Tonight's return episode of "Community" won't go down in the show's history as one of the best but it's funny enough as Shirley is torn between starting a business with Pierce (Chevy Chase) and re-marrying her ex-husband, Andre (Malcolm-Jamal Warner).
"Baby girl," Andre says. "I've loved you ever since there was a Soviet Union and only one Damon Wayans!"
That's just one example of the "Community" humor that demands pop culture knowledge. That joke is only funny if you are aware there's a Damon Wayans Jr. who stars in ABC's "Happy Endings." Pop culture knowledge is by no means assured. Earlier this week I met someone who had never heard of "Mad Men." Seriously.
Harmon rejects the notion that part of the reason more viewers have not embraced "Community" is that the jokes are too inside.
"The way that we get away with that stuff is having handed off some very basic archetypes to some incredibly talented versatile actors who are so consistent in their dimensionalizing of these characters," he said. "You can just take them and put them in space suites, you can put them in a musical, you can make them pirates and it still stands. That makes me very proud. Makes me feel like I've been a part of something, a successful rocket launch."
Vote to retain or dismiss "Community" in the Post-Gazette's annual Keep or Cancel? poll through April 22.