This week's episode of Community, "Beginner Pottery," uses the same premise as "Introduction to Film," something the characters acknowledge when Jeff comes to them with a blow-off class suggestion.
Abed and Annie choose to join him, while Pierce shows up in nautical regalia in order to convince the group to take a one-week boating class. Shirley and Britta are on board, as well as Troy, who says, "A black person on a boat? I gotta see this. I'm in."
Nevermind the nearest body of water is more than two hours away, the school has recently acquired a sailboat, The Nose Candy, via police auction, upon which all the coursework will be completed in the parking lot. Despite Pierce's navy blazer, popped collar, ascot, and captain hat, Shirley is put in charge of the crew, rounded out by Starburns, looking fairly stoned.
When the instructor simulates a storm, Pierce is thrown overboard and Shirley decides, in order to save her crew, to leave him behind. Naturally, things run much smoother on the boat in Pierce's absence, and the instructor commends them for their fortitude, particularly in their refusal to snicker after repeated puns on the word "seaman," the true measure of a sailor's worth.
Concurrently, Winger struts into his easy A, flirting with all the girls, eager to "participate." Beginner Pottery is taught by Arrested Development's Tony Hale, a character who has been pushed to extremes by 20 years of students attempting to recreate the sexy pottery scene between Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, an act he refers to as Ghosting, and it is strictly forbidden.
Fans of the show know this has to happen. Also in the class is a slightly tanner Alpha male, Rich, a doctor from New Mexico. He drives Jeff mad with jealousy as all the women in class are swooning over the doctor, including Annie, awestuck with his pottery prowess as she suggestively strokes a long, wet, cylindrical piece of clay.
First, Jeff tries to beat him at his own game, practicing at the pottery wheel after class, only to find he's not any good at it. So he turns his focus to outing Rich as a ringer, an expert claymolding conman who goes from town to town impressing community college students with his pottery skills.
Winger realizes his shortcomings, and turns to Pierce for advice while the retiree is fashioning a canoe on wheels to reunite with his sailing crew and salvage his grade. Pierce can relate, as failures are as much a part of life for him as breakfast. With that, he rows off into the parking lot, and just short of the sailboat, his canoe hits a sprinkler head and starts taking on water.
Shirley chooses to save their friend, and orders her crew to defy the instructor and set sail across the lot to rescue Pierce. If the low angle shot of the sail going up and Starburns driving the cart the boat is pushed by was an homage to an 80s comedy, the reference was lost on me. The shot from within a classroom of the boat driving past was exhilarating, right up there with the pirate ship going out to sea at the end of Goonies.
Also in this episode was a topless Sr. Chang, which was somehow a more shocking view of Ken Jeong's skin than his first scene in The Hangover. This show is a magnet for comedic geniuses, and it's no surprise it was picked up for a second season.
Community has become the defacto heir to Arrested Development as the best network sitcom since Seinfeld. I'm already looking forward to this season's DVD release for catchphrase spotting marathons this summer.
Story by Matt Anaya
Starpulse contributing writer Twitter.com/shmattshmanaya