"Community" has been on a roll lately, after what some people said was a slow start to Season 3. The last two episodes were focused entirely on the core study group, with alternative formats that aren't usually tried on a mainstream sitcom, and everything worked. Thursday's episode, "Advanced Gay", brought things back to Greendale and expanded beyond the study group, but everything continued to work flawlessly, as the show referenced bits and lines from seasons gone by in a way that only it can.
There were three main stories going on in Thursday's episode:
- Hawthorne Wipes somehow became an icon in the gay community, leading to conflict between Pierce and his somehow still alive father
- THAT conflict led to issues between Jeff and Pierce's father, mostly because Jeff has daddy issues of his own
- In an unrelated story that somehow wove into the main story, Troy was recruited by the Air Conditioning repair school, and had to decide between a luxurious, but secret, life of air conditioning repair or life with his friends.
It might sound like hyperbole, but for the first half of this episode, literally every single line worked. Everything was funny, everything was snappy, and the stories were brilliant. That's not to say the second half was bad, but as stories needed to come to a resolution, things slowed down a bit, and it was running at about 85% joke efficiency, compared to the 193% efficiency of the first half.
There were two particular things I loved about this episode. The first was the continued callbacks to "Inspector Spacetime", the Doctor Who knockoff introduced in the season premiere. On a lesser show, this would have been forgotten about, or maybe referenced once or twice more throughout the season. But "Community" has made it a recurring part of Abed's character, something it does regularly with all the characters. The fact that Annie lives above Dildopolis in a horrible neighborhood could've been a one-episode throwaway joke, but it wasn't. Troy's plumbing (and now air conditioning) magic repair skills are as much a part of his character as anything else. Even Jeff's constant texting -- its this attention to detail that adds great layers to watching every episode of "Community".
The second thing I really loved is the casting of John Goodman as Vice Dean Laybourne of the Air Conditioning Repair Annex. In this episode, you really got a sense of just how ridiculous this character could have been if handled by someone else. But Goodman brings this natural sense of importance to the role, even as he's delivering lines in the most over the top way possible, so it all works. I thought he was good in the premiere, but in "Advanced Gay", he was great.
OK, now for the top lines of the episode, though I'm not sure anything topped Troy & Abed's secret handshake just being their normal handshake with the word "secret" whispered after it. I don't know exactly why, but that killed me. Also, there's probably even more I could have put in, but it would've turned into a transcript of the episode.
Pierce: I'm going to sue the pants off that lady.
Britta: I don't think that's a lady.
Troy: And why do you want his pants off?
Pierce: Shut up! I only wanted his pants off when I thought he was a lady.
Jeff: So you were attracted to him?
Pierce: The only thing I'm attracted to is taking him to court and eating his ass alive.
Pierce: That's not what I meant. Stop putting gay things in my mouth.
(and that's where I almost died of laughter).
Shirley: I'm always nice to the gays. They may live in defiance of God, but I'd die before I let a woman touch my hair.
Abed: I think I can explain. Pierce's positrons have been negatized, creating Anti-Pierce. It happens all the time in "Inspector Spacetime".
Troy: Yeah, but Anti-Inspector had a funny mustache, and was kind of rapey.
Laybourne: Why kidnap you? Why put a sack over your head and drag you here in the middle of the night? Why is there an astronaut in the corner making paninis? Simple. We don't want you to tell anyone about this. And if you do, we don't want them believing you. Isn't that right, Black Hitler?
Cornelius Hawthorne: These are your friends, Pierce? Minorities. Jewesses. And the unseasonably tan?
Shirley: Oh my goodness, he's like the Abed of racism.
Jeff: After "Britta was right", everything you said just sounded like a foghorn.
Laybourne: Ever hear of the expression "room temperature"?
Troy: Of course.
Laybourne: THIS is the room. This is THE room temperature room.
Troy: I can't tell where the air ends and my skin begins.
Abed: Are you Superman?
Abed: Would you tell me if you were?
Troy: I'd tell everyone. I never understood why he cared who knew.
(There's something about the way Donald Glover delivered that line, like he was somehow both baffled and disgusted by Superman having a secret identity, that was just brilliant).
Troy: I'm going to eat spaceman paninis with Black Hitler and there's nothing you can do about it!
And special credit goes to the ENTIRE tag. "The question isn't HOW old we are, but WHEN old we are." Holy crap it was awesome.