Posts Tagged ‘Community’
For the first post back, I’m taking a look at the first all-new series of 2015, ABC’s Galavant, which is a show that took me somewhat by surprise because the advance word didn’t seem to be overwhelmingly positive. In addition, ABC’s strategy of double-pumping it over four weeks had the odor of burn-off. Added together, I was very wary going in, but I ended up being mildly shocked by just how much I enjoyed it.
Galavant stars the relatively unknown Joshua Sasse (Rogue, The Neighbors) as the titular Galavant, a knight suffers his love Madalena (Australian model Mallory Jansen) being taken from him by the effete and evil King Richard (a never-better Timothy Omundson from Deadwood and Psych). Galavant is later enlisted by the *deep breath* Princess Isabella Maria Lucia Elizabetta of Valencia (Strike Back’s Karen David) as her champion in a conflict with Richard, piquing his interest with word of how much Madalena claims to miss him. As the seconds to Galavant and Richard respectively, Luke Youngblood (Magnitude from Community – POP POP!!) and Vinnie Jones (various Guy Ritchie films) round out the cast.
Surprisingly, Galavant offers higher than average laughs in its first two episodes, mostly as a result of its Alan Menken-penned Flight Of The Conchords-esque songs that the characters use to flesh out the storylines. Additionally, a medieval musical comedy is rather unique for television right now, so it has its own niche to carve out in forms the comedy counterpart of sorts to similar (albeit non-musical) on-trend dramas like Game Of Thrones, Reign, and Outlander. My sense was that the premiere had a little more steam than the second episode did, largely because of the problems I had with what seemed like a miscast John Stamos’ performance as Galavant rival Sir Jean Hamm (unfortunately, that was actually the character’s name) in the second installment. Future episodes promise guest stars like Rutger Hauer, Anthony Stewart Head, and Ricky Gervais (!!), so hopefully they fare better than the admittedly game Stamos did.
Ultimately, you could do a lot worse than spending three or so hours with Galavant over the next month, though there may be more than that to come in the future since it did a surprising aggregate of 7.34 million viewers its first time out on Sunday. Though it’s not perfect, I do think that Galavant is beginning to charm me.
Episode 1.01/1.02 Grade: B
Top Lines Presented Out of Context:
“And tonight, you will join me in my bed. And we will do it!!”
“(Singing) And so what if you have that pesky little muffin top?” “Wait… what?”
“Holy shit I’m out of shape. That was a long song.”
With the upfronts coming next week, yesterday saw a HUGE flood of renewals and cancellations, some of which were surprising (and welcomed), some of which were no-brainers, and some of which were head-scratchers. Also, one show got cancelled AND picked up in the same day. Say whaa now? Let’s take a look at each of them bullet-point style:
• Community – We did it everyone. We. Did. It. NBC renewed Community for an (as of now) truncated 13-episode season but, by my count, 13 is more than zero so this is goddamned great news. The fly in the ointment? The feud between the superfluous Chevy Chase and showrunner Dan Harmon could possibly lead to Harmon stepping down as Community’s boss – which would really, really suck – but for now, let’s just focus on the fact that Community isn’t going anywhere. And that’s a very, very good thing.
• Cougar Town – I was almost as worried about this one as I was Community and it turns out it was for good reason, because it’s not going to be airing on ABC next season. Mainly because it’s moving to TBS. You read that right. The oft-mentioned but rarely-implemented fan dream of a favorite being cancelled and then picked up by another network actually worked in this case, as TBS has purchased the rights to all 63 of Cougar Town’s existing episodes and has ordered a third season with the entire cast still intact – no small feat given the fact that it’s moving from network to cable TV. Any way you look at it, this is a win for quality television and it sounds like Cougar Town is going to finally get the network love (and possibly the new title, finally) that it deserves.
• Parenthood – We’re putting this one in the win column, too. Although Parenthood stumbled a bit down the stretch in its third season but there were times in 2012 where it was network television’s best drama. Plus, we’re always gonna support Jason Katims shows here. We’re just built that way.
• 30 Rock – NBC’s bringing back 30 Rock for a victory lap of sorts, giving it 13 episodes to wrap up its seven seasons on the air. One wonders if Alec Baldwin is itching to move onto other things [resists urge to make a voicemail joke] but we can all admit that there’s no way that the show works without him. Figures… I finally start getting caught up on 30 Rock (midway through season five right now) just in time for it to stop being a living show.
• ABC Scripted Shows – ABC picked up a whole host of scripted shows of varying quality. In order from best to… not good, Suburgatory, Revenge, Once Upon A Time, Modern Family, Grey’s Anatomy, Castle, and The Middle all received new seasons. I’m particularly looking forward to getting caught up on Revenge this summer on Hulu as its had very good buzz (and ratings, for that matter) all season long. You’ll notice that Modern Family is in the middle of that list which is fitting, since it’s the very definition of an average TV show.
