If there was any doubt that Community was one of the smartest half-hour comedies to ever air on network television, allow us to enter this into evidence: The show spent three years setting up a joke about Beetlejuice, and that joke was simply an Easter egg hidden amongst other already amazing gags.
Here’s how it played out. Over the last three seasons of the show, the writers have worked the word “Beetlejuice” into three separate scripts. On the third utterance, what happened on the show is exactly what’s supposed to happen when you say the ghost’s name three times (clip above, thanks to the fine folks at reddit).
If this isn’t genius, we don’t know what is.
It’s a good thing the creators got in their joke while they could. Earlier this month, news came that NBC is putting 30 Rock in Community’s Thursday time slot beginning in January, leaving fans to wonder whether the comedy about a group of community college students would wind up being canceled by the network.
It seems even the show’s creator Dan Harmon is feeling the need to fight for his program: On Tuesday night he tweeted, “The Easter egg that took three years to hide. Our show is TOTALLY ACCESSIBLE,” with a link to the YouTube video for the Beetlejuice gag.
What ultimately happens is still up in the air — show star Jim Rash recently told The Wrap that the Community cast is “optimistic” the show will return — but what is certain is that a show that takes three years to set up and perfectly execute a grand-slam pop culture joke should be given more time to breathe.