May 7, 2014 12:25 PM   Subscribe

From AVClub's TV Club 10, Advanced Introduction To Community (in 10 [representative] episodes)

Interesting mix of series review and series highlights.
posted by ZeusHumms (43 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

Hmmm, nothing beats Abed as Batman.

posted by blue_beetle at 12:48 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]

It's a pretty well-balanced mix of episodes. I loved "Geothermal Escapism", for example, but you don't really need to put that on a list that has Modern Warfare on it. I might have replaced one with "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism", perhaps “Critical Film Studies” , because that episode is sufficiently indulgent of Abed that it dips too far into Community's weak parts. I like Abed's character, but they sometimes let their fondness for writing him overrun the rest of the show.
posted by tavella at 12:50 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]

Two posts, two views of Abed :)
posted by tavella at 12:50 PM on May 7

Me vs. Garrett vs. some other people on "Merv Griffin's Crosswords"

It was my tenuous connection to him that got me watching the show, that and the good reviews the first season paintball episode(s) got.
posted by themanwho at 12:54 PM on May 7 [4 favorites]

I would love a cable dramedy Abed spin-off. I could not get enough Abed, I felt like they didn't do enough with him. But at least he got more than Troy, who they did next to nothing with.
posted by bleep at 12:56 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]

Abed is my favorite character and without him the show would lose a lot. It was a true surprise when the show launched that there was a character on network television defined as Palestinian. A sympathetic, non-terrorist Arab character on television is rarer than a unicorn. It's a little funny that the guy playing him is South Asian and doesn't really look Palestinian/Arabic, but he's a great actor so it doesn't really matter.
posted by cell divide at 1:01 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]

"Foosball" is precisely the episode where they ruined Abed. Up until that point, he was a shaman. He was better. He secretly clog-danced. He beat Troy in countless physical feats without half-trying. He got the whole school behind his Jesus movie. He threw a rockin' kegger.

But suddenly in "Foosball", he's dangling out the window from a rope and we're supposed to feel worried for him along with Troy and Annie? Then he gracelessly crashes through the window below like a complete klutz? That made me cringe right away. The real Abed doesn't need your concern or your help. He's got self-esteem coming out of his butt. Abed is Batman.

The character hasn't been the same since then. Still love him, still love Danny playing him, but that's the very moment they lost the essential Abed.
posted by scrowdid at 1:02 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]

I'm worried about that meteor. :-(
posted by MoxieProxy at 1:08 PM on May 7 [5 favorites]

posted by rebent at 1:09 PM on May 7 [14 favorites]

Also, Captain America: Winter Soldier. I got into a long argument after the movie (thanks, beer!) with a friend over which side Abed was on.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:11 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]

Although Abed is always a reliable meta-commentator on Community—he literally breaks out he popcorn to watch Annie and Shirley fight over being the badass in their buddy-cop version of volunteer campus security guards in "The Science of Illusion"—the character (and Pudi) works best when he's in opposition to the other members of the study group, e.g. vs. Jeff in "Contemporary American Poultry", vs. Shirley in "Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples", vs. Troy in "Pillows and Blankets", or vs. Annie in "Virtual Systems Analysis".

Meanwhile, in the perennial cliffhanger drama that is NBC's annual decision about the show's renewal, regular series writer Chris McKenna tweeted "Rumors of [Community's] death may be exaggerated. But prepare yourself for non-exaggeration." (In the sober light of dawn the next day, he backtracked: "Late night fatalism based on negative whispers. I should never presume anything regarding this show.") With the network's official upfront presentation scheduled for next Monday, reports suggest that the fateful decision could be made in the next day or two.

Whatever the result, though, Dan Harmon now considers Abed's rallying cry of "six seasons and a movie" to be Community's destiny, though the final season might be digitally streamed rather than broadcast and the movie made out of clay and duct tape in his basement: "That’s Abed’s definition of a perfect TV show Valhalla. So I’m locked into that. {...} Sometimes our hands are just tied up in fate."
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:12 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]

posted by Rangeboy at 1:28 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]

I love this show. And as strong as the ensemble is, it's the minor characters that really make it.

