Tag Archives: Community

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:

Community 2×02: Accounting for Attorneys

*spoilers*

Usually I scribble some notes while watching TV so I remember what I wanted to mention from each episode (largely because, as is probably becoming apparent, I do not write things up immediately after watching them). I did not do that in this case because I was laughing too hard throughout the entire episode. Seriously, the teaser of this episode was funnier than the entirety of The Office PLUS 30 Rock last season (and I’ve been a huge supporter of both those shows in the past). The Pop-and-Locktoberfest? The winner gets to annex Poland?! Brilliance. Irreverent brilliance, without engaging in the mean-spiritedness that often plagues Family Guy and its ilk.

Other things I liked – Annie stepping into her own this season. Throwing her in with the expected Abed-Troy team was awesome, and she pulled through. The whole chloroform joke and the way it was set up and called back later? This is how you do comedy writing. It seems so effortless and obvious when you see it done as well as this, but so very few shows manage to get it anywhere near as right as Community. I also like how they’re setting Chang up almost as a big bad this year, but a sniveling, pathetic big bad. :) And finally, I like how there’s actually character growth in this series. The Jeff of early last season wouldn’t have realized the value of his study group friends, and now he knows enough to separate what he needs for work from who he needs for friends – it got a little treacly at the end, but the rest of the show is so snarky/meta in tone that it probably needs those “aw” moments to balance it out a little bit. All I know is I had a big ol’ grin on my face for the whole episode, and the show continues to solidify its spot at the top of my must-watch list.

Also, THAT’S DREW CAREY? Holy crap, he’s looking trim.

Community 2×01: Anthropology 101

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Something weird happened near the end of last year’s TV season. NBC’s old guard of great sitcoms, The Office and 30 Rock, got utterly outclassed by upstart newcomers Community and Parks & Recreation, both of which were consistently smarter, funnier, and more inventive by the end of their seasons than either of their older siblings. Unfortunately, the ratings disagree with me on that, at least when it comes to Parks & Rec, which got pushed back to spring 2011. However, Community came back last week with a season opener that only confirms its spot as the show most worthy of inheriting Arrested Development‘s crown as the critical darling of the sitcom world.

This episode saw the Spanish 101 study group reunite (though not to study Spanish, since Señor Chang got stripped of everything and is now a student just like the rest of the group) and work through the events of last year’s finale – namely, Britta telling Jeff she loved him and him throwing her over, compounded by Jeff kissing Annie (which no one knows about and Jeff is now calling a mistake).

The jokes fly so fast and furious here that I could barely catch them all in time to laugh, and they’re so smart that I wanted to rewind every few minutes just to experience them again. Donald Glover as Spider-Man for half a second. Old White Man Says. Betty White as a rather intense Anthropology teacher. The most awkward kiss ever. Abed’s unrelenting and awesome meta commentary. So many more moments that I’d have to watch it again to see. And I probably will. Because it’s that brilliant. This show knows exactly where the funny is, and it goes for it every time, and trusts you to hang on to your hat and keep up with it.

If they can keep up this level of writing, I can almost guarantee you that Community will be my #1 show by the end of this year. And if it gets shut out at the Emmys again, so help me, I will…be very angry about it.

Fall TV Is Upon Us Once Again

This year I’ve decided to watch less TV. I decide this every year, and somehow end up with roughly 17-20 shows I try to watch anyway. Sure enough when I added up all the ones I want to check out this year, I ended up with seventeen. But I’m pretty serious about cutting back, even if it means leaving behind some things.

Definitely Watching – Returning Shows

These are the shows that I just can’t bring myself to give up.

Fringe

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Possibly my most-anticipated returning show this year. Season Two stepped up to the place something fierce after a rocky first season, and last year’s finale had me salivating to return to the Fringe universe – or should I say universes. Fringe is probably the best sci-fi you’ll see this fall, and is starting to get enough ideas going that it may make it onto the list of my all-time favorite sci-fi shows, if it can keep up S2’s momentum.

Community

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I never would’ve guessed it going into last year, but freshman sitcom Community consistently out-classed its more established siblings on NBC’s Thursday line-up, offering a witty and satirical look at self-absorbed types going back to community college. There’s far more here than meets the eye, and if the writing stays half as strong this year as last, I’m totally in.

