Quote of the Day

"We're only here briefly, and while I'm here I want to allow myself joy. So fuck it."
- Amy, Her.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

RE:View: Community: Season 1

After 2 whole years of the US hogging hilarious comedy series, Community, the show's first season has finally been released in the UK. The saddest thing about it, however, is how little attention has been paid to the series, which takes place in fictional community college, Greendale. You see, across the pond here, the 25 episodes were only ever aired on VIVA, a channel located in the 'Music' section of most digital providers. Hence: no one has seen it.

The Show

  Boasting a large array of unique characters, which dynamic from one another drastically (from race to age), Community brings us Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), an ex-lawyer who now has to redo a degree in order to get his lawyering license back. He's brash, narcissistic and pretty much a douche-bag. Some of that changes, however, when he meets his new study group, who he's going to have to learn to love to get through the hell that is Greendale Community College. Thus, Community is born.

Enter Abed, Britta, Troy, Annie, Shirley and of course, the obnoxious Pierce (Chevy Chase). Together with Jeff, they form 7 very different characters and personalities, which cultivate into the ultimate clash of culture. The outcome: pure win. Every single one of them melds so well with each other, whether it be the dumb Jock, Troy, pop-cult messiah, Abed, religious Mom, Shirley, or even the cutesy "We Must Not Sexualise Her" Annie.

And it's through this group that we experience the eccentricities of Community, providing us with a completely unpredictable episode every time, whereby one time the gang could be holding a protest and the next could just be a parody of multiple movies. Quirky, quick and quippy comes the humour, in all manor of form. Donald Glover (who plays Troy) proves to be a great physical comedian, improvising lines and doing the goofiest of expressions, while the idiosyncratic Abed gives the show this meta-flair, full of self-referential jokes and pop-cult intricacies that stands it aside from other, more self contained shows, planting Community firmly in the post-modern world with these tongue-in-cheek sensibilities.

While we do occasionally fall into soap-like love tangles, they usually resolve themselves, aided by the fact that the script literally acknowledges its own misguidances in the aforementioned meta-humour way. Character development works much the same way, with a general unease about Jeff's likeability vs douchability, and the saga that is his love interest, Britta, and how her character goes through so many motions. But of course, this was just the first season, so the finding of feet is expected, even if it is a bit bumpy.

What's not bumpy though, is the supporting cast outside of the main group. The Hangover's Ken Jeong plays the zany (as you would expect) Spanish teacher for the study group, Senior Chang, and brings his trademark hilarity (through ad lib and physicality) in spades. And then there's the flamboyant Dean Pelton, ravishingly portrayed by Jim Rash, who has this obscene amount of campness which gives the show yet another layer of laugh-out-loud-ness. Heck, Jack Black even drops by for one episode, and makes one of the funniest TV scenes I've ever witnessed.

Racial sensitivity is forgotten and thrown away in favour of this metro-humouristic way of comedy - aka; no one cares about it. Which really stands to another point of Community's genius, by letting go of society's discrepancies and serving itself as a point of moral code. It's not like this to a point of offence, because the voices are of the light-hearted characters (mostly old-man Pierce), not the writers themselves, so the lee-way is given and allows the viewer to just enjoy the diverse cast and comedy on offer.

There are plenty of giggle-till-it-hurts moments, WTF moments (the greatest of which are usually the Troy and Abed shorts at the end of each episode), "Awhhh" moments, "Aha, I get the reference" moments and I guarantee that 90% of the time, you'll have a huge grin on your face while watching. It may take a few episodes to properly get in to it, but once you do, you'll love these characters and won't want to stop watching.

4.5/5 Stars

The Extras

As if the price of the box set wan't worth it for the episodes alone, there's also tons of add ons to compliment the ultimate Community experience. Not least of these is the fact that there is a commentary for each and every episode, providing those with the initiative to listen a charming little insight. While not particularly anything of substantial depth, they're fun enough to at least sit through a couple, with the majority featuring series creator Dan Harmon and at least a couple members of the lead cast.

  Then there is the gut-achingly funny out-takes on each disk (of 4) for their respective episodes, which often show the improv that goes on, especially with Donald, Joel, Chevy and Ken. Jammed in between all this is also some mini-episodes (3 ninety second shorts), a highlight reel (best bits), a rather dry "Cast Evaluations" segment, and the strangely humourous "Creative Compromises" featurette. All in all, it just adds longevity to an already great package.
4/5 Stars

So with all this awesome from Community, it really is a wonder why no major UK network has picked it up. The way I see it, it sits in the same slot as Scrubs did (quirky humour), and so surely E4 should have given it a look. Anyway, despite Television's neglect of it, you can still thoroughly enjoy this gem of a box set, and just hope that it gets the much deserved main stream British TV service soon.

Show: 4.5 Stars
Extras: 4 Stars

Stand-Out Episodes: "Spanish 101", "Introduction to Statistics", "Comparative Religion", "Investigative Journalism", "Contempary American Poultry" (literally a love letter to Goodfellas and The Godfather) and "Modern Warfare" (one of the best twenty-one minutes of television - EVER).

And this:


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