Community is a character-driven comedy, so it’s natural for there to be some apprehension surrounding an episode that’s supposed to be pure parody. However, “Basic Rocket Science” was such an enjoyable ride that abandoning the character stories for a week didn’t seem to be such a bad idea. Tonight’s episode was wacky, reference-heavy, and absolutely hilarious.

Obviously, it’s impossible to catch all the references that Community works into a single episode, but “Basic Rocket Science” was clearly a parody of Apollo 13 more than anything. There were probably some shout-outs to Star Wars and Star Trek too. [I was, however, disappointed in the lack of shout-outs to Spaceballs. (Okay, not really. But you’ve got to admit: Spaceballs was awesome.)]  Not catching all the references in no way impacted my enjoyment of the episode. Instead of being specific in its parodies, Community tends to poke fun at what the audience’s impressions of a certain genre of television/movies are, and in that sense, the jokes are general enough that they’d work for anybody.

And man oh man, was this episode full of jokes. From the CCCP gag in the opening to the butt flag to the explosion in the simulation, this episode had me laughing all along. Abed was on fire tonight, and instead of being over-the-top, the script put him in a role that required more restraint, which played well to Danny Pudi’s talents and prevented the episode from descending into insanity. Troy, as usual, was a fountain of humour. His discovery that the monitor was just a sticker was played perfectly by Donald Glover.*

But the real star here was the dean. Jim Rash regularly outshines the rest of the cast with his comedic skills, and that has never been more apparent than in this episode. Whether he was forcing the study group to clean the simulator or trying to cover up what he used the map for, the dean put a huge smile on my face.

All in all, “Basic Rocket Science” was a great episode that delivered consistent laughs for an entire half-hour. I hope that the show keeps up its high level of excellence.

* Every time I type his name, I keep wanting to type “Danny Glover.” I don’t really know why. It’s not as if I’ve ever seen Lethal Weapon.