A review of last night's strong "Community" coming up just as soon as I die from a lack of service...
I've talked a lot in these "Community" reviews about the dangers of trying to force an Unresolved Sexual Tension situation when the chemistry's lacking, as it was with Jeff and Britta. "Romantic Expressionism" kind of brilliantly reacts to that concern by creating UST between every single member of the group, regardless of gender, age, or Pierce-ness. (Okay, so maybe Pierce-ness is still a problem for the rest.) I doubt the series is going to follow up on most of the potential combinations we saw in that hilarious staring contest scene at the library - unless NBC pushes for the Annie-Britta one to goose the male demo numbers, that is - but at least they're out there now, and the characters have accepted that they're not really a family, but a collection of unattached, consenting-but-weird adults.
And I will also admit this: Jeff and Britta were great together last night. Not necessarily in a "now they are clearly meant to hook up" way, but just as comedy partners. Britta opposing Jeff's antics in the early episodes was a cliche, and it also didn't serve Gillian Jacobs very well. But having them work towards the same goal - in this case, protecting Annie from "gateway douchebag" Vaughn - with markedly different levels of skill at manipulation was very funny, and the first time in a while that I enjoyed them as a duo, sexual tension or not. Give us a few more stories like this for the pair, and I might stop objecting to the idea that they're each other's romantic density, even if I don't know how necessary it is.
At the same time, Alison Brie was on fire (as she's been for most of the season), regardless of which character Annie was paired with, be it Vaughn (who turned out to be just simple, but not bad, in the end), Troy (being hilariously gross as he tried to mark his territory with her, and calling back to his obsession with "butt stuff" from the psychology episode), Jeff(*), Britta, etc. And seeing Annie absolutely melt in response to Vaughn's song was a reminder that, for all the pop culture references, meta jokes and withering sarcasm, "Community" is a show with a lot of heart, and the kind that rarely feels as forced as it does on some other sitcoms.
(*) I don't think it was an accident that, in the staring scene, Annie's gaze lingered on Jeff for a very long time, given the abundant sparks between the two in the debate episode. I wonder if, in retrospect, the writers regret making Annie so young, as it makes a potential Jeff/Annie romance kind of icky. On the other hand, they seem to be having a lot of fun with the characters' awareness of the icky of it.
The B-story was a simple but effectively funny one, showing old man Pierce's struggle to adapt to yet another college ritual: snarking on bad movies in someone's dorm room. The "Kick-Puncher" movies were amusingly awful in their own right, as were many of the comments, but Pierce's need to hire a writing team was a great touch (as were complaints like, "What are you, my third wife's therapist?"), and then we got another vintage, slightly meta(**) Chevy Chase fall where he knocked down lots of things and made everybody laugh.
(**) This week's winner for meta humor, though, was Vaughn referring to Shirley as "that Sherry Shepherd lady."
What did everybody else think?