Archive for the ‘Community-Reviews’ Category

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Shirley v. Jeff (Round 2)

I was really disappointed to see that some reviewers didn’t enjoy this episode as much as I did, simply, because it was somewhat messy… which sucks because i’d think something like this is up there with Community’s finest parodies. Grading it simply on the “Parody” scale, it’d get an automatic “A” for the fantastic representation of a future dystopia.

However, when you garner in some of the other parts of the episode, I can perhaps see where it stumbles. For example, the fact that Jeff and Shirley seem to have a conflict that should have been resolved… and the general jumping between plot points. Put simply, I would have loved to see this as a two parter, rather than an episode confined to a mere twenty two minutes.

However, in those twenty two, it accomplished so much. Specifically, it did wonders in progressing the initial chaotic nature of the school slumping into “Future Dystopia”-ness. In fact, most of the laughs came from the downright absurdity of the situation, yet it’s that signature Community absurdity that works on every level.

But for all the fun that I had, I still can’t say as much as I would like about the episode. It was really entertaining, Mitchell Hurwitz did an epic cameo, we saw Jeff act like a frat brother. There wasn’t much to hate about the episode, and thankfully, it was fairly deep towards the end as well. I guess i’m just a huge sucker for a fantastic concept episode, and when Community does it, it’s even better.

Lets see what journey this show takes next!

Grade: A-

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Mixology

It really isn’t often I get to compare an episode of Community to another episode of Community unless they are blatant sequels or even prequels… so when i can say that this episode relates to the Season two Mixology Certification,  I don’t want to come off as if i’m trying to stretch it. This episode IS, structurally, very similar. It is played out like a play, with the main characters divided into two’s, and utilized for their strengths and unknown emotions.

For example, Britta is the focus on what is arguably the episodes A-plot, where she has quite literally hit an existential crisis, in which she questions what she has done with her life. While the two male leads, Duncan and Jeff, start off playing the cliche “Male character handing off a women to another male character” trope. However, this soon disintegrates in a very Mixology kind of way. One character is taking another, more broken, perhaps even crushed, character, home.

In this case, Duncan stars. Not only is he perhaps one of the most stunningly hilarious (re)-additions to the show, but he does pack a surprising emotional punch to a show that is often overlooked as broodingly cold. Right when you think his story is rapped up, another aspect is brought up. Friendship. Something I have forgotten is that the fact that Duncan has known Jeff for a longer period of time, longer than any other of Jeff’s best friends, yet they aren’t particularly kind to each other. Everything they do for each other comes off as a hesitant favor rather than a friendly assist.

I loved how this was yet another way this show could address, if not rekindle, the flame that was brewing when it was in it’s second season, arguably it’s creative peak. Season five definitely seems as though it has sprouted into it’s own, skyrocketing once more to the sorrow lows that were season four, and we are only half way through this unfortunately short season.

Before I delve into my favorite aspect of this episode, I want to touch on Kevin (Chang’s) small C-plot. Man… this show can hit so many different notes at once, it is almost disorientating. Chang, gets systematically driven crazy. The only thing that bugged me (and perhaps will never stop bugging me) is how it is never explained how, or why, he is driven crazy. We know the show is always realistic at root, not matter how wacky and ridiculous the situation is, they will never delve into the paranormal for any reason. It’s understandable that Chang gets a hilarious venture in the C-plot, I only wish it was explained more… however, it can indeed be argued that it is yet another point made within this episodes theme, crisis.

Here it is, the B-plot was my favorite. After the departure of his best friend Troy (Donald Glover), Abed (Danny Pudi) is understandably broken up. It’s almost as if his every action is made just to show the lone gap, not only in his life, but in our eyes as well. He marches down the hallway in a cheesy cyborg-costume and yet you can’t help but think that wide hallway is missing one person. It’s a slightly harrowing experience, and thankfully it did not overstay it’s welcome.

He ends up accidentally (right?) destroying Buzz Hickey’s (Played wonderfully by Jonathan Banks) sketches. Which gets him handcuffed to a filing cabinet, which in turn makes him miss the premier of the new kickpuncher… which if you cannot guess is a slight at Robocop (Even the change in the cyborgs outfit color is mentioned in a clever offhand jab). But where this episode shines is within the interaction between Hickey and Abed, both of whom are creators in crisis.