Castle

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Usually I start each year with several crime procedurals, because they make me happy. Generally, they fall off my schedule fairly quickly as my time runs short, though. Castle is one that hasn’t, because its combination of mystery/procedural, comedy, and character development hits that sweet spot that most procedurals can only manage for a few episodes at a time before it gets old. Thanks to the actors and snappy writing, so far Castle has stayed fresh, and I look forward to seeing much more Nathan Fillion on my TV.

Chuck

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I very nearly threw Chuck over when it spend way too long waffling on the will-they-won’t-they of Chuck and Sarah’s relationship. Now it seems they’ve firmly moved on from that and tied it up in a very satisfying way without letting it get boring, plus the setup for this season, with Chuck probably going rogue, looks to take the show in a whole new direction. This is one show that manages to reinvent itself almost every season and make it work. But if they do start waffling on Chuck and Sarah again? I’m probably out.

Sanctuary

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Syfy shows have been doing right by me lately, and I’ve just about caught up S2 so I can start right in on S3 when it starts (S1 and S2 are on Netflix Instant Watch). It’s not a great show, but it’s fun, geeky, B-movie-like, Nicolas Tesla and Jack the Ripper are characters, and with Warehouse 13 finishing up its season next week, I’m going to want something in this wheelhouse around.

(Also Parks & Recreation is a definitely watch when it returns in spring. I’m still a little miffed at NBC for delaying it.)

Trying Out – New Shows

The Walking Dead

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AMC does zombies? Based on a graphic novel series? Seems a little outside their wheelhouse, but so far every original AMC show has been 100% awesome, plus I gotta check out what they do with the zombies. The trailers released so far look pretty darn good.

Undercovers

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J.J. Abrams + spies = I will at least give it a try. It may be nothing more than Alias-lite, and it’s not like we haven’t seen the married spy angle in countless other shows and movies, but from the clips I’ve seen, looks like there’s a nice mix of action and humor here, with good chemistry between the leads. We’ll see how it goes, but I can’t skip a J.J. show.

Nikita

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This one has already started, and I have the episodes recorded but haven’t watched them yet. Not an auspicious beginning of keeping up with TV this year. But so far reactions from people who like TV I like are quite positive, and have increased my interest. I love spy shows, and I don’t have any nostalgic connection to the earlier series (no one seems to be mentioning the Luc Besson film, which I have seen, but didn’t love), so I’ll be coming into it fairly unbiased, aside from my general bias against CW shows.

No Ordinary Family

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Looks like a live-action The Incredibles, with a family suddenly getting superpowers and having to figure out what to do with them. This could really go either way, but with Julie Benz and Michael Chiklis as the parents, it definitely seems worth a shot. The really REALLY bland marketing so far is not encouraging me, though.

Boardwalk Empire

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Martin Scorsese producing an HBO show sounds like a winner right out of the gate, and the period Atlantic City setting is attractive to me, too. Of course, I don’t get HBO, so I may not actually be watching this right away, but if I did, I would be.

On Notice – Returning Shows

These are shows I’m going to probably start watching, but whether I keep watching them will depend greatly on how much time I have and how compelling they end up being for me this year.

Caprica

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We thought this was going to be a mid-season return, but turns out Syfy is starting it later this fall after all. Good thing, because hopefully it can get enough legs this way that they’ll renew it. And hopefully it will deserve renewing. It has been a pretty slow burn, but there’s so much percolating in there that I love that I really hope it comes into its own this year.

Stargate: Universe

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I enjoy SGU quite a bit and it filled a space-travel-sci-fi-shaped hole last year pretty well, but I’m not going to be too upset if I can’t make time for it this year. I’m going to try, but no promises, unless the writing turns really compelling. It had a couple of really good episodes last year, but tended to meander and backtrack a bit overmuch.

Survivor: Nicaragua

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I’ve had a soft spot for Survivor the last few years, even though I didn’t watch it for the first several seasons. Last season was really good, with the two all-star teams, but I’m afraid it can’t really come up to that again. Survivior is my go-to “I’m too drained to watch anything else tonight” show, but there’s so much on Instant Watch now that I’m likely not to need it for that.

30 Rock

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Oh, 30 Rock. I love you, but the last year or two have been a little lackluster. Both of the two newcomer shows to NBC’s Thursday night outshone even you, and I can’t promise that I’ll keep you if you don’t step it up.

How I Met Your Mother

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This is a comfort show for me. I love the characters, but the storylines haven’t really been grabbing me for a couple of years. These are the kind of cuts that are hard to make, but especially since this isn’t available on hulu, I’m likely to leave it behind.

