Something weird happened near the end of last year’s TV season. NBC’s old guard of great sitcoms, The Office and 30 Rock, got utterly outclassed by upstart newcomers Community and Parks & Recreation, both of which were consistently smarter, funnier, and more inventive by the end of their seasons than either of their older siblings. Unfortunately, the ratings disagree with me on that, at least when it comes to Parks & Rec, which got pushed back to spring 2011. However, Community came back last week with a season opener that only confirms its spot as the show most worthy of inheriting Arrested Development‘s crown as the critical darling of the sitcom world.
This episode saw the Spanish 101 study group reunite (though not to study Spanish, since Señor Chang got stripped of everything and is now a student just like the rest of the group) and work through the events of last year’s finale – namely, Britta telling Jeff she loved him and him throwing her over, compounded by Jeff kissing Annie (which no one knows about and Jeff is now calling a mistake).
The jokes fly so fast and furious here that I could barely catch them all in time to laugh, and they’re so smart that I wanted to rewind every few minutes just to experience them again. Donald Glover as Spider-Man for half a second. Old White Man Says. Betty White as a rather intense Anthropology teacher. The most awkward kiss ever. Abed’s unrelenting and awesome meta commentary. So many more moments that I’d have to watch it again to see. And I probably will. Because it’s that brilliant. This show knows exactly where the funny is, and it goes for it every time, and trusts you to hang on to your hat and keep up with it.
If they can keep up this level of writing, I can almost guarantee you that Community will be my #1 show by the end of this year. And if it gets shut out at the Emmys again, so help me, I will…be very angry about it.