As has been mentioned in previous posts, America’s new “Fall Line-Up” kicks off this week. We’ve covered what new shows have piqued our interest but what about the shows that are returning. Square Eyed favourites such as The Office, Parks And Recreation, Dexter and The Walking Dead will all be making their return in the next month or so. All of these shows are perfect candidates for Show of The Mo, but as we like to use this feature to shine a light on shows that perhaps don’t get the respect it deserves, then the honour has to go to the criminally underrated Community.
Around about Christmas time last year, all the shows I was watching went on their usual “mid-season hiatus” and as such I needed something to keep me entertained, while my brother hogs the Playstation. After hearing good things, and that it stared Mad Men’s Alison Brie I decided to give Community a go.
I sat down to watch the pilot episode and after aprox twenty minutes of being pleasantly amused my immediate reaction was “might as well whack on episode 2 then”. Before I knew it I’d watched a series and a half in about a week and had caught up with the American transmission, I had well and truly become hooked on this show.
In the States Community is a part of NBC’s Thursday night comedy slot, along with The Office and Parks And Recreation. Quite the line-up. In the UK it airs on the Viva, home to repeats of Fresh Prince…, Two And A Half Men and anything that gets shown on MTV (they own the channel). You’d have thought that as this was Viva’s only show that not only was exclusive to them, but also wasn’t just repeats, that they would give it a fair amount of hype. Wrong. Just to give you an idea of where Viva view Community in their programming pecking order, here’s a screen shot of Viva’s website:
Contrary to what Viva have inexplicably deemed as the synopsis, the show does not revolve around Chevy Chase. The anchor-point is in fact Joe McHale’s Jeff Winger (the floating head, third from the left), an ex-lawyer who’s been forced to go to Community College (an ex-poly to us Brits) to prevent himself being disbarred after it was discovered his Law degree was “less than legitimate”.
Long-story-short Jeff quickly finds himself associated with a miss-matched group of adults who have all come together under the loose pretence of a spanish study-group, and slowly realise that they’re going to spend the next 4 years in each others company.
Pointing the finger at shows like Scrubs, these characters come from “all walks of life”. You have white feminist-liberal Britta (Gillian Jacobs), white repressed conservative Annie (Alison Brie), black Christian single-mum Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown), arabic nerd Abed (Danny Pudi), black jock Troy (Donald Glover) and finally crazy old white guy Pierce (Chevy Chase). Other series regulars include, bumbling english Psychology professor Ian Duncan (John Oliver), overtly camp and overwhelmed Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) and Ken Joeng as the unhinged Chinese Spanish Teacher Señor Chang.
Abed explaining just exactly Who Is The Boss?
Each character serves a different purpose, the love interest, the educator, the cynic, the child, but it’s Danny Pudi’s Abed (pictured above) that’s the game changer. As a socially-awkward film student, Abed can only understand situations in terms of a TV show or a film (something which for me, runs dangerously close to home). As such Abed feels to need to dissect everything with little inside-jokes that are just meta-to-the-max!
“That’s sort of my gimmick, but we did lean on that pretty hard last week. I can
lay low for an episode.”
It’s these brilliant winks to sit-com conventions that make Community shine and grab your attention. However, what Community EXCELS at are homages. I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you that haven’t seen it (and if my extensive amount of social circles are anything to go by, that’s everyone) but in two series we’ve had homages to Call of Duty, westerns, stop-motion animation, zombie films, and surprisingly Star Wars in a way that was hilarious, unique and totally unexpected (Family Guy should really take note). There’s also an episode dedicated to a partially unforgivable sit-com trope that is absolutely genius and if I were to say any more it would ruin it entirely.
Past guest appearances have included Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Tony Hale (Arrested Development), GREATEST ACTOR OF ALL TIME Enver Gjokaj (Dollhouse) and only fucking Sawyer from Lost (Josh Holloway). If these aren’t good enough for you, series 3 will have stints from Martin Starr (Freaks & Geeks, Party Down), John Goodman and Michael K. Williams who played Omar in a little known show called The Wire. Next question?
In a post-Friends world, I strongly urge you to give Community a look in. What’s interesting is that Channel 4 have decided that The Big Bang Theory should fill that void, a show which is aimed at TV and film buffs but decides to pander to its demographic, making sure that every geeky reference is mind-numbingly obvious. Community caters to the same audience in a way that’s not only more intelligent. It’s less patronising, more subtle and most importantly a lot funnier.
Quite simply for fans of US sit-coms, TV and films (which is everyone right?) I couldn’t recommend this show enough.
Community – Series 3 starts in the US on NBC Thursday 22nd September. Viva have yet to state when they will be airing it.