community2x04

Community 2×03-2×04

Community 2×03: The Psychology of Letting Go

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Here’s why Community works week after week: it grounds its witty dialogue and deliciously absurd situations in characters that it has taken the time to establish and develop even in its short run so far. When Jeff freaks out about his cholesterol and starts turning everything around him into a depressing, mopey deathwatch, it makes sense because Jeff is a self-centered alpha male who would see everything around him through whatever obsession happens to hold him at the moment. When Britta and Annie start fighting, it makes sense, because the situation brought out latent jealousies and annoyances that both have had of the other for a year, and Shirley’s sidelined but pot-shot-taking figure fit her passive-aggressive nature to a T.

This episode wasn’t as laugh-out-loud funny in dialogue as the first two of the year were, but that’s okay – it made up for it in character moments. The comedy here was very true to the characters and made up for in timing and poignancy what it perhaps lacked in immediate jocularity. The writers understand different types of comedy and are willing to use more than their patented zingers and meta-humor to sell an episode.

Community 2×04: Basic Rocket Science

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Anatomy of a joke on Community. The Set-Up: The Dean wants to run a space simulator earlier than rival City College and assigns our study group to clean up the ramshackle Winnebago-turned-sim before the big day. The Referential Level: Study group heads toward the simulator (the first shot of them in the film) in slow-motion, dressed in white jumpsuits, with a low-angle shot followed by a full-front shot that depicts them as heroes in a Michael Bay-esque astronaut film. The Meta Level: Jeff asks “Abed, can we stop walking in slow motion now?” The Character Level: Pierce asks “You guys are walking in slow motion?” Every level of this joke is funny, and stacking them on top of each other, stretching it out as far as possible is brilliant. It gets to the heart of Community – it’s a show that knows a funny situation (spur of the moment show-off space sim in a KFC promo vehicle), knows its pop culture (it gets both those angles and the music SPOT ON), knows its characters (the Dean is a neurotic, ineffective, and pointlessly competitive insecure man; Abed is always making a movie in his head that expands into real life; and Pierce is old and doesn’t realize it), and knows how to exploit and combine all those things. In a twenty-second joke.

After last week’s solid but more character-driven episode, this one is back into full-on hilarity, while still having time to pull out some character moments – the big one here being Annie wanting to transfer schools, but also smaller ones like Jeff’s willingness to out the group as the anus flag creators because he couldn’t stand that the Dean didn’t get the joke. Overall, another knock out of the park for the Community team.

Here’s the astronaut joke:

  • http://www.hilarioushenry.com movieguyjon

    I’m still laughing out loud at Pierce. “You guys are walking in slow-mo?” *dies*

    • http://www.the-frame.com/blog Jandy

      And the best thing is when you rewatch it, Pierce totally isn’t walking in slo-mo. You don’t notice it the first time, because you just assume they’re all slo-mo, but no. Pierce is just shuffling along back there.

  • http://empoprise-bi.blogspot.com/ John E. Bredehoft (Empoprises)

    I still haven’t watched Community yet. Well, technically I’ve watched Community, but I haven’t listened to it.

    I recently flew from Dallas to Paris, and from Paris back to Dallas, and in both instances American Airlines was showing, among other things, various items from NBC. However, I wasn’t wearing the headphones, so I was only seeing video with no audio.

    As the video played out before my eyes, I saw a show (which I had never seen before) which appeared to show Chevy Chase and some much younger people in a school situation. However, from my video-only perspective, it appeared to me that each of the people in the group were taking turns teaching subjects to the other students – some type of an educational collective, as it were. It wasn’t until I read up on the show later that I realized that this was a more traditional college, and that ALL of the people were students.

    Perhaps I’ll watch the show with both audio AND video someday… :)

    • http://www.the-frame.com/blog Jandy

      Hah, I can imagine watching it without audio would be a pretty different perspective. It’s got some of the finest dialogue in TV right now, you should really check it out with audio. :) And yeah, they’re all at community college for one reason or another.