By John Young
Updated February 05, 2010 at 09:50 PM EST
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From start to finish, last night’s Community provided 22 minutes of effortless comedy. The episode, “Romantic Expressionism,” may have never quite reached the highs of “Football, Feminism, and You” or “Debate 109,” but it never faltered either. The whole thing went down as easy as pumpkin pie, which makes me want to say that Community is hitting its stride. I’ve said that before, though, only to be disappointed by an unexpectedly sour episode, but I’m hoping the series has finally rid itself of any initial hiccups. Everything seems to be clicking now, especially the cast’s ability to gracefully riff off of each other’s quips. And without venturing into gooey sentimentality, Community has surprisingly become somewhat sweet — last night ended with Annie and Vaughn embracing one another in a spinning hug while being serenaded by a pop score that Sufjan Stevens would have dug. In fact, the only negative thing I can say about “Romantic Expressionism” was the complete absence of Dean Pelton (Jim Rash), who’s quickly become the show’s clutch supporting player.

Best moments, as usual, after the jump:

1. This was Vaughn’s third appearance on Community, and while he turned me off the last time he appeared, the guy completely won me over last night. I dug his earnestness when teaching Annie about his guitar: “That’s G, the most important chord. In my mind, it stands for God.”

2. Annie gave Britta a high-five, which Britta turned into a snake (this is the first time I’ve ever seen this done — is turning a high-five into a snake common practice and I just don’t know about it?). Anyhow, it wasn’t Britta’s snake dance that produced the laugh, but rather the way Annie said “Cooooool” as if she were shivering in a rainstorm. Quite adorable.

3. Pierce’s first attempt to make a joke while the gang watches Kick Puncher, about a cyborg cop “whose punches have the power of kicks!” In the movie, the police yelled, “Freeze, police,” and Pierce interjected, “Don’t do that — they’ll get cold!”

4. Vaughn: “Actually, everyone is my bro in the whole entire universe because everything is connected. Rocks… eagles… hats.”

5. After both Annie and Troy individually stormed into the library to yell at Britta and Jeff for trying to manipulate their love life, some old guy named Leonard also barged in to shout, “Hey guys, thanks for eating all the macaroni!” Jeff then admitted to Britta that he did, in fact, eat all of the macaroni.

6. The gang was about to watch Runaway, a movie in which Tom Selleck fights mechanical spiders. But Pierce had prepared jokes for Kick Puncher 2, so he made up this reason as to why they couldn’t watch Runaway: “My brother died on the set of that movie! One of the mechanical spiders just went haywire and tore him to pieces, and Tom Selleck just stood there and watched him die.” And here’s where I admit that I thought Runaway wasn’t a real film, only to learn that it was actually released in 1984.

7. Pierce: “What’s the matter? Mama Chang didn’t breast feed?”

Chang (with sad puppy-dog eyes): “She read in a book that it wouldn’t make a difference.”

8. The great scene in the library where everyone started looking at one another as potential sexual partners. This was preceded by Abed commenting that “When you guys first came in, we were as wholesome and healthy as the family in The Brady Bunch, and now we’re as dysfunctional and incestuous as the cast of The Brady Bunch.”

9. Jeff to Annie: “You started having sex with Britta’s ex-boyfriend!”

Annie: “What? We haven’t even kissed.”

Pierce: “That doesn’t mean you’re not having sex.”

10. The end-credits sequence, in which Troy starred in Abed’s short film as Kick Puncher, and Abed played all the other characters, including the romantic interest. Upon seeing Abed dressed in drag, Troy asked, “You sure Britta couldn’t do your part?” Abed replied, “I asked her, she wasn’t available.” And then, with a sigh, Troy responded, “Let’s go film the sex scene.”

PopWatchers, was this as good of an episode for you as it was for me? Do you guys wish Kick Puncher were an actual movie? And should I seek out Runaway?

Update: Thanks to “Brad in Ohio” for pointing out a mistake in the quote used for #10. I rewatched the clip, and Troy did say “Britta” and not “Michelle.” I honestly have no idea how I even heard the latter.

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Joel McHale and Alison Brie star in this comedy about a community college study group that turns into a surrogate family.
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