Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Community – 2.03: The Psychology Of Letting Go

October 14, 2010

“Yeah, you’re both sooooo different….skinny bitches.” – Shirley

Like any good episode, this one featured a lot of good snappy lines, some great visual gags, and some very welcome returning guest stars (John Oliver and Patton Oswalt).  One of the main storylines involved Annie and Britta teaming up to raise money to help out the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, with conflict occurring when they get into an argument on their methods of collecting donations.  Britta takes the perhaps less appealing route of yelling at passersby and trying to guilt them into donating money, while Annie decides to…shall we say, use her feminine charms in order to get people (boys) to donate.  The ensuing argument/fight between them is totally in character for both of them (Britta accuses Annie of whoring out their gender), but I did like the fact that their conflict also had an undercurrent of residual bitterness the two might have had with the unsatisfying conclusion to the Annie-Britta-Jeff triangle.  Though the wrapping up of this storyline in the episode may have been a bit ham-fisted (the lengthy apologies they give each other are a bit too all-encompassing and don’t seem particularly genuine), I did appreciate the fact that they tried to at least incorporate any loose threads there were with the first season cliffhanger.  Not the best execution, but I give them credit for trying.  Plus, y’know, chicks wrestling in oil.  They’ve got that going for them too.

There was also a scene where the two of them go into the whole imitating-but-really-insulting-each-other routine.  I loved that after all the names and insults they hurled at each other, the comment that ended up hitting too close to home for Britta was about “waking up an hour early every morning to slightly curl my hair.”

There was another storyline that involved Pierce and Troy dealing with the death of Pierce’s mother (Troy is disturbed, Pierce is in denial thanks to promises made by his cult) and Jeff coming to terms with his own dwindling mortality.  With these 5 characters taking up the lion’s share of the episode, there really wasn’t a lot of time for Shirley and Abed in this episode.  However, they were pretty brilliantly dealt with.  Though she didn’t get a lot of screentime, Shirley made the most of it by coming in every now and then to subtly (and sometimes not-so-subtly) hint that she wants to be part of Annie and Britta’s plans (“Yay for having fun in pairs!”)  Failing at this, she instead starts to turn the two against each other.  A small touch, but a nice running thread to have for her in an episode that doesn’t have a lot of room for her.  The real stroke of brilliance, however, was allowing Abed to have an entire silent storyline to himself in the background of scenes running through the whole episode.  In the cold open, he’s shown talking to a pregnant woman, and the interactions with her and her boyfriend continue throughout the show, culminating in Abed delivering the baby himself when she goes into labor.  At the end, when Shirley asks what he’s been up to, he nonchalantly responds “nothing much.”  Awesome.  Community is just chock full of little details like this that really reward the viewer for paying attention, and it’s one of many reasons why I love the show so much.


Community – 2.01: Anthropology 101

September 26, 2010

“I can tell life from TV, Jeff.  TV makes sense; it has structure, logic, rules, and likable leading men.  In life, we have this.  We have you.” – Abed

OK, here we go.  If you’ve spent any time at all around me in the last year, you probably already know:  I love Community. It was my favorite sitcom, favorite new show, and favorite show period on TV last season.  It started off simple and funny enough, but over the course of a year, it steadily got better and better and transformed into a comedic beast full of snappy, sarcastic dialogue, amazing pop-culture references, relatable and ridiculous characters, scenes of unbelievable awkwardness, and a good helping of heart and soul.  It would have been so easy for this show to become “Joel McHale And Hot Blonde, plus some other one-dimensional people.”  Instead, almost right away, the show began exploring the many different aspects of each of the characters, as well as the different relationships they discover with each other.  Main jerkwad character Jeff and deeply religious mother-of-two Shirley discover that they both have a natural love of gossip.  Sarcastic cynical Britta and former high-school jock Troy bond when they discover they’re both taking dance classes.  The entire study group gets together to help awkward introverted Abed talk to a girl that might have a crush on him.  The list goes on and on.  Naturally, there are some pairings that are more prominent than others (just take one look at the closing bumpers, usually featuring Troy and Abed), but as everyone begins to open up to each other, you really get the feeling that the study group is really becoming a genuine group of friends that both care for and rag on each other.  Add to that some of the best writing on TV and the weirdest cast of background characters (Sr. Chang, StarBurns, Moby-lookalike Dean Pelton), and you’ve got an absolute winner of a show that makes you laugh your ass off and feel a tinge of warm-fuzzy-gooeyness too.

So after a year of Spanish classes, holiday parties, a debate competition, shooting naked pool (or at least in really short gym shorts), an epic paintball battle (that is essentially one big action movie parody), and a healthy dose of sexual tension between Jeff and Britta, the season ends with Jeff and Annie making out with each other.  Clearly the focus of the season 2 premiere would be the resolution of this particular story thread, but part of me thought that after making such a blatant cliffhanger, it would be funny if they had started season 2 with everyone just accepting Jeff and Annie as a couple and nobody making a big deal about it at all.  But no, address the cliffhanger we shall.  There is a small amount of tension in the group due to unresolved feelings (Jeff attempts to convince Annie that it was a mistake and they should sweep it under the rug) and the lingering humiliation from the embarrassment of Britta publicly confessing her love to Jeff at a school dance (which she quickly explains was only the result of getting hyper-competitive with Jeff’s ex-girlfriend).  The latter soon gets turned on its head as Britta finds herself popular amongst the women on campus (who see her as a symbol of fearlessness) and Jeff develops a reputation for being heartless.  In an attempt to diffuse this new turn of events (and almost certainly partly to turn the tables again on Britta), Jeff decides that his only recourse is to publicly “confess” his “love” for Britta, forcing the two to keep up a charade of being in love with each other.  As their egos collide and their stubbornness and competitive nature kicks in, they attempt to outdo each other in fake displays of affection.

What I love about the show is the attention to detail and the small moments that are almost missable, but still add so much.  For every big moment like Jeff and Britta being forced to awkwardly making out with each other in class in order to keep up the pretense of being in love, there are little things like Abed and Troy sharing a high-five without even looking at each other after someone gets hit with a blow dart, or one of Britta’s fangirls mouthing along as another reenacts the big confession from last season, or the insights into each character during the opening sequence where each character’s bedroom is shown as they wake up for the first day of class (fun fact: Troy wears Spider Man pajamas in reference to a half-jokey Twitter campaign to get the actor, Donald Glover, to play Spider Man in the upcoming movie).  Of course, that’s not to take away from the big moments: the climax of the episode involves turning 9 separate weapons into a single even deadlier weapon wielded by none other than Betty White.  Community’s ability to expertly meld these two extremes is just one of the many reasons why it’s my favorite show on TV.  Along with providing truly side-splitting laughs and genuinely heart-warming moments, the show really rewards you for paying attention.

The bottom line is this: if you’re not watching Community, you’re doing it wrong. This show comes with my highest recommendation, and the second season is already off to a fantastic start.

“Turnin it into the snake!”