I Can't Force You To Be Part of Community

A couple of years ago a friend of mine gave me a CD to listen to from a new, young, female singer.  She thought I would like it because the singer did a cover of To Make You Feel My Love, one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs.  I liked the CD, and when her follow up CD came out, I got that as well.  I really enjoyed it.  Then shock of all shocks, I saw the singer on the cover my Entertainment Weekly.  Then I heard her on the radio, then all my kids were listening to her.  Adele was everywhere.  I got so sick of Rolling In The Deep that I took both CD's 19 and 21 out of my mp3 player and I have not listened to her since.  I felt I had stumbled on to this singer and she was mine.  To me, here in lies the main difference between music and television.  The more popular music becomes, the more everyone wants to sample it, pass it along and watch it rise.  Once it becomes popular, the cool people turn their backs on it.  On television, we just don't seem to get that word of mouth out there.  I think every time the TV Guide picks the best show we're not watching, we just won't watch on purpose.  We also have this thought that if we didn't watch it from the beginning, it must be too late.  Well for some classic shows that no one watched when they were on like My So Called Life, Firefly, Arrested Development it is too late; however, for the NBC show Community, the time is now.

I know that unlike Adele's CD, a television watcher is less likely to take advice and pick up a show.  We have spent many podcasts telling people to watch The Wire, Battle Star, Twin Peaks and now I want to add Community to that list.  Let me speak directly to those of you who discovered Arrested Development on DVD.  You are the audience for this show. And by the ratings that they pull in, that is probably about how many people are watching it.  I used to watch Arrested Development when it was on the air.  At the time, I was unsure what anyone else could want from television.  I thought, and still do, that every person would love that show.  I don't know that I can make that claim about Community.  I think there are so many jokes that are  "IN" that it probably makes some viewers feel left out.  But it moves so quickly, that they should be jumping back in seconds later.  This show is produced by the Russo Brothers.  They directed many of the great episodes of Arrested Development and they bring that quick sense of timing to this show as well.  All sitcoms are now based on the Cheers model.  That model is pick a running joke for each character and then tell it over and over.  Community follows this dictum as well.  With one major difference, the show is not plot based.  So while every week we find that Jeff Winger is egotistical, Annie is innocent, Abed is detached and Britta is political, we view those traits from an entirely new genre.  They have spoofed Pulp Fiction, Good Fellas, Action Adventure movies, and have fileted Modern Family so badly that I quit watching the show.

From the suggestion of our correspondent Renee, I watched the Community episode Remedial Chaos Theory.  She told me that it was a classic sitcom episode and I should watch it online and just go with it.  I take her suggestions seriously so I tried.  By the end of the episode, I was hooked.  I didn't know the relationships but it didn't matter.  I spent the rest of the afternoon watching all that NBC had up online.  I then watched the rest of the series on DVD and have been a fan since.  In this day and age when everything is available to us there is no reason you can't catch up before NBC brings the show back. If they bring it back at all.

 

My list of episodes that you can check out at iTunes, online, or on DVD

Regional Holiday Music  If you have ever seen an episode of Glee, you will love this episode. It spoofs Glee so well it is amazing.  I liked the first season of Glee but got tired of it, as I should at my age.  The thing about the way Community makes fun of a show is so accurate that you know it comes from love.  That is why the show is funny and good.  If you are mean, you lose the edge in comedy.  The songs are great, the story is great, and the message is perfect.  Comedy Mention to Alison Brie.  Everyone puts themselves out on a comedy limb on this show but her sexy, stupid Santa song is sexy and stupid at the same time.   Someone as beautiful as Alison is usually not this funny.  I think every article written this season about New Girl and Zooey could have been written about Alison Brie. Rent this Episode here.

Remedial Chaos Theory This episode should be nominated for a comedy writing Emmy this year.  The concept of 7 time lines for the same party is as innovative as The Contest from Seinfeld.  There are so many little touches in this episode.  Comedy is in the details and they really spent some time on this episode.  I thought it was a great place to start with the show and it inspired me to watch the entire series.  Comedy Mention to Chevy Chase.  Chevy made me laugh out loud in this episode.  He sneaks in the same Eartha Kitt joke in every time line and I laughed at most of them.  We all know why we love Chevy Chase and it is for physical comedy.  In one of the crazier time lines, he is shot and his fall was classic Chevy. Rent this episode here.

