Sep 8, 2011

[TV] Community: Season 2

Community: Season 2It's interesting to watch a show come into its own, even if it figures out that the direction that it needs to take may not necessarily be close to its original concept. Community is a pretty good example of this sort of a transition, at least in my opinion. For anyone who has come to love the show, you probably don't like it solely for how the first few episodes went.

In the early days of Community, the story was centered around Jeff Winger and his quest to finally get through college in order to reclaim his status as a lawyer. All the other characters, mainly the members of his Spanish study group, were pretty much just supporting roles. They either provided assistance to him in order to get him to pass this subject or that requirement while others provided modest romantic interests or strange friendships.

But as the first season progressed, it grew less and less about Jeff and more and more about the study group as a whole. Not only that, but the writers seemed to embrace the positive reactions they got from geekier segments of the community, thus upping the shows number of pop culture references and montages in a manner that celebrated geek culture. While shows like The Big Bang Theory are deliberately intellectual and geeky in presentation, Community ended up feeling more like the sleeper geek show - the one that makes you realize you share geek traits no matter how "cool" you think you are.

And this second season was all about diving headlong into geek culture and never turning back.

Community is an NBC comedy series created by Dan Harmon. The series has been nominated for many different awards for both acting and for individual episodes and has won quite a number of them to boot.

Joel McHale on April 18, 2010Image via WikipediaThis second season really kicked things off with a bang with everyone's favorite guest star - Betty White! She played June Bauer, who teaches Anthropology 101 in the first episode. Britta (Gillian Jacobs) is still dealing with lingering embarrassment from having professed her love for Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) only to have him walk out on her. There's also the issue of Jeff having kissed Annie (Alison Brie) last season and the fact that Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) knows about Jeff and Britta having sex in the library last season as well. Troy (Donald Glover) has been living with Pierce (Chevy Chase), and is still best friends with Abed (Danny Pudi).

Oh, and Mr. Chang (Ken Jeong) is now a student at Greendale Community College as well. Go figure.

This season really pushed the envelope in terms of exploring different concepts, pushing character limits and being as geek as possible. I mean come on, in this season our little study group managed get trapped in a spaceship simulator (that's also a trailer), turn Abed into a Terminator-style "Mean Girl", and get ensnared in the mystery of whether or not there is truly a subject called Conspiracy Theories in US History.

Even classic geek tropes were explored and played around in pretty hilarious ways. There was the stop-motion animation Christmas episode, the school becomes overrun by zombies for Halloween, and of course the whole thing gets capped off with an epic two-part paintball episode. And you thought Modern Warfare was a cool episode? This one had Sawyer (Josh Holloway) from Lost in it - BEAT THAT!

I guess the best example of an episode really celebrating geek culture without reducing it to a ridiculous parody was Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. I mean come on, it was an episode totally dedicated to tabletop gaming culture. And better yet, they didn't even try to resort to elaborate ways of presenting the material such as having the cast appear as animated characters or something. Instead, all you had was a group of people around a table describing their actions, weaving a story together and letting everyone's imaginations (especially the audience's) fill in the rest of the blanks. And thus this remains to be one of the BEST episodes of the series to date, and I say that not just as a geek.

Community is definitely one of the funniest shows on TV now and also one of the geekiest. I might even go as far as saying it's geekier than The Big Bang Theory since it doesn't get too muddled up with all the romantic entanglements that seem to dominate TBBT these days. And please, Community had LeVar Burton in it - how can you top Reading Rainbow?

And thus there's no question in my mind for me to give this second season a full 5 pen-stealing monkeys living in the vent system out of a possible 5.

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