Still upset that they killed off John Goodman. I loved that entire storyline.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:33 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]

Abed as always-shaman is precisely the Abed I don't like. I like the acknowledgement that he is just as fucked up as the rest of them, exactly like I like Shirley best when she puts aside her cloak of reasonable motherliness and *throws down*, committing to the insanity like everyone else.

I mean, I'm not as over Abed-as-Batman as I am over Jeff speeches (no, guys, going all meta about them doesn't make them less dull), but I like Community best when it's balanced between the characters in both gifts and flaws. While I do miss Troy, I think they did some interesting stuff with Abed this year when they no longer could fall back on them as the Dynamic Duo.
posted by tavella at 1:36 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]

I give it 4 meowmeowbeenz.

I consider the pilot mandatory viewing.
posted by spinifex23 at 2:12 PM on May 7 [4 favorites]

"I love this show."

I used to, but no longer. I didn't even bother to watch the fourth season and found that despite my hopes for Harmon's return, this previous season destroyed most of my enthusiasm for the show. After the finale, I found myself actually hoping that it would be canceled.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:26 PM on May 7

The fact that most signs point towards the show getting a sixth season at this point has to be taken as some sort of herald of a bizarre new era in television entertainment. No show in the past has survived this long having such low ratings now matter how impassioned the fanbase. No show has survived so much network tampering and sabotaging that the in-universe characters were forced to collectively agree to never speak of the events of "the gas leak year" as it is known. The rallying cry of "Six seasons and a movie", itself based on a barely-heard throwaway line literally shouted by someone off camera, has gone from utter fantasia to entirely plausible scenario.

Or maybe it's just that this is NBC. Who tend to be a bit more willing to stick with a show that has a smaller but loyal audience. As opposed to FOX who would have cancelled Community after 8 episodes.
posted by mediocre at 2:32 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]


... but I am Professor Professorson.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:32 PM on May 7 [6 favorites]

After the finale

I agree that the two parter finale seemed just.. off. The tone was wrong, there was something just.. wrong. It felt like a season 4 episode. All the other episodes in season 5 were great though. Handling the departure of two primary characters with more taste than is ever offered to departing actors on other shows. The fact that Pierce was gone was a minor arc of the first 6 episodes that led into the Troy leaves story in a manner that totally belies how shows usually treat the departure of an actor who publicly talked shit about the show (see Sheen, Charlie) while actually reinforcing Pierce's original place as a mentor/father figure to Troy. Troy's absence in the episodes after forced the growth of Abed in very interesting ways, not the least of which being his new girlfriend. But the fact that a tertiary character acknowledged that Troy's absence has left a vacuum is again, much more acknowledgment than most shows ever give of missing elements.
posted by mediocre at 2:42 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]

For as much as people love this show, a lot seem to have a problem admitting that there was both that one 3/4-assing-it season, and that the first season got off to a bit of a bumpy start.

Me and my friend who i do music stuff with often kill a lot of time in his basement just watching shows like this he's into on hulu or whatever, and that was my introduction to this show. I saw at least 3 good episodes(including the jesus film one) that he made a point of showing me.

So i decided to go home and start from the beginning of season 1. Powered through a couple episodes and just kinda... lost interest.

It sort of reminds me of those guides people make for star trek TNG, with that ten episode list. It seems like something that later as a TruFan you could go back and watch every episode, but that as-is for someone with no real experience with the material it has sort of a higher barrier of entry than a lot of people present it as.