Intermediate Documentary Film-making  I am not sure there has been a show that is meaner to one of its characters than this show is to Peirce.   Here they have him tell everyone he is dying to teach them a lesson.  This allows the writers to put each of their characters under the worst light they can.  Gillian Jacobs is so funny as she struggles with doing the right thing with a $10,000 donation.  And for a Star Trek fan like myself, this episode moves over to classic when LeVar Burton shows up.  Comedy Mention to Donald Glover.  I have laughed most consistently at Donald's delivery in this series.  Yes, they write great jokes and even better stories on this show.  But I bet when they wrote, "Troy does not speak to LeVar Burton, he just sits there," they had no idea how funny that was going to be.  Donald Glover is a comedy genius.  I hope he can find another role after this to take him to a new level of fame because the future of comedy is in him.

 

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons  In a show that does theme episodes almost weekly, this theme of D & D really shines.  It isn't just a gimmick.  It is a comedy study of how a good-looking popular person feels when they make fun of someone who is lesser.  I listened to the commentary on this episode.  The amount of legal work the producers had to go through to get to do this show was amazing.  I have tried not to make this article about how dumb NBC is for not trying to make this show their replacement of the old and tired Office but this episode alone is reason enough for someone to say that these writers are really making classic Seinfeldian stories. (Let me explain, the show is not like Seinfeld but I believe the episodes could be classic in the way Seinfeld episodes became.)  Comedy Mention to Danny Pudi.  There are many episodes where Danny steps center stage.  In this episode he plays the Dungeon Master so well.  popping into character, playing it true to his character and keeping the action going.  I am sure that this year Jim Parsons will win the Emmy for best supporting actor and Danny will be sitting at home.  That is a Big Bang Mistake.  The only person I would accept at beating Danny this year is Donald Glover and neither will be nominated.

Modern Warfare  The Episode the show is famous for.  A Paint Ball fight that goes a little over the top.  The Dean, played by Jim Rash, could probably be the Comedy Mention of every episode.  He comes in, drops a great line and moves on.  The way the writers use the Dean and Chang is a lesson in comedy restraint.  (I know that is a crazy statement for two over the top characters but it is accurate. The writers are restrained in using them; the actors are anything but restrained.)  All I can say about this episode is go watch it.  Comedy Mention Ken Jeong.  Honestly I could have picked anyone from this episode.  But when Ken joins the paint ball fight it is totally hilarious.  There is something so Absurdest about this little Asian man doing an Al Pacino Scarface moment that really made me laugh.  Ken steals the show week in and week out.  And you can take that to the Chang.

Contemporary American Poultry The fact that you can take the love for chicken nuggets and tie it to the best movie ever made is really something.  Goodfellas and chicken chunks, of course.  The directing and editing of this episode is amazing.  They take the style of the movie and add it to their show flawlessly.  And again the bits don't over take the story.  The truth of this story is Abed's inability to connect and Winger's need to be in charge.  Many shows spoof movies but they usually do it at the expense of their characters not the fulfillment of them. Comedy Mention to the entire cast.  This is not a cop-out pick.  This episode lets each actor and character shine.  Most sitcoms focus in on 4 characters at the max.  This show juggles 7 and a sub cast of 5-7 more and they all shine in this episode.  And if you forced me to single out one, it would be Annie's Boobs.

Physical Education   This Episode made me laugh the hardest.  The thing this show can do that really impresses me is come up with a ridiculous idea that works.  This episode is about having to play pool in shorts.  I mean that is dumb.  But I am telling you the pay off for this episode makes me laugh and cringe every time I see it.  The side story of brown Joey and white Abed is great.  I am sure the producers hear over and over how this show needs to be more like Friends.  I am glad that they look at NBC and say that Abed is no brown Joey.  Comedy Mention to Joel McHale.  I do not know how Joel ever filmed any of the takes of playing pool in his underwear without laughing.  He is so funny and takes this plot so seriously.  In most comedies, playing the straight man isn't fun.  In this show they give Joel tons of good stories and he always rises to the occasion.

So, there is my plea.  I am trying to be slick and not beg you.  But do you really want to be at the library 3 years from now when you stumble upon the Community DVDs and ask yourself why were there only 3 seasons?  Oh yeah, cause I never watched it when it was on.   When NBC brings this show back, the viewers and downloads on the website have to rise to guarantee us one more season of a show that should be on television.  So, pretend this is just Adele's newest CD and give it a download and then sing loudly: TROY AND ABED IN THE MORNING.

Read my review of the return of Community in March 2012

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