Let's face it: following such a lengthy hiatus - one in which, originally, we didn't even know if the show would return - Community could have returned this week with Jeff, Annie and company doing nothing but shining Jim Rash's Oscar and I'd have been giddy.
But then "Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts" delivered a hilarious half hour, while proving the wacky show can actually act quite normal (while commenting on just how normal, of course, Troy and Abed Not in the Morning style) and showcase characters that are more fully developed than any other sitcom on television.
We had Shirley, who is religious (her church is against "Calico cats"), kind (she helped Pierce at his most vulnerable) and also downright hilarious... for either two full minutes of laughter or one full minute of intense staring.
We had Annie, ever cheerful and optimistic, whether she's making high-pitched squeals in rom-com movie horror; or carrying around the world's largest wedding book.
We had Jeff and Pierce, both dealing with their persistent daddy issues; the former through a possible love of turtle necks, bitterness and a heart that beats scotch; the latter through money, ego and occasional racism. (No need to call the authorities, home security device.)
We had Britta, thinking she's so far above it all (so what if the flowers look nice? Children are starving in Uganda!!!), yet even messing up (yes, Britta-ing) her attempt at being a bad wedding planner, and then hysterically drowning her sorrows in the fact that she comes from a long line of wives and moms (don't we all?) and, realize that making 70% of her husband and having no say in how many babies she squeezes out is sadly her destiny.
And then we had Troy and Abed, who de-whimsified themselves in an attempt to make acceptable wedding guests, essentially acting like Community itself in airing an episode it hopes will attract lots of new viewers simply seeking a "regular" sitcom, yet unable to maintain the charade for the entirety of the installment.
Will the ratings actually tick up? We'll soon find out, but this served as an ideal episode for both fresh sets of eyeballs and those who have loved each of these characters for three-plus seasons now. You don't need to know Britta well in order to laugh at her attempt to explain an analogy (what was that part about a hat again?) - but it helps to understand this goes right along with her high and mighty attitude.
The genius of Community lies in its ability to combine rapid fire jokes with pop culture references while still painting detailed portraits of well-layered characters. All of those traits were on display here.
Oh, and in its hatred of Jim Belushi. Seriously, who finds that guy funny?!?