What's it about: Introducing the insane Spanish tutor and revealing that Jeff might just have a heart...
Ensemble: Britta continues to reject Jeff's advances and point out to everybody else that he doesn't give a damn about them. To that end she puts Annie and Shirley on the path of activism with amusing results. I love how this episode highlights the spiky relationship between the youngest and oldest women in the study group, it is a pairing that gets a lot of focus in the first couple of years but is almost completely abandoned after season three. Cute, but selfish and narcissistic to the point of self delusion - that is how Britta sums Jeff up and it is a pretty accurate description of him. This episode shows how he can so easily manipulate his newfound friends and put himself in a position of power and Britta manages to expose that and make him realise that is how he has lived his entire life. It is his first step on the path to (trying) to become a better person. By the end of this episode he does something that would have been inconceivable at the beginning, he embarrasses himself publicly to make Pierce feel better. Chevy Chase continues to impress because rather than dominate the show as I imagined he would he slips into the ensemble with consummate ease and plays the role rather subtly, revealing Pierce's insecurities and making him far more likable than he could have been as a result. Britta would 'rather keep it real than be likable' according to Annie, a fun statement but with Jacobs in the role you cannot help but like her despite her willingness to turn everything into a sound bite. It's interesting that she cannot handle her friends approach to protesting though, simply being nice to people seems to get the point across that bad things are happening in the world far more effectively than any of her violent protests in the past. Go figure. Pierce points out that Britta's name sounds like a water filter, I'm glad somebody did.
Meta: Abed mentions how each of the Dean's announcements make it feel like the opening scene of a TV show, which is handy because that is the opening scene of this TV show. Get used to this kind of reference to the tropes that make up television, they get wittier and more extreme as the show progresses. 'Hey Abed, real stories they don't have spoilers...you understand that TV and reality are different, right?' Do you know I don't think he does an he's probably in a much more interesting world for it. Abed compliments Jeff on a 'good entrance.'
Introducing: 'And I don't want to have any conversations about what a mysterious, inscrutable man I am...' Senior Chang, one of the most grotesque characters ever to appear on TV and somebody whom the creators of this show will completely re-invent from season to season to the point where he is also the most flexible and hardest to define. Season one Chang is a psychopathic Spanish tutor who knows very little about the subject and gets off on the fear of his students of him. God bless Ken Cheong who never holds back and plays every scene to the hilt. I have rarely seen a performer who is willing to risk so much to commit to such an insane role.
Great Gags: 'Whoever is growing a small patch of cannabis behind the gymnasium, congratulations, you have won a cruise. Report to security to claim your tickets.'
'I want to protest the hell out of something!' - thus revealing that some people enjoy reacting to things, even if they don't understand them at all. And later: 'You sound like Guatemala!'
Funniest Moment: The presentation that Jeff and Pierce perform for the Spanish class that seems to consist of appalling racist stereotypes, flag waving, mime, robots, dramatic performance and warfare with silly string (it takes place in a montage and so we'll never quite understand the sheer breadth of their vision). They are awarded and F and F minus. Britta: 'That is one of the worst things I have ever seen.'
End tag: Troy and Abed sing a Spanish rap. And it's really catchy. I already want to hang with these guys.
Result: Community strikes the feel good jugular again. Giving more time to the regulars that didn't get a shot in the pilot (especially Shirley, Annie and Pierce), this show continues to juggle up an ensemble better than any I have seen in a long time. Spanish 101 is not going to feature on anybody's top ten list (despite the wonderful introductory scene for Chang) but it continues to explore the characters gently whilst still providing a great time. Whether it is Pierce's appallingly un-PC comments, Annie and Shirley's efforts to make the world a better place by simply being nice or Jeff's ability to humiliate himself to the extreme to prove he can be a good friend this is a show that continue to make me smile. What's astonishing is that there isn't a character that I don't like (even a little bit) and that has never happened before. Once you have watched a number of these episodes you want to exist in this world and surround yourself with these people: 8/10