Tuned In

The Morning After: To Catch a Thief

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There are a lot of things to love about Community, but as I wrote back when the second season debuted, for me it boils down to the sense that everyone involved simply has such a fantastic time at their jobs. Individual episodes have their ups and downs, but there’s an amazing level of craft to the show that goes beyond simply writing the jokes, delivering the lines, and collecting a paycheck. The scenes are so densely packed with information and detail—the visuals, the backgrounds, the callbacks to previous episodes—that it rewards close attention and repeat viewings the way that shows like Lost and Arrested Development did. I don’t exactly know how else to put it besides: Dan Harmon and company just make the hell out of this show.

A case in point is a blink-and-you-missed it scene that I won’t describe until after the jump in case you haven’t yet watched last night’s “Cooperative Calligraphy.” But if you have watched the episode, then click this link, please. And then read on for a bit more about the scene.

Awesome, right? I will admit that when I watched a screener of the episode, I completely missed the theft of the pen, right in front of my eyes. In my defense, NBC delivered the screener online, so I was watching it in a tiny window on my laptop—but who am I kidding: I doubt I’d have noticed on my big-screen TV either.

There’s a kicker, though, which I learned only after posting the link to that animated gif of the scene on Twitter. Not only did the makers of the episode go to the trouble of depicting the heist under our collective noses, but, as creator Harmon tweeted back, it was the actual monkey—a.k.a., Annie’s Boobs—who snatched the pen on camera. Twoth Harmon:

Can I just say, that is the ACTUAL actor in question, who did two takes of that grab? … and we used the first take. The crew carried that little genius out on their shoulders. Should’ve seen Chevy scowling.

What says it all for me is that, on the face of it, there is no reason you needed to actually have the monkey lift the pen. You can barely see the paw; surely there were ways of just as easily disappearing the pen without having a barely-seen animal actor do it. They did it anyway, because, well, a monkey stealing a pen on camera is awesome.

And that makes all the difference. Perfect crime, Community.