• ABC Unscripted Shows – ABC also picked up a bunch of unscripted shows as well, including Dancing With The Stars, The Bachelor, and Shark Tank. Insert big collective fart noise here.
• A Gifted Man – No one knew that this show was still on, right? Anyway… CBS cancelled it and I’d venture to say that, outside of those who actually work on A Gifted Man, no one even cares. Hell, I’m sure some of them don’t even care.
Basically, any day where Community and Cougar Town both get new seasons is a good one, so it’ll be interesting to see what other shows that are on the bubble (Parks And Recreation and Happy Endings, I’m looking at you) get picked up ahead of next week’s upfronts in the next couple of days.
EDIT: Parks And Recreation and Happy Endings were both picked up today, making this one helluva week for quality television. This isn’t what normally happens. I’m scared. Hold me.
In a charming bit of serendipity, HBO announced yesterday that it’s renewed its two newest comedies, Girls and Veep. I say serendipitous because I just wrote about Girls on this very site yesterday. Lesson to TV producers – if I write about your show, you’ll get renewed. FACT. All kidding aside, both of these moves seemed to be no-brainers based on the strength of both shows’ early returns. Girls, as I wrote in my review yesterday, brings Lena Dunham’s unique voice to television and the show’s examination of twentysomething women in NYC struggling with the cusp of adulthood has the potential (if it’s not there already) to be an essential show. I’ll likely have something up on Veep in the next few days but suffice it to say, it might have been my favorite comedy pilot since perhaps Community back in 2009. Both of these shows absolutely deserved a renewal – which is pretty much a fait accompli with HBO series – and they, along with shows like Game Of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire are helping to restore the HBO cache that had lost some luster in recent years.
TV Diary | Community – Episode 3.12 – “Contemporary Impressionists” – Original Airdate: 3/22/12
Episode Grade: B
I’m normally loathe to give NBC credit for anything as it relates to their treatment of Community. From putting it in the unenviable position of leading off one of the toughest television nights of the week against a monster (though inexplicable) hit like The Big Bang Theory to the unceremonious removal of the show from its schedule back in December, it’s easy to make a case that NBC hasn’t often done right by Community. With that in mind, it’s kind of surprising that NBC actually did the right thing in laying out Community’s return by airing its first two episodes out of order. “Urban Matrimony And The Sandwich Arts” was definitely an easier doorway for newcomers to walk through if they’d decided that they wanted to sample the show after hearing all of the hubbub from Community fans about its return and the ratings bore that out, as the show notched a season-high in both total viewers and in its rating in the 18-49 demographic. “Contemporary Impressionists,” on the other hand, is a much more esoteric installment that likely would have perplexed newbie viewers had it been the one to hit the air first. And it’s not bad, but it’s just not up to Community’s usual high standards. Opening after everyone has returned from semester break, the initial scene sets up the two main storylines that “Contemporary Impressionists” is to focus on: Abed running afoul of a celebrity impersonator service  after developing an addiction to hiring the impersonators to help him re-enact movie scenes, and Jeff’s declaration to everyone that the new therapist he’s seeing has prescribed anti-anxiety meds which make the narcissistic Winger even more confident in himself, much to budding psychologist Britta’s dismay. As any sitcom worth its salt is wont to do, the two plot threads intertwine as the episode ambles on with Troy enlisting everyone to work a party for the impersonator service  in order to help Abed, while Jeff’s ego is fed by his positioning as a Ryan Seacrest stand-in . Both provide laughs but neither are anything close to what the show is capable of when it’s at its best. Perhaps the most intriguing thing to come out of the episode is the potential fracture of the Troy/Abed BFF relationship after Troy expresses his frustration with Abed when, after expending considerable energy in keeping everyone in the study group on task at the bar mitzvah as a means of keeping Abed’s legs intact, Troy comes home from the event to see Abed with yet another celebrity impersonator . The two friends have a heart-to-heart  that ends with Abed declining Troy’s offer to go hang in their Dreamatorium room and the re-appearance of the Abed from the Dark Timeline from “Remedial Chaos Theory.” As The AV Club’s Todd VanDerWerff theorizes in his review of “Contemporary Impressionists,” Troy’s trying to hold onto the childlike whimsy of his friendship with Abed in the face of the reality of having to grow up and likely reluctantly embrace his “skill” for air conditioning repair . Do I think it’s likely that Abed and Troy will grow too far apart during the remainder of Community’s run? Not likely, but Community has shown itself to not fear breaking up the status quo so I suppose anything is possible. And, frankly? That’s one of the marks of a great show – one that’s unafraid to take chances and risks. That’s one of Community’s hallmarks and is why it has the immeasurable respect of so many. It’s also why it’s easy to excuse a “lesser” episode of the show like “Contemporary Impressionists.”
