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An Introduction to Community's "Introduction to Teaching"

"There’s a prevalent school of thought among comic book nerds that believes that Superman is only interesting when he’s lost his powers in some way. When he’s able to defeat any problem with some heat vision or ice breath, he’s boring."
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If you want to read my rationalization for why I’m doing a marathon of Community episode recaps, click here.

If you want to know way more than you ever should about the wonderful new season of Community, keep reading.

Episode 5, Season 2: “Introduction to Teaching”

There’s a prevalent school of thought among comic book nerds that believes that Superman is only interesting when he’s lost his powers in some way. When he’s able to defeat any problem with some heat vision or ice breath, he’s boring.

And after 5 seasons of invincibility and bomb-diffusing monologues, Jeff Winger has lost his powers...

Now a teacher, the sexy co-eds he eyes seductively see him as a creep, and he’s rebuked for mocking Leonard. He’s not even able to take blow off classes! But as Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark have proven, you don’t need superpowers to be a superhero, you just need to be able to use the resources at your disposal in the best way possible. For Jeff, this means embracing the authority that comes with being a teacher, the power of breaking into groups, and the new fraternity of superfriend teachers — including their sweet new faculty lounge Hall of Justice.

His only weakness: an adamant, rebelliously-eager student named Annie Edison.

It’s interesting to see that their relationship — in however you want to define that word — hasn’t really been addressed after the post-Season 4 ret-con, though. The resolution to their “conflict" this episode was a bit weak, as it was all a tool to justify bringing Buzz — who has already been deemed possibly “the coolest person in the world — into the group as a bizzaro replacement for Pierce. Aside from their cartoonish role-reversal, we haven’t been given any clues to their feelings towards one another, and it’s unclear what lies ahead for these two close pals.

And speaking of Buzz Hickey...

Buzz Hickey is what Mike Erhmentraut would be if he had never compromised his morals and joined the meth game after he left the force. Instead of Mike The Badass brokering deals for mens' lives, we have Buzz who can’t handle the generic brand of Lipitor and whose slice-of-life speeches are cut short by impatient pharmacists named Leah. Set in the comic world of Greendale instead of the harsh New Mexican desert, his deadpan sternness is hilarious as opposed to chilling. I've got to say, it’s kind of a mindfuck to see a classic character be meta-parodied so quickly after we said goodbye to him. I’m on board though.

Unfortunately, our other favorite factually member Jim Rash is still overplaying his excitement and infatuation with Jeff, but I'm trying to remember that this is the dude who wrote The Descendants and The Way Way Back AND one of the only redeemable episodes of last season! He’s got more in him! I will say though, the French-subtitled ending was a great way of playing to his physical-comedy chops, and it’s definitely something we can build on in future episodes.

But anyway, I’ve been delaying something magical that happened in this episode: Abed’s Nicolas Cage impersonation...

Community is at it’s best when Harmon’s influence is most transparent, and getting introduced to a class called “Nicolas Cage: Good or Bad?” feels like stumbling upon a casual debate Harmon might have had with a friend (or himself).

Plus it sets the stage for Danny Pudi’s greatest performances as an actor...

We take it for granted that the naturally charming Pudi is able to constantly channel the awkward, robotic Abed, but watching him have a nervous breakdown over Nic Cage (a Cagedown) in front of the entire class was one to send to The Academy. I know that he is an actor playing a fictional character, but for a brief moment, I believed that he believed that he was Abed believing he was Nic Cage believing he was a cat. It was, to quote Professor Gaherty, brilliant.

And it’s notable that Hellraiser-fan Shirley is the one to come to aid of Abed afterwards. It’s a nice callback to the Season 2 theological episode “Messianic Myths and Ancient People” in which Shirley saves Abed from his disastrous film, ABED; she swallows her pride after empathizing with an atheist-in-a-foxhole Abed, and Abed in turn admits that she “humbles” him. Even though they are usually disparate characters, they both live their lives in accordance with a very strict belief system — for Shirley it’s Christianity and for Abed it’s his Asbergian meta-fixation with pop-culture — and they can relate to one another on that.

All in all, “Introduction to Teaching" was a kind of settling-in episode that didn’t have to live up to the crazy expectations of a series re-premiere, so therefore it wasn’t as flashy. There were consistent laughs though, and the novelty of seeing old faces in new scenarios hasn’t worn off. Speaking of, Fat Neil got a great haircut.

Grade: B+

Best Quotes:

"I can’t just pretend I’m teaching; I’m not myth busters.” - Jeff

“But is he good or is he bad? Every actor is something.  Robert Downey Jr: good. Jim Belucci: Bad, Jean-Claude Van Damme: the good kind of bad, Johnny Depp: the bad kind of good.” - Abed

“I may not love teaching, but I did fool around with it today, and I may hook up with it again a few more times even if I dump it right before Christmas.” - Jeff

“Et tu brute? Am I using that right?” - Troy
“It’s all based on rows and columns of cells! I think that’s why they call it Excel…”  - Dean Pelton

“Now I know it’s unrealistic to think we can eliminate riots completely, but I have been crunching the numbers and I believe we can reduce them by 40%” - Dean Pelton

“Ma, it’s Buzz. I’m going to say this as fast as I can. We can’t afford to bury Dad with the rest of the family.” - Buzz Hickey