And to be clear, i'm someone who really likes rick and morty, and generally likes stuff along the lines of this show. I also respect that it can be a bit more clever and self aware than a lot of similar stuff that people walk right into like the office, workaholics, etc.
posted by emptythought at 2:45 PM on May 7

I'd kind of like to see a fan poll specifically for Season Five, because I have the weirdest feeling "Best Episode", "Worst Episode" and "Return to Form" would all result in 13-way ties. Every fan discussion I see these days (including, so much, the AVClub comment section there) seems to have settled into a dozen mutually-exclusive views of what the show is really all about. Because obviously the true heart of Community is the quiet relationship moments or the meticulous parodies or the toxic warmth of Greendale or Shirley or what the hell ever floats one's particular boat at this point, and thus the MeowMeowBeenz episode is self-evidently great/terrible because it does/doesn't lean on those particular beats. It's a flotilla of single-dimensional fandoms arguing about an attemptedly multi-dimensional show.
posted by ormondsacker at 3:49 PM on May 7 [2 favorites]

It's a little funny that the guy playing him is South Asian and doesn't really look Palestinian/Arabic, but he's a great actor so it doesn't really matter.

He's also Polish!
posted by shakespeherian at 3:54 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]

"It's a flotilla of single-dimensional fandoms arguing about an attemptedly multi-dimensional show."

That's a good point and I agree that many of the fan complaints are about how the show doesn't conform to their individual expectations of what the show is supposedly really about.

That's not so much my complaint, though. Mine is that this season just didn't cohere, the show doesn't know any more what it's about, and not because it's multi-dimensional. Harmon's return seemed to me to produce pretty much the opposite of what I'd expect the return of a auteur-style showrunner to produce — a consistency of vision. That was lacking this season, badly.

I found that aside from the last two episodes, I didn't really object to any individual episode so much. Unlike many other fans, I'm not pointing to a few episodes as examples of what's gone wrong with the show. For me, it's more that the season as a whole just didn't work very well and it somehow cumulatively distanced me from the characters.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:56 PM on May 7

So i decided to go home and start from the beginning of season 1. Powered through a couple episodes and just kinda... lost interest.

I'm in the same boat. Apparently though it starts getting good at episode 7 of the first season. Maybe skip to there? I'm going to make another attempt to pick it up, that's my plan.
posted by JHarris at 5:02 PM on May 7

I give it 4 meowmeowbeenz.

I remember when my college had its first Humans versus Zombies game. By the end of the first week, students were sleeping overnight in the academic buildings, foregoing food because the path to the dining hall was fair game, and generally having a miserable time voluntarily existing within the confines of what started off as a fun little diversion from class. As trippy this episode was, I think it's one of Community's more realistic stories.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:00 PM on May 7 [4 favorites]

Also, Captain America: Winter Soldier. I got into a long argument after the movie (thanks, beer!) with a friend over which side Abed was on.

It depends, was it the darkest timeline?
posted by zippy at 6:14 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]

I recently powered through 1-3, and season 5 (autoplay FTW). Season 4 ... well, I started episode 1 of that season, Troy and Abed and Annie entered the study room, and I saw that they were going for a traditional multicamera sitcom with a laugh track or audience, and I stopped.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:23 PM on May 7

...but you kept going, though? Not that I like season 4, but the multicam sitcom setup was a deliberate play on people's post-Harmon fears that is soon dropped.

I haven't seen season 5. I liked the gradual expansion and playing with form of the first seasons, but found that they had somewhat written themselves into a corner. I think expanding and changing the structure of a show while simultaneously trying to present a satisfying long form story is a ridiculously difficult thing, and I think 3 seasons was just about the perfect length. I think even my beloved spaced, in many ways Community's spiritual ancestor, wouldn't have survived 5 seasons well.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 8:46 PM on May 7 [3 favorites]

Yeah, that is the thing. Some of the most perfect sitcoms ever were British because they stopped when they were done. I know as a business model this doesn't work for American TV for a lot of reasons, but I almost can't imagine how awful Season 5 of Fawlty Towers might have become. They even resisted coming back for a second six-episode series. Six episodes!
posted by dhartung at 9:19 PM on May 7

Six episodes and no movie!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 9:41 PM on May 7 [1 favorite]

Another one I'd recommend is this season premiere of season 2. They'd left off with a very annoying cliffhanger at the end of season 1, and the season 2 kickoff plays off of that perfectly.

