16 June 2011

The Watcher: 06/10/11 - 06/16/11

Community - Season 2

I was a little late to the game, but I’m all caught up now. Great things were said about COMMUNITY, I ignored them. Hilarious show with loads of geek-friendly culture references and influences, I heard. Once in awhile, when I remembered, I tossed NBC on when the show aired, but wasn’t ever particularly in love with it. Last week I rented season one, and finished in three days. Rather immediately, I was on the hunt for season two. I’m all caught up, and completely at the mercy of COMMUNITY. The rumors and murmurs are true: this series is brilliant. No other word for it: brilliant.

The perfect blend of clever writing, dimensional characters, great actors, hilarious gags and jokes, and meta and geek culture references.

Those unfamiliar with the setup of COMMUNITY, here’s the jiffy: Jeff was a big-time lawyer, but shit happened and he ended up enrolling at Greendale Community College and formed a study group for Spanish (primarily to sleep with a girl; which sort of backfired – sorta). There, he became friends with six rather eccentric people: Abed, the cinema geek; Britta, the mightier-art-thou blond; Troy, the ex-football player just looking for some direction; Annie, the young high school graduate who wants everyone to love her; Pierce, the millionaire who has no edit button and doesn’t socialize well with others; and Shirley, the Christian woman who chooses to forgive rather than judge. Together, Jeff, Britta, Pierce, Abed, Troy, Shirley, and Annie make an indestructible team of awesomeness, dorkiness, and sometimes-studyingness.

Season two settles the whole will-they?/won’t-they? tension between Jeff and Britta brewing since episode one, leaving the rest of the season for character growth and hilarious one-bit episodes. I’m thinking, primarily, of Abed making a quasi-religious super-meta film and Abed’s claymation Christmas (with actual claymation, mind you) special, both outstanding examples of great television.

All the characters are given hilarious, brilliant things to do. Even Chang, the obnoxious ex-Spanish teacher now turned student. He and Shirley have a season-long arc that isn’t quite as annoying as I anticipated, and although I still have no desire to see Chang integrated into the group, his presence this year was surprisingly bearable. Edging on the opposite end of the spectrum, Pierce Hawthorne is becoming a darker, less likable character. Being regulated as the butt of jokes and excluded from study group activities can definitely do a number on a person, and I do appreciate the arc they’ve taken Pierce down, but mix Chevy Chase’s general lack of funny and his messed up character traits, and Piece becomes a difficult character to suffer.

The Greendale Community College Dean, however, never fails to elicit a laugh and is the cameo star of the show. In season one, his presence ranged from hilarious to annoying, but this year the writers and directors seemed to know just the right amount of time he should be onscreen and how, making his bits some of the funniest areas of an already super-funny season.

COMMUNITY suffers no sophomore slump. For another 24 episodes, the writers are buzzing with ideas that are original, self-referential, geeky, dramatic, clever, and so much more. There really isn’t a show like it on TV, not even THE BIG BANG THEORY where comparisons could easily be made. The characters are rich, and the jokes don't stop coming.

Watching so many TV shows, there comes a point where I end up appreciating the small things more than I expected. With COMMUNITY, what I really appreciate is that the show doesn't play dumb with the viewers - and it's part of its meta charm, the acknowledging television conventions and either full on embracing them or mocking them. Another absolutely stellar thing is continuity. Elements from earlier in the season (or the year before) are incorporated into the narrative, not simply forgotten or wiped away after a episodes end credits. It's that sense of continuity and attention to storytelling (including inserting hints/foreshadowing of beats that will show up later) that make COMMUNITY even more awesome. Not a huge deal in the larger scale of things - whether or not one likes the series, for example - but it's admirable, and adds more to my love for the NBC comedy.

Now with two seasons of COMMUNITY under my belt and successfully fallen in love with each and every one of these characters, I'm over the moon NBC gave it a third season renewal. I'm not entirely privy to the shows ratings during year two, but I hope they continue to grow and COMMUNITY has strong staying power. It's a brilliant, clever, and hilarious show, and if anyone hasn't had the opportunity to watch a episode yet, do so. Immediately. Pronto. Seriously, add season 1 to your Netflix Que or library account, because COMMUNITY should not be missed. No, I don't think it's a series for everyone, but for those who 'get' the comedy, who love it and adore these unique, complicated and rather bizarre characters, you'll see the series you have secretly always been wanting.

Rating: 9/10 = About as perfect of a television comedy one could want, NBC better keep this show going...

Next week's The Watcher will begin reviews of new episodes. I've completely forgotten about MTV's TEEN WOLF, which I'm interested in checking out, an

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