Ken Tucker
March 15, 2012 AT 12:00 PM EDT

The return of Community was both welcome and striking: This truly is a cult-audience show on a broadcast network, one that self-selects its audience with great rigor and imagination. All credit to show creator Dan Harmon and NBC for having Community on the air, and in the pop-culture air.

So, that said, I’m going to proceed to review this week’s episode without regard to the business of keeping Community on the air. At this point, I’m into the show for the, you’ll excuse the expression, art. And this episode, “Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts,” wasn’t Community‘s finest moment, but it certainly had its share of them. For me, a little of Shirley and her curly, girlie voice goes a long way, so I wasn’t that absorbed by her remarriage — or rather, her role in it. It was the people circling around Shirley that sold this plot for me. Malcolm Jamal Warner gets better, more comfortable, and looser in his role every time he puts in an appearance. And having Britta prove to be wizardly at designing wedding celebrations was the evening’s best idea. That, and Britta’s definition of an analogy: “a thought with another thought’s hat on.” Thus, Britta for the win this evening.

I have a feeling fans will disagree with me and believe that Abed and Troy “purging” their “weirdness” for the semi-blessed occasion was the high point, and I would not disagree that this yielded some fine moments, particularly their first entrance into the wedding ceremony, as serene and cool as two suited cucumbers. But Annie as wedding-planner-idea pack rat, Pierce as budding businessman with shoe-polish brown hair and working through his daddy issues, and Jeff being a jerk — these did not strike me as Community at its most dexterous.

Should we think that, given the self-conscious nature of this series, that Community truly was trying to suppress its weird factor in order to lure more viewers? I think not. Harmon and company are smarter than that. Then again, I also think they’re smarter than “#coolcoolcool” as Twitter bait. And turning Pierce and Shirley’s would-be eatery into a Subway franchise? What is this, Chuck?

Oh, I know: They meant the Chuck reference. Still, I liked it better when the business plan was an analogy for selling the public something it really wants, like jokes with extra zing. Hats, if you will. Onward, Community: I’m hoping for a full-on (that is, one quick scene) Big Bang Theory parody before this time period is vacated.

What’d you think of Community‘s return?

Twitter: @kentucker

For more: ‘Community’ recap: Troy and Abed Being Normal

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