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Monday, February 27, 2012

All Things Community

COMMUNITY RETURNS MARCH 15TH!!!! I know, it's super-old (like 5 days) news, but I didn't feel like doing a whole post just for that, especially because the bummer part of the news is that it means Parks & Rec is off the air for six weeks. I don't understand why they won't just GET RID OF 30 ROCK because obviously no one likes it now because it isn't good anymore and also Tracy Morgan is The Worst and maybe if NBC actually supported the shows that EVERYONE LOVES they would have better ratings. And while The Office is clearly spiraling weirdly towards their series finale, things have gotten pretty dull over there (since when is GABE the best part of that show?) and every episode just makes me think of how much better everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) would have worked out if they had just ended the show when Michael Scott left. It's pretty ridiculous that they're still on the air. But anyway, COMMUNITY! RETURNS! MARCH 15th!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Am Such A Nerd

This interview over at the AV Club with Bill Lawrence (creator of Spin City, Scrubs, and Cougar Town) is super excellent and totally worth a read. He talks about the evolution of Cougar Town and his experience working with the networks and about a lot of the stuff I was just discussing in The Community Conundrum about the obsolete nature of Nielson ratings and the ways in which television is changing. Maybe I'm just a huge television nerd, but it was one of the best interviews on the subject that I've read in a while.

Speaking of Cougar Town, I watched the whole series a few months ago and for the most part, really enjoyed it. It's a simple show about friendships and comedy and parenthood and wine, and I highly encourage anyone who has been put off by the name to not only go read that interview for Lawrence's explanation of its genesis, but also check out some episodes (maybe start at the second half of the first season if the cougar thing REALLY puts you off)! The cast is great (although lacking in diversity), the writing is solid, and overall the show is just irreverent and super fun. The first episode of the third season aired last night; go check it out! Or at least send Bill Lawrence a supportive tweet or two.

Monday, February 13, 2012

This Is An Excellent Idea

Have you been following The Best Sitcom Episode Ever Tournament over at SplitSider? I highly recommend doing so. The first round came out pretty much in my favor, with TWO episodes of Community making it through the juggernaut. Is Community ever not the greatest? The one heartbreaking decision I had to make was between Parks & Rec's "The Fight" and Arrested Development's "Pier Pressure"...if they had picked any other AD episode I might have been tempted to give it to "The Fight" because that episode is excellent and is responsible for THIS, but "Pier Pressure" deserves to win the entire tournament, it's a perfect episode from start to finish and is responsible for many of my favorite AD moments. I could quote you half the episode right now. Anyway, I highly recommend going over and voting because there are still plenty of shows that deserve to be eliminated (WKRP, Cheers, Sunny), and even more that need your votes to make it to the next round (Party Down, Friends, Community, The Simpsons)! I predict that the 21st Century bracket will come down to "Modern Warfare" and "Pier Pressure", and who knows what I'll do then, but if I had to pick two to go face to face in the final round, it'd be one of those two episodes (I just can't decide!) and Steve Guttenberg's Birthday, which is an incredible masterpiece of television art.

I love this game! It's so difficult! It's making me crazy! I love it! Go vote!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Community Conundrum

So, I've been watching Season 2 of Community for probably the fifth or sixth time, and it is still impossibly hard for me to understand just why this amazing show is not more successful. Oh, sure, you can point to the Dinner With Andre episode or the Hearts Of Darkness episode as examples of how esoteric the show can be, but for every episode like that, there are ten that are incredibly funny in a remarkably simple way. People constantly talk about how smart Community is, and they're right, but that's not the ONLY thing it is. It's not usually smart in the way that Arrested Development is smart - a sort of tricksy, dirty, pulling-one-over-on-the-censors kind of way (sometimes Community does do these kinds of jokes, and I love them, but that's not the point). Community's comedy is mostly just really funny, straight-up jokes. What differentiates it from other, non-mockumentary sitcoms like its timeslot competitor, The Big Bang Theory, is that Community's jokes are well-written. Awesomely-written, in fact. The writers and producers have a vision and a great deal of investment in their characters and they write incredible jokes for them. On top of that, Community has a stellar cast of comedians with some of the best improvisational skills, with Donald Glover leading the pack. Did you know "Set phasers to 'love me'" was an improv? He's stupendous. What makes people call Community "smart" is that they're simply not doing the same tired jokes that sitcoms have been doing for years. Once you scratch the surface, one Chuck Lorre sitcom is pretty much exactly the same as another - tired jokes about gender roles or fat people where glorified assholes are dicks to and then sleep with women much more attractive than they are. Throw in some thinly-veiled homophobia and you've got 83% of sitcoms on the air. Community's brand of comedy doesn't generally require the viewer to think or be knowledgeable about anything erudite or complicated - it just requires an openness to jokes that don't reinforce all the stupid, previously-constructed concept of what a sitcom is. Sitcoms don't have to all be "Men and women are so different! How will they ever get along in this crazy world? Also, don't get too close with that good friend of yours or people will think you're gay!" Community proves these shows can be silly, whimsical, creative, heartfelt, and, best of all, surprising, while still being continuously laugh-out-loud hilarious.