Welcome to Looking Streets Behind, a Community retrospective column! Join me as I dive into a Community episode that has reached its 10th-anniversary milestone! This go-round, we’re delving into “Studies in Modern Movement,” wherein we get not one but two musical bangers: “Kiss from a Rose” and “Jesus Loves Marijuana.” And who knew he loved drinking human blood? Not I!
We also learn that, on Saturdays, Dean Pelton is a “Craigular Joe.” Jeff whips out a stellar karaoke performance, #AnniesMove becomes as iconic as #sixseasonsandamovie and every move-in gift should be “the women’s yogurt that makes Jamie Lee Curtis poop.”
Community is a learning experience, Human Beings!
So, without further ado, let’s dive into “Studies in Modern Movement” before Pierce starts hallucinating due to paint fume inhalation.
Annie (Alison Brie) is finally moving out of her crappy apartment, so the gang sans Jeff is there to help her pack. Britta (Gillian Jacobs) warns her about living with Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi) — rooming with your besties might be fantastic at first, but, eventually, Annie will want to throttle them.
Of course, Abed and Troy are already morphing Annie’s move into an unforgettable experience, complete with live-tweeting, a hashtag and tape shenanigans. Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) and Pierce (Chevy Chase) also pitch in, which leaves Jeff as the lone man out.
Britta calls Jeff (Joel McHale); he’s trying on jeans at an upscale clothing store. He feigns sickness, even simulating the noises of a crowded hospital with the help of one of the employees therein. Britta buys the ruse.
After Abed and Troy use all of the packing tape and break one of the apartment’s outlets, Annie freaks out. Britta urges her to go with the flow — be “loosey-goosey.” Thankfully, Annie’s the epitome of “chill,” so this should be a breeze.
Meanwhile, Jeff runs into Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) while shopping. The dean encourages Jeff to call him “Craig.” It is Saturday, after all! Craig asks why Jeff isn’t helping Annie with her big move and blackmails him into hanging out. If Jeff spends time with Craig, the latter won’t blabber about the hospital fib to the study group.
Britta and Shirley argue about religion, which leads atheist Britta to pick up a hitchhiker (Brendan Hunt) while they’re en route to Troy and Abed’s (and soon to be Annie’s) apartment. Much to Shirley’s delight, the hitchhiker claims to be a Christian.
Annie’s dismayed to discover she’ll be rooming in a blanket fort while the guys take the bedroom. Jeff and Craig have lunch at Señor Kevin’s, and it’s clear that Craig is living his dream.
Pierce stays behind in Annie’s apartment to repair some broken items, and he inadvertently gets high on paint fumes when he spills a can, and a window accidentally closes.
At the mall, Craig coerces Jeff into singing karaoke with him. It’s “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal, and it’s one of my favorite musical sequences in a sitcom ever.
Initially, Jeff reluctantly sings the lyrics, but he’s enjoying himself by the end of the song. Pierce hallucinates himself playing the piano while two Hawaiian dancers sway behind him. Abed and Troy cheer Annie up with a puppet performance.
Shirley and Britta learn the hitchhiker’s name is Jesus, and he proceeds to sing about how Jesus loves marijuana and “drinking human blood.” Then, for his next performance, he starts to sing about “race-mixing,” which prompts Britta to kick him out of her car.
Jeff learns that Craig orchestrated the events leading to their hangout — he created the fake sale at the clothing store to lure Jeff into shopping. This reveal culminates in Jeff wrestling with Craig while “Sailing” plays in the background.
Annie discovers what she thought was a closet is “The Dreamatorium,” and she’s infuriated about it. Annie storms into her old apartment to find the landlord tending to Pierce as the latter recovers from his paint trip. Annie enlists his aid in getting the rest of her items from Troy and Abed’s apartment.
However, when she returns to Abed and Troy’s place, she finds her things in the guys’ bedroom. Shirley and Britta help decorate Annie’s new room, and Troy and Abed are now rooming in the blanket fort. Jeff arrives and comes clean regarding the ruse, and the gang pokes fun at him about the karaoke session with Craig. Naturally, the dean posted about the event.
Troy, Abed, and Annie put on a puppet show for Jeff and Britta for the end-tag scene. Jeff is overcome with emotion when Horsebot 3000 perishes, and let’s face it: we’ll all miss him.
The one-liners and facts!
Troy’s apology to Annie is sweet and quintessentially Troy: “We’re sorry. Sometimes we get stuck in our own little world, and then in that world, we make even littler worlds. And sometimes, there are tunnels between those worlds. Or a subway, and one time a snake– we’re sorry.“
Shirley’s line about Friends is golden: “I’ve seen enough episodes of Friends to know that cohabitation leads to sex, drugs and something Parade magazine calls ‘Schwimmer fatigue.'”
Of course, who can forget Dean Pelton’s line about his off-campus status? “Off-campus, I’m just a Craigular Joe.”
Troy and Abed are reminding Annie that The Dreamatorium stays in the apartment. “Especially the part we added in crayon. You don’t want to take this to court. Trust us; this place can be a courtroom in the blink of an eye.”
There’s Dean Pelton’s one-liner about his limitations: “This is just like that Lake House movie. I can only assume, even I have limits.”
I was today years old when I learned that Brendan Hunt, a.k.a. Coach Beard from Ted Lasso, plays the hitchhiker. It’s nice to see Beard’s origin story from racist, weed-obsessed, Messiah-Complex-having wayfarer to a premier football club coach in London!
Writer Megan Ganz came up with the shadow puppet sequence after witnessing one at a party.
“Studies in Modern Movement” is the first episode featuring The Dreamatorium and, Greendalians, it’s not the last one. It’s an homage to the Holodeck in Star Trek: The Next Generation, especially since the Holodeck boasts a grid-like pattern when it’s not creating images.
According to IMDb, “Kiss from a Rose” is Donald Glover’s go-to karaoke song, which, of course, Craig and Jeff sing in the episode.
Much of the escapades in “Studies in Modern Movement” are altered perceptions or set on a green screen. These visuals lend themselves to The Dreamatorium’s virtual simulation abilities.
The Craigular Joe of it all!
Community‘s “Studies in Modern Movement” is a significant improvement from the previous week, and it leans heavily into what makes the show so fun — its vibrant imagination, masterful musical sequences and endearing characters. Jim Rash steals the show with his blackmailing and pitch-perfect comedic timing. Donald Glover and Danny Pudi prove why it would be amazing to live with Troy and Abed.
I’ll never think about “Kiss from a Rose” without laughing (sorry, Seal), but I might think twice about accepting a guitar-toting hitchhiker.
This episode marks the beginning of Troy and Abed and Annie (in the morning) and the beautiful friendship that blossoms.
Cool. Cool cool cool.
What do you love most about Community’s “Studies in Modern Movement”? Sound off in the comments below! Join me next week as I dive deep into “Documentary Filmmaking: Redux” because it’s fun to meet different people!
Until then, stay streets ahead.