One is lacking substance, while the other is lacking material, and by the end, they both come to terms with each other. While it’s not as profound as the A-plot with Britta and Duncan, it is not only heartwarming but even more realistic (if I dare say so). These characters aren’t best friends now, they aren’t blood brothers, they simply understand each other more. In this time of crisis for Abed, I think he needs a friend.

Grade: A-

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Community is back to normal! HA! Just kidding… Just kidding… there is no normal!

Game of thrones… that’s a show that was referenced in this episode. In regular sitcoms, that would be the highlight, as it’s always fun to see a show you adore be referenced by another show… However, in Community this ongoing reference merely provided an entertaining subplot. While the rest of the episode was dominated, and I mean DOMINATED, by riotous laughter. In a show that is as funny as this, I rarely use the word “dominated” as it’s expected to be funny… however, this episode absolutely knocked it out of the park.

Not by using pop-culture references, or splendid meta humor, or even fantastic concept episode material that this show does so stunningly. No, this episode was funny due to it’s character collaborations. Anne, whom was paired up with Professor Hickey, was as much of a pleasure to see on screen as she was in the seasons prior to season four, when she was paired up with Pierce. Which is a fantastic back to form for her character, whom was flanderized beyond belief in season four.

So, where does this leave the B-story? Well, it leaves it in the hall of fame for “Most times you can make me laugh in a short amount of time”. It was THAT funny. Mainly revolving around the brilliant pairing of Chang, Dunkan, Shirley, and Jeff. Who instead of sulking back to boring cliche sitcom tropes, kept their ground as fantastic and hilarious characters by quite literally making them have some of the most awkward moments this show has ever done. Needless to say, it was fantastic.

Even a character like Chang, who has been so hit and miss these past few seasons, was on his A-game today, maybe that’s because whenever Chang cries I cry…from laughter. But anyway, this entire episode was mainly focused on Anne and Buzz Hickey, which was definately a very “Community” ride, as I like to put it, with one special addition… tons of celebrity guest stars. Nathan Fillian, amongst the four. They didn’t have an incredible amount of screen time… but honestly, they were just fun to see in the special world Community has built.

Overall, if you are curious whether this episode was successfull, I will answer your question with another question… has an episode of this show truly been unsuccessfull? Gas leak year aside, anyone with proper taste in TV would give you a big, fat, NO!

Grade: A-

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Goodbye… Troy…

This show never quite ceases to amaze me, not a single episode goes by without me thanking the writers, directors, and producers for making something like this air. An oddity, a show so weird that it can’t help but push people away…
Today, my favorite character, Troy Barnes (played masterfully by Donald Glover) departed from the show, his character is to set sail in the wide open ocean. Just like the actor himself, Donald Glover, left the show to set sail on the wide open ocean of opportunity, something this show gave him, and something i can’t help but feel sorrow about… but i get it. I understand why he is leaving, opportunities come and go, and this was the kickstarter to his acting career.
And oh boy was it a kickstarter… after episode twenty of the first season, he was my favorite character beyond a doubt. However, as the show progressed, in a sense, every character is my favorite. Every actor has an immense capability to portray a very human character in a very cartoon-ish show.
Today, the most unchanged character, Abed, changes. Everything in his world changes, because a chunk of his world has just left. And although this day has not come yet, I can’t help but feel for Abed, as i know i’ll be left with the same emptiness once this show goes off the air.
There is something beautiful about the way this episode was handled… and at first I could not place it. But then, on the third or fourth watch through, I came to the realization that this episode embodies the show. Everything about it is strictly Community, episodes like these can’t be pulled off by any other show. “Escapism” is what Community is. It’s wacky, fast paced, incredibly smart and silly at the same time, and best of all, it has heart. Because no matter how wacky the situation is, like Abed falling into imaginary lava and dying, it’s still somehow grounded. The emotion behind it is still resonant and felt.
During the final few scenes, when Troy is saying his goodbyes, the most poignant one was of course Abed’s. Abed is someone whom is almost always written perfectly, the writers know exactly how to give someone like him character. So it felt so natural that someone like Abed would resort to trying to prolong Troy’s stay, denying the fact that he has to leave. So it only felt perfect when it ended up being a “clone” that saved Abed. As he was always placed in a world of his own, a world that we almost never understand, but almost always can relate to.
I think we get his pain, we get Abed’s fear and anguish, and the almost uneccesserally touching line that Troy spoke. The fact that no one understands Abed, yet he understood him just a little. Maybe that’s their connection, the fact that Troy was able to understand and befriend Abed, and after this episode wrapped up, and I realized that we are almost half way done through this season… I felt the pain, I felt the sorrow, but most of all, I felt like i just watched yet another episode of Community that simply blows everything around it out of the water. And i did… the perfect ending, to my favorite character.
Goodbye Troy