Also that piece is totally right about Brie and Brown being tragically under-used. Yvette Nicole Brown has some serious comedic chops. Her part in the coda of Remedial Chaos Theory (ie the introduction to The Darkest Timeline) might be my favourite bit of the entire show.
posted by dry white toast at 10:12 PM on May 7

I didn't keep going through season 4, though I gather that I should watch anyway.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:56 PM on May 7

zeus, iirc the laugh track was a parody
posted by rebent at 5:42 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]

My relationship to Community is sort of like Abed's relation to Cougar Town. Despite any problems it has had or may develop, even through its weakest episodes, I can't not love the show. I didn't start watching it until it had been on for a couple years, but I started with the Pilot and was sucked in from the very first moments. I've seen the first 3 seasons at least 6x, the 4th season 3x, and the 5th season 2x. I've watched the commentary on the first 3 seasons -- twice. If I could have one wish, it would be to live at and attend Greendale, graduate, then work at the school as a faculty member, and then die there and have my ashes scattered in the wishing well. If that's not possible, I'll just work on the show forever, although I may poop my pants on a regular basis.
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:25 PM on May 8 [1 favorite]

I don't know why the season 4 finale had to do the whole buried millionaire plot when they could have had Luis Guzmán come in and buy the place.
posted by Dr-Baa at 6:51 AM on May 9

Thanks to Community, I say "Cool Cool Cool" under my breath all the time now.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:03 AM on May 9 [1 favorite]

I didn't even bother to watch the fourth season and found that despite my hopes for Harmon's return, this previous season destroyed most of my enthusiasm for the show. After the finale, I found myself actually hoping that it would be canceled.

As Community's renewal comes down to the wire (AGAIN), it's astounding that it's even gotten as far as five seasons after all the circumstances that have conspired against it. While the ever-reticent Peacock procrastinates, let's review the unlikely secret success story of what Harmon once called a "a Show No One Ever Watched"

From the start, the network wanted a different kind of show than the one Harmon & Co. were turning out—to the suits, a Welcome Back, Kotter set in a community college would have been preferable to the uncategorizable meta-comedy series it turned into over the course of the first season. Only Kabletown's flailing inability to green-light new sitcoms ensured its renewal after its second season's declining Neilsen numbers yet increasingly passionate fans. After the network's notes resulted only in even more weirdness for the third, Harmon's unceremonious firing ought to have spelled the end, yet it came back for a (mediocre) fourth. It then lost its arguably biggest-name star and several of its best remaining writers, but thanks to lobbying by Jim Rash and Joel McHale, Harmon was unprecedently re-hired and was able to convince several of his old collaborators to come back for this out-of-nowhere fifth season. And finally, in the midst of retooling a show that had suffered a "gas leak year", one of the cast's most popular members, whose character had become a linchpin for this wonderful group of misfits and failures, announced he would be parting company less than halfway through. That they successfully came up with a creative solution to the absence of one character and the departure of another, not to mention the introduction of a new one (who, incidentally, is leaving to go to his old show's spinoff) is only the latest surprise from a show that's defied expectations and odds.

With Community on the cusp of getting its mythic sixth season, its theme song's plea seems positively prophetic: "Give me some more/Time in a dream/Give me the hope to run out of steam."
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:58 AM on May 9

posted by Doktor Zed at 11:49 AM on May 9

#darkesttimeline is trending
posted by infinitewindow at 11:57 AM on May 9

I live a couple towns over from Greendale. I just saw a giant fucking flash of light in the sky followed by a frightningly massive explosion. Has anyone heard anything about this? Hope everyones okay..
posted by mediocre at 12:14 PM on May 9 [2 favorites]



posted by rebent at 12:26 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]

I made a new thread since I figure talk of the cancellation merits its own space.
posted by dry white toast at 12:31 PM on May 9 [1 favorite]

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