.

    And Chevy Chase was great last night, definitely the MVP of the show so far.

  • J.P.

    As the fight started and the shirts came off, Britta’s “Come on, I’m being punked, right?” was awesome.

    The best, though, was Shirley trying to get everyone to sing “Jesus is a Friend of Mine.” Why? Look up the original video, by Sonshine,on YouTube. Gotta love the things Community’s writers pick up on…

    • Tanna

      You are right on, JP, that was Britta’s best moment to date.

  • mkaffeine

    All of Britta’s comments were worth it for her saying “Am I being ‘Punk’d’?” when the shirts came off. My fave moment, though, was the clique’s reaction to Jeff saying he was an Agnostic: the balled up paper and the collective “what a wuss!” reaction.

  • BP

    I fricken LOVE this show. I laughed so hard the cat got mad and jumped off the couch. This show gets better and better every week.

  • Kim

    Come on – I can’t believe you left out Troy’s response to Abed’s “asa a malakam” – “shama lama ding dong”. That is totally going to be my new thing. Oh, and Britta’s punk’d line was right up there.

    • Shannon

      And what about his response to Pierce’s diversion with the group of Black girls? “Why they had to be black?” That was hilarious. Troy is hilariously nutty. And I almost missed it when Pierce gave Jeff his first punch to the face. “You’re welcome.” That was awesome.

  • Al

    When Community started it was just okay. Then it was brilliant with the Halloween episode. Then awful with the Jeff is homeless epoisode. Now it’s just okay again. It has enough good moments to keep me watching. It could be “30 Rock” or “Arrested Development” but it’s just not going to be that good on a coinsistent basis.

  • bunker

    The fight scene was hilarious. This show does a great job at building to a hilarious climax n almost every episode.

  • Doug

    How can you forget “Asalamadingdong”?

    • Cheri

      Yeah – that made me laugh out loud!

  • Cheri

    I have to admit that I didn’t really like this show in the beginning. It was my husband who wanted to keep watching – but now I look forward to seeing it each week. I love Joel, of course. He is the real reason this show is a success – the rest of them are growing on me.

    As for AMH – I love him, but not in this role. They had so many chances to use him in a much more funny way: A Breakfast Club revisited moment, The Freshman of 16 Candles moment – even a National Lampoon’s Vacation reunion type moment. What a waste!What were they thinking?

    • Lynny

      omg I didn’t even think about the fact that that was Rusty Griswold!!!!

      • saintofE69th

        yea dam they should have at least had a Clark/Rusty moment..likme “hey don’t I know you” or I have a daughter/sister named audrey!!! that would have rocked

    • El

      But they made a comment about how a guy like that was probably a dork in high school. I took that as a funny reference to some of AMH’s old movies.

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