 

Grade: A seal-of-approval (A seal of Approval to mark a grade even higher than “A”, a true masterpiece)

 

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Posted: January 21, 2014 in Community-Reviews

Community - Season 5

 

Advanced Criminal Law

Football, Feminism, and You

Introduction to Statistics

 

The ball is rolling

Episodes without a specific direction or strategy are almost always the best episodes of this show, so perhaps the first true directional episode of this show being one of it’s weakest is still understandable. Even at it’s worst, this show is still a solid block of entertainment that doesn’t cease to impress me.

Here, Jeff is still selfishly going after Britta, masking the false care with proper “lawyer” words. But this episode never forgets its routes, comedy. Here we get an absolute comedy. Scenes made just for the punch line, which is more casual sitcom-ness.

I don’t have too much to say about this episode, funny enough. This is because previous episodes wanted to establish this one, this episode wanted to establish the kind of world Greendale is. A world where the judges jury is held near a swimming pool near a swimming naked old man named Leonard… this pretty much defines Community if you think about it!

Episode 6:

In football, Feminism, and You, we get the first glimpse of drama within the show. As well as hilarious setpieces, and the first episode that truly sets up Troy (played masterfully by Donald Glover) as the funniest character within the show. His dialogue with Jeff, on the football field, was a compilation of hilarious physical gags within the background, as well as two actors with fantastic chemistry.

Also, Annie’s unkempt jealousy helped her sprout a “crazy” side that we will be seeing more often as the show progresses. The fact that this show did not venture into the “everything works out in the end” territory really speaks pages about how it’s ahead. A regular, down to earth, sitcom would have both characters get together within the episode, or create some sort of tension there to be resolved within the season.

Not community, that’s just too easy for Community. Instead, they shut Annie out of the T-bone steak, she has to be dealing with that now. And she’s a bigger character for it, rather than if this relationship nonsense sprouted between them, and the rest of the show was them bickering or breaking up.

Episode 7:

Truly, this episode is an “Introduction to Statistics”, a thorough analysis of what the characters mean to Jeff Winger, the disbarred lawyer. And as his cold heart melts in this school shaped toilet, so does the status which these emotionally driven characters take within his heart.

In this episode alone we saw this progress, and we also saw chevy chase be amazing. Not only popping pills like a champ, but also in perhaps the best constume ever invented for the actor.

But I can’t really finish this review without mentioning the highlight. Abed is batman, batman is abed. And troy and abed are hilarious.

 

Grades:

Episode 5: B

Episode 6: A-

Episode 7: A

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Posted: January 19, 2014 in Community-Reviews

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The first three, with the El Tigre!

             Within the second episode of the show, we get some resounding developments. One, the character of Senor Chang, and two, that amazing rapping tag at the end of the episode. Not to delve too deep, this alone warrants praise.

Community decides to continue laying it’s ground work throughout this episode, trying to develop these characters as much as possible, but thankfully, not too quickly. Jeff is still after Britta, and Abed is still hilariously unaware of his surroundings.

But most importantly, it began the development of the character, Pierce. Who gets shown as a lonely old man, trying to grasp onto a family as drastically as possible. He’s trying his hardest to bond with Jeff (Jeffrey) because Jeff is the leader, bonding with the leader breeds respect from the rest of the gang.

