Last’s night episode of Community, like most other episodes of Community, made a strong case for why the sitcom is 1) nerdier than The Big Bang Theory will ever be, 2) better than The Big Bang Theory will ever be, and 3) probably too good for this world. To try and set this clip up simply, let me merely say that while training to beat a bunch of loud-mouthed German foosball enthusiasts, Jeff (Joel McHale) and Shirley (Yvette Nichole Brown) discovered they shared a dark foosball-related secret together. As one might expect in a sitcom, the two take their emotions to a foosball match. Unlike other sitcoms, Community does this:
Before you say anything, no, the anime sequence isn’t explained before or after this clip. There is absolutely no reference to anime of any sort in this episode. The anime sequence merely comes about because someone on the staff realized that Japan has been making low-impact sports into dynamic, ridiculous anime and manga for years, and that a similar sequence — complete with Jeff and Shirley playing on two crumbling pillars in a lava-flooded wasteland — would be appropriate for the scene.
I don’t know how many viewers will get this joke, or even understand what Community is referencing here. And I admit that can be seen as a problem by some. But not me. Community respects its audience enough to do these sorts of things without overexplaining them, and while not everybody will get every joke, every joke will be gotten by somebody, and that somebody will laugh their asses off. And appreciate that a primetime sitcom on a (mostly) major network will go this far, and trust that the right people will get it.
FYI, this episode also had Abed (Danny Pudi) running around as Batman and Annie (Allison Brie) doing the world’s most adorable Christian Bale Batman impression. WHY AREN’T YOU WATCHING THIS SHOW. Thanks to everyone who sent in the tip.
Robert Bricken is one of the original co-founders of the site formerly known as Topless Robot, and its first editor-in-chief, serving from 2008-12. He brought the site to prominence with “nerd news, humor and self-loathing” as its motto, raising it from total internet obscurity to a readership in the millions, with help from his savage “FAQ” movie reviews and Fan Fiction Fridays. Under his tenure Topless Robot was covered by Gawker, Wired, Defamer, New York magazine, ABC News, and others, and his articles have been praised by Roger Ebert, Avengers actor Clark Gregg, comedian and The Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman, the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax, and others. He is currently the managing editor of io9.com. Despite decades as both an amateur and professional nerd, he continues to be completely unprepared for either the zombie apocalypse or the robot uprising.