“Studies in Modern Movement” was one of those episodes that helps illustrate how much Community can do within the old-fashioned sitcom format. The episode centers around Annie moving apartments, and there could hardly be a more predictable set-up for the characters to be in. This is the type of high-stress environment that the show’s format loves, one where stakes aren’t super high but they’re moreso than just sitting around a table. There’s a way in which Community takes each one of its four stories revolving around this and pushes them to the absolute limit.
While the study group (sans Jeff) quickly finishes packing up everything at Annie’s apartment, Britta warns Annie about her soon-to-be roommates and the way they will inevitably get on her nerves. Annie tries to react by loosening up—in a rather strange, literal way—but as soon as she arrives at the new apartment Troy and Abed make it clear that they just want her to be a third part of their weird mind meld. They’ve already gone so far as to get rid of what should be her bedroom and turned it into a make-believe version of Star Trek’s holodeck. It’s the ultimate bad roommate scenario, only here it’s meshed with the strange childishness of Abed and Troy.
Shirley and Britta are also helping out with the move, but they’re bickering as usual on their drive to the apartment and, to make a stupid point, Britta agrees to pick up a hitchhiker who wants to go 40 miles out of their way. He’s not just any hitchhiker, though, he’s crazy even by the transients-on-television standards and not only believes in drinking blood, he also thinks he’s Jesus. Still, that’s just annoying; he doesn’t cross the line until he starts railing against mixed-race couples, in which case they both finally throw him out of the car.
Then there’s Pierce, who wants to help Annie out by making repairs so she can get her full deposit back. However, he’s incredibly incompetent and ends up high (and nearly dead) off of paint fumes and completely wrecks the place.
Meanwhile Jeff has been spending the day shopping when Dean Pelton runs into him and threatens to tell the rest of the group that he wasn’t actually sick. In exchange for his silence, Pelton wants a date day with Jeff at the mall. This hits its apex when they sing in one of those make-your-own-music-video booths Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose.” Of course whoever lies in a sitcom is always caught, but the ridiculousness of the date and in particular the sublimity of their rendition of the song really makes this the best part of the entire episode.
These are pretty by-the-numbers stories, but they’re each raised to a higher level. It’s not just the Magnolia-style song trading, either, it’s that the show is really willing to make Troy and Abed have an adult playroom and that its hitchhiker isn’t just crazy, he’s Batman-villain level insane. You can’t really take these stories into a more ridiculous place without becoming a full-on cartoon. I appreciate the way the show is putting its all into the episode. An instant classic? No, not really. But it’s still giving you a dose of comedy you won’t find elsewhere and the show is no longer coasting. What I particularly appreciated was the way the group accepted Jeff’s admission of guilt at the end of the episode without turning it into a big thing. Finally it feels like the friendship they’ve earned through years together is really showing, and Community is acknowledging its past while moving forward.
•#anniesmove wasn’t in fact a very interesting tag on twitter. Even from Community.
•Here’s a weird bit of failed continuity for the show: would Jeff actually shop at the GAP? Yeah right.
•”Britta, don’t make jokes. You’re bad at it.”
•I’m happy that Troy and Abed’s blanket forting has continued, but likewise they really would’ve done that for their own room first before Annie’s.
•”Call me Craig. And call blackmail A Day at the Mall with Craig.”
•”Hey, Jesus, what’s your position on marijuana?” – I end up surprised that deity who believes in smoking pot and drinking blood hates other races so much. So yeah, some plausibility gaps in this episode, but nothing you can’t suspend your disbelief for.
•I love the word “Cracksmith.”
•”The patriot act says I can do it, Jeffrey.” – This is, sadly, more than likely true.
•”...I liked horsebot 3000.”