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Community Recap: Good Times!

We’ll admit it, Greendale fans: We were grumpy last week! And you took us to task in the comments for everything from failing to recognize Starburns to having actually written a critical recap instead of just posting a smiley face followed by “LOLZ!” Fair or unfair as these criticisms may have been, we knew the best way to make it all better wouldn’t be fake cheer, it would be for Community to deliver on its long-gestating promise and deliver a wall-to-wall strong episode. And maybe it’s just because we’ve spent the last seven days carefully manscaping our own starburns, but “Interpretive Dance” fit the bill. We liked this episode! A lot! Also: LOLZ!

The twin plots this week were fairly straightforward: Britta and Troy struggle with admitting their deeply felt, not-at-all-out-of-nowhere love of dance while Jeff struggles with his commitment issues in the form of sexy statistics professor Slater (note to commenters: WHOM WE RECOGNIZE FROM A PREVIOUS APPEARANCE). But nothing at all felt particularly forced. In fact, we felt this half-hour hit all of the marks that make Community so consistently great good. Including (but not limited to):

1. Joke strafing!
This is when they all sit around the table and toss off jokes like jokes are money and they are Pacman Jones in a Las Vegas Strip Club (Too soon? Too late?). Ya know, “My third wife was biracial!”; “Wrong, Pierce, it’s two guys!”; “Confidentiality Spice!” Some hit their targets. Some didn’t. Who cares! Sometimes quantity wins over quality.

2. Character trust!
Our favorite moment in the opening scene wasn’t Abed’s joke about the Kate Winslet porno, it was Troy’s reaction to Abed’s joke about the Kate Winslet porno: He sort of macho nodded and just pointed out his appreciation of the line. Only established shows can get away with this, trusting that we (the audience, not necessarily the grumpy recapper) enjoy and know the characters enough to laugh at their reactions to jokes instead of trying to ram a “clever” follow-up quip down our ears.

Similarly, there was lot of good subtle stuff for Chevy Chase to play with, which he is (and always has been) excellent at. Especially hilars: his slow-putting away of his BlackBerry after outing Jeff and the Prof on Twitter (where he also brags about teaching a women’s pilates class!) and his outstanding running commentary during Britta’s insane tap dance (“Aren’t the flowers dying from the tea?”).

3. Mix it up!
Troy and Britta are two of the more underutilized members of the Community players and they were both excellent tonight. Troy especially, what with his endless supply of tearaway pants and his casually over-the-top dance moves. Also good: Joel McHale playing a guy who actually likes a woman for a change. (And who wouldn’t fall for someone whose first response after being almost busted by creepy Dean Pelton is to yell, “chalk!” Wife material, Winger!)

Sure, there were other things that tickled us this week: the foregrounding of the Jeff-Britta relationship (but would someone with such an enormous collection of leather jackets really be sent into a toe-tapping teapot fugue state just by the sight of Jeff holding hands?), Abed’s solo dance number, the (relative) lack of Shirley. But commenters, you were right. It really does come down to LOLZ. And nothing made us LOL harder this season than the extended bit about Jeff and Professor Slater kissing in front of the window and expecting the shades to fly up only for ... Well, why ruin a good joke by overexplaining it, right? Watch it below. Grumpiness cured!

More Recaps:
Alan Sepinwall has concerns about revealing Britta’s feelings for Jeff.
At EW, John Young agrees that this was one of the year’s strongest episodes even if it wasn’t “stuffed with laughs.”
In a total meta-twist that the writers of Community would appreciate, Todd VanDerWerff is clearly talking about us in his review of this week’s episode! We’re blushing!

Photo: Courtesy of NBC