Lately I’ve noticed a disturbing trend about myself: I don’t get as excited about things as I used to. Perhaps it’s a merely function of getting older – I just hit the big 3-0 six months ago, after all – or, maybe, all the years of crushing cynicism and relentless snark has finally caught up to me. Passion, perhaps, is the provenance of the young and the unencumbered, and I’m no longer either of the two. For example, it would have shocked the ten-years-younger version of myself, maybe even the 2009 model, to learn that it took me, a devoted Wes Anderson-ophile, two months to see The Grand Budapest Hotel, especially after making a pilgrimage to see The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic during their respective opening weekends, and attending a screening of The Darjeeling Limited by myself because I just couldn’t wait any longer, even if that meant sitting alone in a small theater on a Tuesday afternoon. Likewise, I’ve yet to see X-Men: Days of Future Past, and that’s already been out for a whole week and is possibly the X-Men movie that I’ve been praying for these last fourteen years. There are spoilers abound and I run the very real risk of having the movie ruined before I get around to seeing it. It’s a danger I’m well aware of, and one, for some reason, I’m at peace with. Perhaps most egregiously – and this something I’m very much ashamed to admit on this blog – I’ve yet to watch last week’s Survivor finale. Yes, I was out-of-town for two weeks, but I’ve been back for four days already. Really, what good excuse could I possibly have for not immediately marathoning the last three episodes, including the two hour-finale and post-show live cast reunion? Heresy, is it not? Not only am I liable to inadvertently stumble upon the final result at any turn, removing any drama upon viewing, but shouldn’t this be tearing me up inside? It’s Survivor, the subject I’ve perhaps committed more space to on this blog than any other, and, yet, I’ll get to it when I get it to it. Urgency, shockingly, I do not feel. It’s not apathy or indifference – that would be truly alarming – but, rather, caring a bit less, being more patient. It’s an odd, peculiar, somewhat concerning notion to not experience the same sense of pressure, immediacy, and life-or-death importance about these shows and films and bands that I always did. Am I depressed? Should I look into Lexapro? But the change is also freeing in a way. There is a flipside to caring a little less. It means that it doesn’t hurt so much when something you love is taken away from you.
Category Archives: Greendale Human
Don’t Cry Because It’s Over, Smile Because It Happdeaned: Five (and Maybe More) Seasons of ‘Community’ and the Truly Jumping the Snark
Late at night last week we were absent-mindedly watching a rerun of The Office (“The Delivery, Part 2“), which is something we don’t often do. However, our decision paid dividends when something caught our eye during a commercial break, an apparent allusion to another NBC Thursday Night comedy. Thirteen seconds into a Honda Accord spot featuring two preternaturally mature, Wes Anderson-esque children, we just barely noticed the distinct markings of a potato chip brand recently featured on Community, that being the preferred chip of Troy, Let’s.
A couple enhanced screenshots:
Let’s Chips has actually popped up several times in the show, including in Season 4 when it was reviewed during the end credits tag by Greendale’s foremost nonagenarian and Korean War Vet (North Korean side), Leonard. The verdict was a firm “Buy,” advice that was clearly heeded by Dean Pelton and Troy. Britta, however, insists on sticking with her far inferior “Spwingles” brand chips, driving a potentially insurmountable wedge between her and Troy.
So what gives? Is this a wink to Community? A subliminal message intended to subvert viewers into watching the show against their will, thereby giving the series hope for a fifth season? Or has the Community soundstage already been shut down and dismantled, the props sold off to highest car commercial bidder? Should we expect to see Yard-Margs from Skeepers in an Daewoo commercial?
Or, perhaps, this a clue, an easter egg, showing that the world of Greendale is far greater than we ever imagined.
Last week in our Community season recap (and Dan Harmon era post-mortem) we listed our top five episodes from the series’s three seasons. We included on that list “Contemporary American Poultry” because, besides being brilliant, it was the first episode to truly bring it all together and show what that series could be, the way that it could play with genre but still be entirely Community. But if we had to identify when we fell in love with the show, that would have to be “Comparative Religion,” just a few episodes earlier. While not as strong of an episode, certainly not as ambitious, it was the first episode we were excited to watch again (and we did). If “Poultry” was the promise of what was to come, “Religion” was the promise of the promise of what was to come. Which is why we were so pleased to see “anthony michael hall on community” as one of today’s top search terms.
