Monday 9 September 2013

Verdict: Community Season 2

NBC's cult sitcom Community's second season continues to prove why it is one of the funniest, and all round best, TV shows you can get your hands on. People, it's time to get streets ahead...

After stumbling across Community in March of this year, I've decided one thing; that the show has the inherent ability to continually surprise and delight me with each passing episode.

The group pose in 'Basic Rocket Science'
The quirky and off-beat cast, the wickedly sharp and clever scripts and the sheer enthusiasm for creating quality comedy that comes across in every episode makes Community (aired on NBC in America and written by Dan Harmon) one of the best shows around.

The second season of Community takes all of the ideas the first season laid down and runs with it like crazy. One of the things the first season did so well were those 'genre parody' episodes that paid homage to recognisable and laughable genre conventions.  If you thought episodes like 'Modern Warfare' (that saw the show take on the war movie genre) and '21st Century American Poultry' (the gangster movie) were clever, wait until you watch episodes like 'Advanced Dungeons and Dragons' and 'Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design'.

The study group also tackle the zombie genre with hilarious results; if you've always wanted to witness a banana, Miss Piggy, David Beckham and a sexy Dracula being chased around a darkened library to the tune of all 'Gimme Gimme' by ABBA, then you'll be in a for treat with the Halloween special in season 2 - it really is a laugh a minute.

I really love these crazy episodes because Harmon and co. fantastically manage to pay tribute to and rip into the recognisable genre troupes that each episode centres on whilst simultaneously not losing track of what this show is all about - the internal dynamics between the central seven characters.

Which, in my mind, is the shows greatest strength. Each character is fully-realised and given time to shine - the strength of the ensemble allows for each and every member of the study group to come into their own and really play on their own individual quirks.

Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi) begin to shine in this season with blanket forts and morning television amongst their shenanigans whilst Dean Pelton is brought more and more to the fore and the season goes on. Meanwhile, characters like Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) get an satisfying arc that include getting back together with her husband Andre and a pregnancy.

Episode 11, 'Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas' is
wildly inventive and contains nothing but stop-motion animation
Pierce (Chevy Chase) gets an interesting arc that sees him cast as the primary antagonist whilst Jeff (Joel McHale), Britta (Gillian Jacobs) and Annie (Alison Brie) develop something of a love triangle after the cliffhanger from the first season.

Whilst some episodes are simply crazy fun ('Basic Rocket Science', 'A Fistfull of Paintballs'), there is a surprising number of episodes that touch on the characters' more sensitive side. 'Critical Film Studies' is a great episode that explores Abed's obsession with pop culture whilst 'The Psychology of Letting Go' is a touching take on loss and accepting each others' beliefs. Another highlight is Troy's coming-of-age celebration in 'Mixology Certification'.

One of the things that I love about this show is its ability to have elements of both emotion and zaniness in the one twenty-two minute episode - episode 7, 'Aerodynamics of Gender' has two great arcs that sees Jeff and Troy uncover a secluded trampoline that grants zen-like spirituality whilst Abed and the girls find out what it is like to be the 'mean girls' on campus.

My personal favourite from this second season is episode 8, 'Cooperative Calligraphy'. The set-up is simple but the execution is perfect; Annie's pen has gone missing, and no-one can leave the study room until it is found. The way in which the episode plays out is genius as the tension builds and the study group become increasingly erratic. There are some really great one-liners ("Nice try, Stephen Fry", "I'll make your ass sense") and Abed is in full meta-mode with continual remarks about how the group are doing a 'bottle episode'.

On the whole, Community season 2 is fantastic. Bigger, better and funnier that the first, the show hits the ground running and packs in plenty of what made the first season such a winner with fans. You can't fail to be entertained across the 24 episodes so make sure you get onto it now!

Be sure to check back soon for a run-down of my Top 5 episodes of Community as well as regular features, film reviews and opinion pieces.

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