Community, “Basic Rocket Science”: Hard to believe I’m not really not really in space.

Jean Claude van DAMME I love this show! This episode parodied space movies like Apollo 13 and Armageddon, as Greendale endeavored to become the first community college to put a man in space. And while they couldn’t get away with doing something this gimmicky every week, every once in awhile is just fine with me. I thought this episode was clever and fun and had that great balance of different types of comedy coming from every direction that keeps you, frankly, off balance.

I wasn’t sure at first how deep into the parody they were going to go, so I had to admire their commitment to putting these characters into hilariously implausible situations and then letting the absurdity of the situation drive the characters’ interactions. But as the episode progressed, and we saw more and more of the “space drama” scenes – Abed running the control room, Pierce succumbing to space fever, and the dean slamming down his, uh, personal map – I realized just how great this was going to be, mostly because the writers keep you guessing all the time.

It would’ve been perfectly acceptable within the parody for Chang to come up with some way to “reroute the power” and save the day, but the fact that Abed called out the fact that the power didn’t need to be rerouted was just fantastic. The writers keep you on your toes because they call themselves out on their insanity on occasion, usually just as you’re starting to buy in to the fantasy.

Am I making any sense here? Are these just the caffeine-fueled ramblings of a Joel McHale stalker, Community fangirl and fervent advocate for really good television? Perhaps, but anyone who isn’t watching this show should be, and if you do, and you don’t like it, well, then CBS has a lineup I think you’ll enjoy very much. Also, you probably suck.

This show really has mastered the formula, and that’s not to say that this is formulaic television, just that you have to get the right mix of all the elements to make a sitcom entertaining and edgy and relevant these days. It won’t translate to the written word, but Troy’s delivery of the line “How do you know it was our design? We submitted it anonymously. Whoops” was a perfect example of why this show is better than 97% of the other comedies in primetime. Because there is a very clear picture in my head of how Charlie Sheen’s character would’ve delivered that line on Two and a Half Men, and even with the laugh track, it makes me want to slit my wrists with the diamond-encrusted checks they use to pay those assholes. But Donald Glover’s delivery doesn’t – and I don’t know if that’s good acting or good directing (it’s not good writing, at least in this case, because that line is mediocre at best), but it’s something, and that something is what makes Community awesome.

Also, I’ve got news for all the kids out there: butt jokes, fart jokes, sex jokes and poop jokes never stop being funny. Your parents WANT to laugh at them, but they can’t because they have to set a good example. And while you can’t pack an entire show with them (or can you, Dane Cook?), you can trot them out on occasion and remind us all that it’s okay to be immature and silly and stupid and laugh at a flag designed to look like an anus as long as you know how to buckle down and steer that arrow into that moving rectangle when it really matters. This episode was a little light on the intellectual humor, but that’s okay because you know that they CAN do it – and do it well – when the situation calls for it.

It may not be strictly “intellectual humor” but I did enjoy the product integration piece for KFC. It’s a callback to the Snapple episode on 30 Rock, but hey – it works and it’s not overdone yet. So, bravo, Community. This episode was more enjoyable than a bucket of delicious chicken in original recipe or extra crispy, with a side of mashed potatoes, coleslaw, and a hot, buttery roll, enough to feed the whole family and all for a reasonable price at convenient locations across the country.


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