That could be one of the top search terms for as long as this blog exists and we would never complain.
Today we bring you the final entry in our “Must Flee TV” series, our thoughts on the end of ‘Community’ Season Three, and, well, the end of an era.
Full disclosure: when we wrote our Dan Harmon obituary earlier this week we had not yet had the chance to view the final three Season Three Community episodes. We felt comfortable going ahead with the in memorial post because there would be nothing in those final episodes of the Harmon run to change our opinion of his work and influence on Community. Unless one of the episodes was a shot-by-shot remake of an unremarkable episode of Friends, he could do nothing to tarnish his legacy, and, actually, they probably could pull that episode off (and by Season Six he probably would have gotten to that too). But, as it turned out, the show had still yet another level to go, there were still recesses of our mind left to blow.
Perhaps only when Fox burned off the last four Arrested Developments against the Olympics has viewing a block of episodes felt so bittersweet, such a painful joy. But unlike the Arrested finale night, the last three episodes of Community left us with little closure, and much uncertainty. If anything, we’re sadder now than we were at the end of Arrested (obviously we could not know that it would eventually come back on Netflix, and we would have been foolish to pin our hopes on such a thing, especially since Netflix was in its nascent stages then). We know our show is coming back, but we don’t know in what form, if it’ll continue on the same genius path, if it’ll forge something new and different, or if it’ll be a morbid a shadow of itself, a crushing reminder of what was.
In our discussion last week about Community‘s upcoming move to Friday nights we confidently predicted that, despite swirling rumors, we saw no reason why Dan Harmon would not return as Community showrunner. Perhaps we should have been more precise with our diction. What we meant was that we saw no reason why Harmon would choose not to return. The idea that NBC/Sony would not bring him back never crossed our minds. So while we still stand by what we wrote last week we were shocked and dismayed (like everyone else) when we learned over the weekend that Harmon was replaced as showrunner and essentially fired from his own show (however, unlike everyone else, we read the news on our phone during a bachelor party in Chicago, after sleeping off the night before).
We’ve admittedly, regrettably, been remiss with our recaps and analysis of NBC’s Thursday night comedies. There was a time when we provided weekly thoughts on ‘The Office’ (luckily our neglect kicked in just around the time when Friday morning post-mortems on that show would have been unbearable) and periodic temperature checks on ‘Parks and Recreation.’ With the season already complete for half of these shows, and the other two concluding their runs this week, we thought it was high time that we put aside some real estate to check in on these programs, starting today with a discussion about ‘Community’ (whose season (and not series) finale airs Thursday night (preceded by two other new episodes and the ’30 Rock’ closer).
NBC announced their Fall 2012 pick ups last week and, despite lots of rumors and hand-wringing, Community will return for a fourth season. That much wasn’t quite a surprise to us. Could NBC have axed the criminally low-rated comedy? Sure, and they would have the cold, emotionless Nielsen numbers to back it up. But, at the same time, they know what they’re getting with Community. Will it ever break out into a Friends or even These Friends of Mine sized hit? Unlikely at this point. But does it have a devoted, die-hard fan base? Absolutely. Attractive cast? You bet. A smart, discerning, relatively affluent audience? We guess. Close to reaching enough episodes for lucrative syndication? Definitely. So the renewal, especially for the 13-episode order it received, is not all that shocking to us. What was unexpected, however, was the announcement at the NBC Upfronts that come this fall Community will be found on Fridays, as the lead-in to…Grimm?
Tonight brings us the long-awaited return our beloved Community, the show that is, if you ask us, far and away the funniest, most innovative show on television (or off television, as the last couple months would have it). While we still had Parks and Recreation, and welcomed back 30 Rock with open arms, Thursday nights just weren’t the same without the Greendale study group, just not as magical.
