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March 18, 2015

Community Review

On Yahoo Screen, which is some widget you download for free.

The first two episodes of Community are now posted on Yahoo Screen.

For several years, I have been a fanatical Community Fan. I began by believing it was, literally, the Worst Show I'd Ever Seen In My Life, and I said so at the time. It was too contrived and too precious and too self-conscious and too self-consciously "clever."

And every character was a stock type and the show's manner of dealing with this flaw was to have an Aspergers-suffering, delusional character state explicitly that they were all stock sitcom types. So they "fixed" their flaw by just admitting it.

Anyway, I hated this show and did not watch it, until I more or less accidentally watched an episode in the second season, and was surprised at how much I really liked it, and how outrageously silly it was. (The one that got me was the Kentucky Fried Chicken Space Capsule one.)

And then I stopped watching again. Yeah. Well, my Love is Cold.

When I really started watching was in repeats in syndication, actually. I watched those, then the fifth season. The fifth season was really the first season where I made a point of watching the show consistently, when it was actually on.

Anyway, NBC cancelled the show last year. It had never been a ratings winner. In fact, its ratings were pretty damn bad.

But we now live in an age where any old tech company can decide Hey, I bet we can produce that show, so Yahoo! picked the show up for its sixth season.

I never talked about my love of Community much because it was on NBC, a network I think must be boycotted and destroyed. I felt bad about never saying anything about the show when it was constantly on the edge of being cancelled, but then, I'm sure there were nice Librarians in the Death Star, too. Nice Librarians who were good at their jobs and who never did anything wrong to anyone mostly.

But, they worked at the Death Star, so you have to kill them.

But now the show's on Yahoo, which I'm sure isn't a great company but at least it's not NBC, so I can push the show a little, and praise it.

Is it worth watching? Yes. The first two episodes are now online and they are very good. The show has changed, but it has not changed in quality.

Note by the way that Community seasons tend to start out very good and then get meh -- like the writers have five great ideas they can't wait to get down on paper, and then a bunch of mediocre half-ideas -- and so the quality of the first two shows doesn't guarantee a strong season, but starting off strong is better than starting off weak.

Among the changes? Now Shirley has gone. Shirley was always the weakest character (barely better than Britta), and for whatever reason, she's not back.

They're replacing her with Paget Brewster, who was actually introduced in a season five episode, and Keith David. Or David Keith. I don't know, the black one that was in They Live, not the white one who was in The Great Santini.

These characters replace both Shirley and the other outgoing cast members, Jon Oliver as Professor Duncan and Jonathan Banks as... I forget the character's name, but he was great. Jim Rash is now officially a regular instead of what he used to be, which was a frequent, high-impact guest star.

The new characters have potential. I've liked Paget Brewster for a while, and even though the character they've made her is kind of, get this, Total Sitcom Stock Character, and even though she basically is the same character as Annie (something, get this, Abed points out to her explicitly), she was a useful source of antagonism in the first episode and seems like a good get.

The other character I have even higher hopes for. He'll be taking on, I hope, Jonathan Banks' old job to be the cranky old guy who will not put up with your nonsense, but he also is a self-declared genius and seems annoyed by white people,* so it looks like he'll be a ready source of comic conflict. "I'm nobody's Fourth Ghosbuster," he says in the trailer. Good line.

Here's the thing: All they required of me to watch the show is that I sit through two -- 2 -- thirty second commercials. One minute of advertising in the whole 23 minute show.

Honestly, Yahoo!, you can make me watch a few more commercials than that. I'd like this endeavor to succeed, and I don't begrudge you (or the actual cast and crew) making some money. Two commercials is, well, thank you for so few, but I could accept anywhere up to... well, ten throughout a show would be acceptable (if no longer nice), I guess.

Anyway, check it out. I did feel bad never saying a nice word for this show when it was on the air, so I guess I'm trying to make up for it now, now that they're off the Death Star.

The second episode is the stronger one. The Dean buys a virtual reality Operating System, which then involves Fantasy Landscapes and 90s Virtual Reality Movie Tropes in order to do extremely simple things like copy a file.

That's the bit you see in the trailer below with the Dean mixing up the Holy Bible and the Bible of Hans Gruber, You'll see what I mean.

I got a lot of giggles watching the Dean do very mundane set-up stuff on his computer while in Virtual Reality.

* Shirley was occasionally annoyed by white people too but her major personality Schtick was "Being Nice" (and Christian), even if fake, so she rarely got to be really cranky and angry.

I think the new guy will be annoyed a lot. Being annoyed = Funny.

Oh, I should say that when I say Shirley and Britta were the lamest characters, that's really not a slight on the actresses. The writers admit they have no idea at all how to write Shirley; they have parodies themselves on the show for this weakness, for not having any other insight into Shirley except that she's Nice, she's Fake, she's Christian, and she has Three Kids.

They similarly have no idea how to write Britta, despite having written her multiple completely different ways. She started out as the Sharp, Cynical Chick, the smart girl with the Quizzical Eyebrow in the leather jacket.

They have now made her the Borderline Mentally Challenged Girl.

And yes, get this, they did sort of acknowledge on the show that Britta had once been written the smartest on the show, but now was the dumbest once.

But they still have no real idea what the hell to do with Britta.


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posted by Ace at 06:44 PM

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