Friday, 15 October 2010

Community 1.3 / 1.6 - 'Introduction to Film' / 'Football, Feminism and You'

“That is our human colour wheel – it goes from Seal to Seal’s teeth.” – Dean Pelton

Over a year after I named it as one of my five reasons to get excited about TV again, Community has finally hit UK TV screens.

Thanks to the fact that it is airing on Viva though (what the fuck!?) and they have done little to no external promotion of the fact they have landed, in what I would say is somewhat of a coup, one of the funniest new sitcoms to debut in a while I managed to miss the first two episodes.

Why Comedy Central haven’t picked this up when they were clearly in the market for some new shows is beyond me – they are currently plugging the hell out of gash looking ‘fat people are funny’ sitcom Mike & Molly but you’re not telling me Community wouldn’t have sat better alongside the likes of 30 Rock and Scrubs than that shit.

Before I go off on a ranting tangent though let me just be clear that I am grateful that Community is finally with us in the UK, yes I might wish it was going to receive more exposure than it will get on Viva but at least it’s here.

For some reason though the two episodes they aired this week are episode 3 and episode 6 of season one – what happened to 4 & 5 is anybody’s guess. Through researching this review though I have discovered that there was a bit of running order juggling by NBC when season one aired in the States so maybe that has something to do with it. Hopefully though episodes 4 & 5 won’t be skipped over completely, we’ll get them next week and then get back into chronological order.

So with the technicalities out of the way let’s get on to the actual content of the show.

Community didn’t exactly blaze a trail in the States last year – its thunder was well and truly stolen by Modern Family by all accounts – but I’d read enough good things about it from critics that I respect like Alan Sepinwall that I knew it would be my kind of show, and judging from these two episodes I wasn’t wrong.

Dan Harmon has created a show that not only allows a brilliantly eclectic mix of characters but also gives the opportunity to have so much fun with guest stars and recurring characters. A community college is the perfect breeding ground for all manner of wonderfully colourful freaks and weirdos.

Couple the great characters with some smart, snappy dialogue and brilliant one-liners (see above) and you have the recipe for success.

Community’s main character and the effective ‘straight man’ is Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) a lawyer who is forced to attend the college after being stripped of his bar. The main cast of characters are then made up from Jeff’s Spanish study group, some of the memorable members being Pierce (Chevy Chase) who gets most of the show’s best lines, uptight ‘geek’ Annie (Mad Men’s Alison Brie [she plays Pete’s wife Trudy on Mad Men]) and former High School quarterback Troy (Donald Glover).

The Hangover’s Ken Jeong also receives star-billing on the show but wasn’t featured at all in either of the episodes that aired this week – The Daily Show’s John Oliver also has a recurring role in the show as a psychology professor, but again he didn’t appear in either of this week’s episodes.

The first of the two episodes that aired revolved around Britta (Gillian Jacobs) – who appears to be Jeff’s love interest – interfering in Abed’s life and helping him enrol in a film class much to his father’s chagrin. Abed’s Father was played by guest-star Iqbal Theba who has gained worldwide fame recently as Glee’s Principal Figgins. Elsewhere an eccentric professor, played by John Michael Higgins who I just don’t find funny at all, tried to make Jeff “seize the day” in order to pass his class and Pierce tried to help Troy develop a more manly sneeze.

The second episode that aired this week ‘Football, Feminism and You’ was the stronger of the two in my opinion. Whether this had something to do with me now knowing who these characters were as opposed to getting to know them in ‘Introduction to Film’ I don’t know, but either way it definitely had more laughs and memorable one-liners – “is that linebacker a pregnant woman!?”

Jeff was blackmailed by Dean Pelton into talking Troy into joining the college football team ‘The Human Beings’ as the Dean had used Jeff’s image on a bunch of promotional material for the college and Jeff wants no one to know he is attending community college.

This irked Annie who has a life-long crush on Troy as he reverts back to his dumb jock persona when he’s involved in football. In the end Jeff did the right thing and tried to talk Troy out of getting back into football but the star quarterback seemed happy to just play the game without the pressure of scouts and scholarships.

The majority of the comedy in this episode was derived from Pierce and Dean Pelton’s attempts to come up with a new mascot for the football team – “…It's a falcon with an erection…” and the highly offensive and racist way in which they actually arrived at ‘The Greendale Human Being’.

Community is definitely one of the best new comedies I’ve seen in a while and judging from some of the comments and reviews I’ve read online these two episodes are two of the weaker ones from the first season, so if the quality only improves as the season progresses then we should be in for some very funny winter months.

Bullet Points:

- I’m really surprised to see Chevy Chase in almost a supporting role in a sitcom. Chase was known as somewhat of an egomaniac back at the height of his fame but maybe his career downfall over the last two decades has made him rethink his attitude towards potential vehicles for his talents.

- It’s really great to see Alison Brie getting to show a bit more of what she’s capable of. There’s nothing wrong with her on Mad Men at all, in fact she’s great as Trudy Campbell, but Mad Men is such a huge ensemble and very much the Draper show that she often gets very little to do when she appears. Hopefully as a regular here she’ll get more chance to show us what a great actress she really is.

- Although the episodes were shown very much out of order it was funny how the joke about Abed taking a back seat this week worked in the second episode – I guess we can assume that he is featured quite heavily in episode five then? Or maybe this whole out of sync running order is just an elaborate scheme to mess with our minds…

- Another great line from Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) in the second of the two episodes: “…When you say ‘jump’ he says ‘how high?’, when you say ‘stop’, he says ‘Hammer Time!’”

Community double bills air Tuesdays @ 10pm & 10.30pm on VIVA.


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