 Business name: The Doppel Gang.
 Since its owner, a former French Stewart impersonator who’s played by French Stewart himself, threatens to break Abed’s legs as repercussion for the $3K debt that Abed’s racked up with The Doppel Gang unless Troy gets the entire group to work a bar mitzvah as impersonators and the event goes off without a hitch.
 Any time someone compares him to the diminutive Seacrest, he hears in his head, “You’re more handsome than the guy who’s famous for being handsome.” That Joel McHale gets to play the impersonator of his real-life E! Network punching bag is a delightful meta touch.
 He apparently got a two-for-one deal on a Robin Williams stand-in, getting to do Patch Adams and then Popeye. Abed was to play Olive Oyl, naturally.
 Or, as much of one as a character like Abed can have.
 By all accounts, we haven’t seen the last of John Goodman or his Vice Dean Layborne’s attempt to pull Troy into Greendale’s air conditioning repair program.
*Just for completion’s sake, here’s who all of the major castmembers were stand-ins for at the bar mitzvah: Shirley (Oprah); Jeff (Ryan Seacrest); Annie (Judy Garland); Abed (Jamie Lee Curtis); Pierce (Fat Brando); Troy (Michael Jackson – Before); Britta (Michael Jackson – After).
*Jeff Winger is a giant douche. Although we’ve seen him come through for his friends on more than one occasion, he’s still a douche. But in “Contemporary Impressionists,” his douchiness was on steroids and it’s a credit to the inherent likeability (and considerable talent) of Joel McHale that we still invest in this guy and actually like him. Britta’s wannabe psychological methods to try to keep Jeff’s ego in check throughout the episode were inspired – “When you do too many push-ups it looks like you have boobs! You have an unusually high butt crack!” – and the climax of the b-story (Jeff morphing into an ego-driven Incredible Hulk) was humorous. There were funny spots but, again, this isn’t Community at its best. It’s easily Random Other Show best, but we’ve been conditioned to expect a bit more from Community.
*And the less that’s said about the c-story, the better. I’ll be completely honest – I didn’t even realize until he showed up within the first few minutes of “Contemporary Impressionists” that Chang had been absent in “Urban Matrimony And The Sandwich Arts” and you know what? I didn’t miss him. At all. Ken Jeong is a talented comedic actor but everything that Community has done since removing him as a professor at the end of season one has felt like an attempt to shoehorn a valued actor into spots that just aren’t working, and this season’s attempt to make Chang a security guard is even weaker than last year’s Chang-as-wannabe-group-member. I hate to say it because I do like Jeong, but it might just be time to cut bait on this character.
*It’s easy to contrast the Chang character with Dean Pelton, another supporting player who’s usually found in ancillary positions. However, unlike with Chang, it’s impossible to imagine Community without Pelton and that’s a credit to the immense talent of Jim Rash. Now, having a school administrator to play against makes much more sense than whatever the show’s tried to do with Chang but Rash is just so damn good in the role that he’s indispensible. His orgasmic collapse at the sight of Jeff in aviator sunglasses – “Oh my God… even his shadow! Look at his shadow!” – might have been one of my favorite moments in series’ history. It was complete perfection. Rash is the most overlooked member of the cast in general, but he’s one of the best without question.
*I’m assuming that the Tommy Lee Jones impersonator in Abed’s scene from The Fugitive in the episode’s first act isn’t supposed to be pretty good. Because if not? Yikes.
*Don’t think we didn’t see how into Jeff ripping off his shirt Annie was, Community. We saw it.
*Didn’t catch this myself, but Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall noted that the music that was used when Jeff awoke from his Hulk-esque rage on the side of the road was the same music used in The Incredible Hulk TV series when Bruce Banner found himself in similar situations. Very nice touch.
*”I’m very psyched for the new semester. Or should I say, “Intro To Human Psych-ed?'”
*”I’m an *exceptional* narcissist, Britta.”
*”We’re broke, Ben. We now get 80% of our electricity from that apartment building across the street.”
*”I don’t know who told you that pouting was an option for you, but all you’re making me feel right now is hatred for Renee Zellweger.”
*”Thank you, sir. You won’t regret this unless I rise up against you. I have no idea why I said that.”
*”Oh, that thing about Danny Thomas? I looked it up too. Weird.”
*”Thank you, Leonard. For that compliment and for your service to this country.”
*”Final boarding call, Beefcake Airways.”
*”What do I look like? A sucker?” “French Stewart.”
*”Pierce, who came over in the middle of the night that one time that you forgot how to fart?”
*”Oh zip it, White Jacko.”
