Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Community Minded

As you already know if you follow my Twitter feed, one of my fave shows right now is Community, NBC's skewed take on the community college experience (which, it's worth pointing out, is nothing like the actual community college experience.) While it's yet to find the mainstream acceptance of an Office or even, God help us, a Two and a Half Men, the show, created and exec produced by Dan Harmon, has nonetheless managed to skate to its third season thanks to a small-but-loyal group of fans who've embraced the quirky comedy's ability to push, pull, and stretch the sitcom format in new, unexpected ways.

This has been accomplished with the help of both topflight writing from Harmon and a tailor-made ensemble that includes star Joel McHale, the hilarious Donald Glover, and the always-dependable Chevy Chase, experiencing a late-career resurgance. Last week's installment, entitled "Remedial Chaos Theory" for the way it saw an unassuming pizza delivery morph into a harrowing journey across alternate timelines, is perhaps one of the best-ever exemplars of the show's cast and concept working at their absolute peak. Meditating on the episode last Friday, /Film's Adam Quigley arrived at much the same conclusion, and went even further in his analysis:
Arrested Development may have thrown down the gauntlet for most intricately layered TV sitcom, but Community has picked that gauntlet up and is running wild with it. I already feel comfortable proclaiming this week’s episode, “Remedial Chaos Theory”, to be the absolute best episode of Community thus far. Yes, better than the Goodfellas tribute “Contemporary American Poultry”. Yes, better than the zombie halloween episode “Epidemiology”. Yes, better even than the everyone’s favorite action parody, “Modern Warfare”.  
High praise, no doubt. But what else is one to do when confronted with one of the best half hours of television in the history of the medium?  
Part of me wants to declare this the “thesis episode” of the series, and the only reason I hesitate to do so is because the show has yet to reach a point where I know what its limits are. Sometimes that can be a bad quality for a TV series to possess (see: Heroes), but Community has been slyly testing its boundaries for three seasons now, and every time it does it seems to come out of the experiment stronger and more fully realized.
There's much more from Quigley at the link, all worth reading, but long story short: if you haven't made Community a regular part of your DVR queue, you're already way behind the eightball.

Here endeth the lesson.


Brian H said...

Totally agree. For anyone curious who isn't watching already, I'd recommend starting with season 2 on DVD (which will be a fast and rewarding burn) and join us on Thursday nights and see what TV comedy is capable of.

Zaki said...

But if you skip season one, you miss out on "Modern Warfare"!