Family Guy

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Family Guy is one of the few shows that I don’t care about watching in order, or if I miss an episode. So I’ll probably keep it in my hulu queue just for those times when I have 20 minutes and need some quick laughs, but it isn’t something I’ll feel the need to watch every week.

The Office

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*sigh* This one’s hard, but I haven’t really been enjoying it for a couple of years. It’s time to cut the cord. Unless Amy Ryan comes back, which it seems like may happen from last season’s finale. Those episodes I might watch, even though it seems like a rather desperate attempt to recover the one thing that was good about the show the last couple of seasons.

The Amazing Race

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I get a kick out of the whole traveling-around-the-world aspect of the show, but the last couple of years the format has been getting really stale for me, and the contestants more and more annoying. Not really worth it anymore.

Tentatively Checking Out – New Shows

Checking these out, but I’m not totally convinced they’re going to stay on my schedule.

The Event

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Heh, yeah, so this is the only one that ended up down here. I will probably check out an episode or two of this, but the marketing is sooooo earnest and sooooo “this is the next big show” that I’m pretty dubious. My guess is it’ll turn out exactly like FlashForward did last year. In other words, not good.

Fall TV is Upon Us Again

And my DVR begins its protests against abuse and overwork. I’m trying to cut down this year, really I am, but I think what’s going to happen (again) is I start off watching way too much and then shows will fall off as the season goes on. At least this year I already have a color-coded list of which shows are first on the chopping block. YES, color-coded. What? I’m a nerd.

So what’s on everyone else’s schedules? Let me know! I’m going to try to post more about TV this year – if only because I need to get into the habit of posting more, and TV is an easy topic to do.

Definitely Watching

Dollhouse
Dollhouse
I was shocked and pleased when Fox renewed Dollhouse last year; I can’t wait to see where it goes this year. Hopefully far enough that I’ll soon forget the disappointment of the simultaneous (and probably related) demise of The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

30 Rock
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Doesn’t come back until the middle of October! Wah. But then it’s always late, isn’t it? Ah well, Liz Lemon and her crew are worth waiting for, always.

Mad Men
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This one started several weeks ago, actually. And I’m already four or five episodes behind. Way to start the season, there. In my defence, I was finishing up Season 2 on disc. But I really need to marathon it and catch up, because it’s one of the best shows on TV right now.

Fringe
Fringe
I spent all last year deciding whether to keep watching Fringe, because I didn’t feel any connection with Olivia, and had some issues with the narrative. But then the finale had like six WTF moments, and it turned out to be one of my most-anticipated returning shows. That could be because it’s sci-fi and I’m hungry for any sci-fi right now. Or it could be because alternate realities are the BEST EVER. We’ll see if the season bears out the promise of last year’s finale.

V
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I haven’t seen the original series, I’m not going to. It’s sci-fi. I’m watching it, and I’m excited about it. And upset that it doesn’t start until FRAKKING NOVEMBER.

The Office
The Office
Poo-ball! Yeah, that’s what I took away from the season premiere. And also, Jim and Pam are still adorable. I remember being afraid that after a while their adorableness would wear off and the writers would be forced to break them up to keep interest, but I’m more confident now that they won’t do that.

How I Met Your Mother
How I Met Your Mother
Three words: Neil Patrick Harris. A few more words: I was such a huge fan of Ted-Robin that I fought Barney-Robin like crazy. But I give in. They’re good. There are so few sitcoms I can watch, and HIMYM keeps popping back near the top of my list.

So You Think You Can Dance
So You Think You Can Dance
In the fall! I’m so excited! My wittle baby summer show gets a fall slot. I love everything about this show, except when people get eliminated. That part I don’t like. I could go on and on about how it kicks American Idol’s ass, but I did that years ago. Nothing has changed.

Family Guy
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Usually this is on my “watch when I have time” list, just because the episodes don’t depend on seeing them all or seeing them in order. But Family Guy gets quoted approximately 8,295,372 times every day at work, so I gotta keep up. Plus, it’s hilarious.

Project Runway
Project Runway
I’m not a fashion person, but Project Runway is some damn fine TV. Just seeing what the designers come up with to meet the requirements of the challenge is fascinating (and often the most outlandish challenges get the most remarkable results, go figure). The season is well underway, and thankfully the switch from Bravo to Lifetime doesn’t seem to have hurt it at all.