However, even though we dearly missed the show, and do worry about its chronically low-ratings and tenuous chances of renewal, we were not in panic-mode like some others were over its benching. First off, the show was not canceled, and even though there was no definitive return date when the hiatus was announced, there was never a doubt that it would return this season. Even if the show pulls in dismal ratings (which it unfortunately does), it wouldn’t make much financial sense for NBC to produce a full season and then never air the back half. It’s not like Community will fare much worse than any of their other comedies, save for The Office. So the hiatus was not a punishment, or a really even a threat. Just a business decision, one that NBC scheduling has now applied to Parks and Rec, as that equally wonderful show takes a break til late April.
Before we get to tonight’s Idol, we’re going to continue with our Saved by the Bell themed Gratuitous Search Term Bait of the Day, this time working with the familiar search term “community anthony michael hall.” But, once again, we’re going to put a Bayside twist on this, and to do so, let’s play a little word, or concept, association. Where does Community take place? Well, at a community college, of course. And what’s a broader word for “college?” How about “school?” Sure, school. And when we think of Anthony Michael Hall and school what comes to mind? The Breakfast Club, of course! And where does that movie chronicle? A day of detention! And where have we also seen a day of detention? Why, in the Saved by the Bell season episode literally titled “Day of Detention.” Boom! Six degrees of Saved by the Bell.
So, now, as you might have guessed, here’s a brief but colorful clip from that memorable day:
And, remember, don’t confuse this episode with “Senior Cut Day.” It’s an easy mistake.
Last Monday on the WTF podcast host Marc Maron presented his riveting interview with comedy legend Gallagher, which finally gave us the impetus to listen to the much buzzed about podcast. The interview, which ended early when Gallagher took offense to Maron’s “douchey” tone (as Gallagher’s manager later described it) and stormed off, was truly a fascinating discussion about comedy, even with Gallagher’s digressions about photons and electrons. We enjoyed the interview so much that we wrote about it here last week (we also basically report on any half-way relevant Gallagher news), which is why today’s search term is “gallagher wtf.”
But the best part about that interview is that it introduced us to the world of the WTF podcasts, the archives of which are packed with even more interesting, enlightening, insightful interviews about comedy. We soon downloaded the WTF app to our Droid and while spending 2 hours in traffic one day and an 1 1/2 hours the next we consumed Maron’s discussions with the likes of Dave Foley, A.D. Miles, Rob Corddry, and Ken Jeong. They were all no holds barred interviews that touched as much on the principles of comedy as much as they did on personal foibles, psychological defects and inner demons. Basically, comedians are fucked up. But on WTF they’re completely open and honest about it, simultaneously making the world of comedy both appealing and repulsive. But, like the podcast, there never seems to be a dull moment.
We could also sing the praises of Maron, but we’ll leave that to this New York Times profile. So instead we’ll add that we’re psyched to listen to his interviews with Judd Apatow, David Cross, Adam McKay, Ira Glass and Mike Birbiglia. Meanwhile, you should go to the WTF website or iTunes and subscribe to the podcast immediately. AND if you still need some convincing, here’s a few recent interviews that we really enjoyed:
Today’s search term is “snl pegasus mural,” which means that someone was looking for this middling, often painful, somewhat baffling Saturday Night Live sketch:Vodpod videos no longer available.
But it’s not our job to just give you what you asked for. No, our job is give you what you didn’t even know you wanted. To show you something better. To light up the path towards brilliance. And with that in mind here’s a far superior Pegasus-related clip from last night’s phenomenal Dungeons & Dragons-themed Community:Vodpod videos no longer available.
From the first ten seconds of this episode you could tell it was going to be special, and it was just another example, in what has become a long line of examples, of how Community is totally redefining what it means to be a television comedy. The way they play with genre while still keeping the characters consistent is a marvel, their ability to reinvent themselves without sacrificing the greater story arcs truly remarkable. Basically, they’ve gone ahead and blown up our conception of a network sitcom, truly breaking new ground, blazing a trail. Freeing Draconis and shining a light on brilliance.
Perhaps there hasn’t been a show that has mixed this much deft comedy with as much genuine heart since Freaks and Geeks. Which is why we would be remiss not to bring you that one of a kind show’s own Dungeons & Dragons-centric moments. In many ways, these stories are two sides of the same coin:
Now if we could only see a showdown between Carlos the Dwarf and Hector the Well-Endowed.