I still remember the first time I watched the show “Community.” I was in the kitchen of my old house (the only place that had internet access), eating breakfast and watching all the Thursday night NBC shows on Hulu (30 Rock and The Office). My roommate and I decided to watch this new show that had premiered that week. I don’t know why we watched it. It may have been that they used a Matt and Kim song we like in the promo’s. Regardless, we tuned in and watched the pilot of “Community.”
Now, I’ve seen enough pilots to realize that they are often rough and clunky. Many a great show have started off with a so-so pilot. They are often filmed months before the real show begins filming and casting changes often occur in the gap. Despite this, “Community” from the beginning was a funny, interesting show. However, the moment that really made me want to watch the show happened right at the end of the pilot…
I sat there cracking up at this smart, witty speech. Oh snap Ben Affleck (although I do think he did a wonderful job with “Argo”)! And I knew I liked this show and wanted to see more.
In a TV climate that was always trying to emulate the most popular shows, “Community” was content to let its freak flag fly. The premise was unusual – a community college Spanish study group. Yet, it was able to bring together such diverse characters and over the past few years has really taken time to explore how they tick. I have loved seeing their weakness and flaws being exposed and how the community has responded. Their moments of growth have felt surprisingly authentic and not cheesy and formulaic. And perhaps in some of the wisest moves on behalf of the show’s writers, problems are not wrapped up by the end of the episode.
Seriousness aside, this show is also just freaking hilarious. The Halloween episode from season 1 is excellent, but truly, the moment when “Community” seemed to shine brightest was the paint ball episode, closing season 1.
The writers created a loving homage to some of the most memorable action films in the last decade or so. This is when you really saw the show start to experiment with paying tribute to various film genres (documentary, Christmas animated, etc.). And if this wasn’t reason enough to watch the show, the cast also boasts an Oscar winner. Jim Rash, Renaissance Man extraordinaire, won an academy award for writing the spectacular film “The Descendants”. When he’s not busy winning Oscars, and posing like Angelina Jolie, he steals the show as the school’s Dean.
Of course, with such an unusual show, it has always seemed to be two steps away from the NBC chopping block. What has frustrated me to no end is the outdated ratings system that is still in place, especially as TV viewing is quickly moving from cable boxes to internet TV providers (i.e. Hulu). Current ratings do not count these internet viewings. Of all the people I know who watch “Community,” all of them are doing so via the internet. So, to base a show’s success purely on Nielsen ratings seems ridiculous. I was sure the show wouldn’t make it past this season, especially when show creator Dan Harmon was fired last year and the season start day was pushed back multiple times. I prepared myself to say goodbye, but have been pleasantly surprised in the last month for three reasons:
-The show (Despite having a disappointing year, I’m attributing to the loss of Harmon) was picked up for another season
-Chevy Chase left the show (He was undoubtedly the biggest name on the show, but was always my least favorite character)
-Dan Harmon is back! (Actually, this is what prompted the post for me, as news of Harmon’s return was confirmed this weekend).
This past season was a bit disappointing, but I’m hoping that with the conditions above, “Community” can re-gain its footing in season 5.