Did he succeed? Nope. But further developing the three dimensionality of the character, Jeff understands the unsuccess of Pierce. The familiar bonds of this group grow from that, that even the most perturbing and hard to like character of the show is still welcome, still allowed in this circle of weirdos.

 

Episode 3:

While episode three examines Abed, thankfully. Although I view this episode as slightly less successful than the standout before this, it still did wonders for this growing world.

Abed has issues, not his disability, but parental issues. The character of Britta, with her slightly motherly and protective nature, wanted to care for abed. But as uniquely as this show does things, she of course, fails. But she does this by providing too much care, too much protectiveness on a character that is really not in any trouble at all.

He may have emotional issues, but he is still just as human as the rest of us. In a way, he is just like, if not more capable than the rest of us. However, Britta sees the disability, she sees the issue and springs to help. A move that’s both ignorant and noble, which is her character in a nutshell for quite some time. She learns this lesson, sooner than later, and Abed proves to not only have more depth, but also to be more keen on the situation…

While Jeff and Britta didn’t understand the metaphoric situation Abed put them in, the answers that he seeked, and the way he structured them. It was oddly poignant to see his father understand his son. Seems funny, a father understanding his son… Duh! But in this situation it was something unexpected, and heartwarming.

Community really doesn’t hesitate to bring the big guns when necessary!

Episode 4:

To anyone who has seen this episode, they should notice an ongoing theme. Every character is getting an interesting pair, but not only that, the character is also getting developed. This week we get the riotously funny “Social Psychology”.

It’s not only called that because of Abed’s hilarious departure in the B-story with Anne (another new pairing). But also Jeff’s jealousy of Britta’s new boyfriend, and Shirley’s attempts to fit in. After all, gossiping is still something that bonds people over a common interest.

Episode two has Pierce attempting this, while this episode had Shirley trying. While both end in failure, somewhat, they still work to various degrees. This is either breeding sympathy, or falseness of character.

Best of all, they breed comedy. Although this may be the emptiest episode of the show thus far, it’s definitely the most funny. If only for Professor Dunkin’s absolutely hilarious freakout.

This episode is not remarkable by any means… but it still never neglects to make me giggle at the bonding of Jeff and Shirley, and the very funny B-plot. Congratulations Community, you never cease to impress!

 

Grades:

 

Episode 2: A-

Episode 3: B+

Episode 4: B+

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The saga begins

 

With this, I begin to talk about a show that has changed my life, a show that is so different, unique, original, interesting, hilarious, and developing that it dwarfs any competitor. A show that is underrated, a show that makes the weirdo’s in the world feel normal, and the normal people in the world feel weird. A show that for once makes me feel that someone around earth understands what comedy is, someone who doesn’t stop trying until he is fired. And then when the void of his loss was noticed, rehired once more, only to capture the essence of this show. The essence of what makes “Community”, “Community”… What is that essence, you may be wondering? It’s heart.

The first episode of this series starts it off on a pretty “normal” foot. We get introduced to the characters in an understandable fashion, and get ready to embark on a journey like no other. For what it is, a regularly scripted pilot of a sitcom no one was sure about, it does it’s job splendidly. On my second, third, fourth, or even fifth rewatch, I still laugh at some of the incredibly clever jokes published within the script.

The viewers didn’t hesitate to notice the standout performance of Danny Pudi, who plays the Asperger’s stricken character, Abed, whom associates real life with Tv and film to try and understand it. Troy, the underdeveloped Jock (whom becomes my favorite character of the show). Shirley, the divorced Christian house mom. Pierce, the lovable old racist. Anne, the used-to-be pill addicted teen. Britta, the rebel. And lastly, Jeff, the disbarred lawyer.

This is a simple setup to a complicated show, a budding flower, sprouting from the harsh beginnings with regular sitcom shtick, but still never hesitates to be resoundingly “Community” in it’s delivery.

This pilot is what is needed to start this show, to lay the groundwork, and to produce what I feel is not only the most post-modern show, but also the most resoundingly human show we have in our generation. So I say, to everyone who decides to read this… let’s begin!

Grade: A-