Survivor: Samoa
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Yep, I got sucked into Survivor. I resisted for years, but I’m there now. Although so far this year, the one guy who thinks he’s all that is annoying me so much. I hope he gets voted off soonish.

FlashForward
FlashForward
I’m calling this one pseudo-sci-fi until I see more, though most people seem to be considering it a sci-fi show. Personally, I think everyone simultaneously blacking out and seeing a vision of their future is an interesting if somewhat gimmicky premise, but doesn’t guarantee actual sci-fi-ness. But it’s one of the few new shows I’m excited about, and it has Joseph Fiennes. So there you go.

Glee
Glee
I’m a little more skeptical of hyped-up music-infested high school-set shows than some of my friends, but it at least looks to be a good guilty pleasure show. Don’t get me wrong, I love music and musicals, but I’m not really a fan of the music they’ve had on the show so far. Too “High School Musical.” Which is, of course, the obvious comparison.

We’ll See

The Simpsons
Ditto what I said about Family Guy. I haven’t kept up as well with The Simpsons, though, in previous seasons, so I feel less bad if I get behind.

The Amazing Race
Usually TAR is at the top of my reality show list, but I’m starting to get a little bored with its formula. But I’m keeping it on my schedule because a) I like seeing all the places they go and b) honestly, some nights, reality tv is all I have the energy to watch, so I need a few options.

Top Chef
I enjoy Top Chef and always watch in the summer when it starts, but I don’t love it enough to keep it up if I get behind on other stuff. OTOH, the early start means it ends early.

Bones
I actually love Bones a lot, but I got behind on it last year and missed half a season. I watched the season opener last week, and I don’t think picking it back up will be an issue, but we’ll see.

Community
Really only watched this last week because it’s in 30 Rock‘s spot and I figured, why not. We’ll see if it has staying power once the schedule gets crazier and it moves timeslots.

The Cleveland Show
I’m going to start out watching this because a) Family Guy spin-off and b) I know the head animator. But the previews I’ve seen have not been promising. We’ll see.

Will Probably Drop

House
I love House, really, but I missed half of last season, and I was starting to get a little bored with House’s schtick anyway. I’m gonna try a couple of eps once they show up on hulu, but in a time crunch, I’ve got to say goodbye to the good doctor.

The Mentalist
Got behind on this one last year, too, but I enjoyed the episodes I saw. I’m going to try to pick it up again, but procedurals are usually the first to drop when I start running out of time.

Numb3rs
Procedural. I’ve been a fan for a long time, but the last year or so hasn’t kept me as interested.

NCIS
I missed a lot of this one last year, too. I think there’s something going on with Ziva that I know NOTHING about, so I’m not sure I can pick it back up without seeing the episodes I missed. Not sure I want to, either…I have one recorded and I’ll check it out, but I’ll probably drop it soon.

NCIS: Los Angeles
I gotta give any show set in LA a chance, but even the billboards look stupid, so no high hopes.

Criminal Minds
I love the cases on Criminal Minds, some of the more fascinating ones in any of the procedurals, but again, procedural. And I really didn’t watch it at all until last season, so I don’t have a lot invested in it.

Ugly Betty
This one kills me. I *love* Ugly Betty, but I missed so much of it last year. I don’t think I want to start it up again without watching the ones I missed, so I may put this down as a “watch on DVD later.”

Not Watching

Grey’s Anatomy
Big fan for years, even against my will at times, but I lost track last year (wow, last year sucked for me and TV, huh?), and I’d already fallen into a love-hate relationship with the show. I’ll probably be a happier person without it.

Desperate Housewives
My love-hate relationship with DH fell way more into hate last year, so I’m not really even half-way considering trying to pick it back up. Sorry, guys, you lost me somewhere around the time you stopped lampooning soaps and became one.

The Big Bang Theory
I’ve never been a Big Bang Theory watcher, but I’ve told people I would try it. I tried it. It’s not that funny, guys. Not against NBCs sitcoms and HIMYM. And the laugh track kills whatever jokes might’ve been funny.

Heroes
There’s not really any question with Heroes. I gave up middle of last season when it did not improve after the debacle of the previous season, and despite the fact that Bryan Fuller is back, I refuse to be pulled back into it again. This is probably the only show I’ve ever watched that I literally dreaded watching off the DVR every week.