*”Britta – stop talking. If you have anything else to say, say it in a high-pitched voice while walking backwards.” “Jeff is in grave danger. Hee hee!”
*”I’m Brando? Could be under ‘Fat.'”
*”Can you believe some jerk brought a scalpel to a bris?”
*”Boogie Nights. You’re Fat Burt Reynolds, right?” “I’ll take it.”
*”Nooo. Diagnostically, you’re way out of my league. I’m gonna go with someone a little less complicated. Like Abed.”
*Episode courtesy of Hulu below.
TV Diary | Community – Episode 3.11 – “Urban Matrimony And The Sandwich Arts” – Original Airdate: 3/15/12
Episode Grade: A-
If you’ve spent any time on the site recently (or at all, really), it’ll be pretty obvious to you that I’m a huge Community fan. The three month wait for new episodes has been excruciating both in that I wanted more fresh Community and in that the uncertainty of its hiatus was very troubling. Thankfully, NBC finally – FINALLY – saw fit to put it back on its schedule after 30 Rock did no better in the Thursday night leadoff slot and here we are. Despite my excitement over finally – FINALLY – getting a new episode, I was a little nervous to actually do a review. You see, as great as Community is, it can often be a difficult show to write about. Not only did I want to be able to write something that does justice to such a special show, but trying to write about it in general can often be akin to banging your head against a brick wall. It can sometimes be impenetrable , so this piece comes with no small amount of anxiety. With that said, the word that can best describe “Urban Matrimony And The Sandwich Arts” is… “normal.” It was a very intelligent move on either the part of Community’s producers or on the part of NBC to schedule this episode as the show’s return because if ever people who hadn’t ever watched the show were going to sample it… now was probably the time. Between the online furor over its benching, the constant mentions of the show on Twitter, co-star Jim Rash’s Oscar win as a screenwriter of the George Clooney film The Descendants, and the cast’s (most specifically via Joel McHale’s vehicle on The Soup) tireless efforts at raising awareness of the show, Community was in the zeitgeist and this offered a perfect opportunity to capture a new segment of the American viewing public . People love weddings and the re-union of Shirley and Andre (Malcolm-Jamal Warner)  served as the backdrop for the episode, allowing for Shirley’s internal conflict of whether to focus on her impending nuptials or her fledgling sandwich business with Pierce, Jeff and Britta’s distaste for marriage as an institution, and Troy and Abed’s struggle to “de-whimsify” themselves in order to act normal on Shirley’s big day. Definitely less esoteric than Community usually goes in for, “Urban Matrimony And The Sandwich Arts” serves as an easy in for neophyte viewers who wondered what all of the fuss was about while also still featuring some of the weirdness that longtime fans flock to the show to see. After the episode opens in the Greendale cafeteria with the eatery’s in-house coffee stand out of business, leaving Annie to wonder where she was going to get her “cappuccinos and Sarah McLachlan CDs,” Britta suggests that Shirley and Pierce go into business together by opening a sandwich shop in the coffee stand’s place. Shirley is initially reluctant but signs on, only to have Andre show up moments later complete with an a cappella group performing Boyz II Men’s “Motownphilly” as part of a marriage proposal. After accepting, she back burners the small business idea only to be persuaded back into it after Britta offers to plan the wedding for her, feeling that Shirley’s using it as an excuse to not do something for herself . In slightly predictable fashion, Shirley and Pierce’s pitch to Dean Pelton about the shop ends up conflicting with the wedding rehearsal, causing Andre to question Shirley’s commitment to their marriage but they eventually work out their issues through a drunken Jeff and Britta’s attempt to marry each other in Shirley and Andre’s stead , ending with the two happily marrying. Shirley’s been the member of the ensemble who’s probably been the most underserved during the series’ run, so it’s nice to see her get a spotlight episode here and run with it. A wedding that comes off nicely is a fitting end to the episode as the joyful tone of the storyline mirrors Community’s fans’ happiness in finally having the show back on the airwaves. Community is back y’all. Long may it live.
 I actually mean that in a very good way. There aren’t many other shows like this one.
 And the strategy seems to have worked, at least initially. Community returned to a season high in both total viewership and rating in the coveted 18-49 demographic.
 Looking resplendent in a very Bill Cosby-esque sweater, naturally.
 This also leads to one of the episode’s best gags: After offering her help, Shirley begins laughing at the absurdity of Britta, of all people, planning a wedding and during the laughter a “Literally two full minutes later” title card pops up. Britta then reiterates that she’s serious, gets a death stare from Shirley as a “One minute later” placard appears, and only then does Shirley accept her offer.
 More on this in the Miscellany.
*Literally the first line of my notes for the episode: YESSSSSS!! I’m kinda happy it’s back, in case you couldn’t tell.
*So… the Jeff and Britta getting married thing. In what was essentially the episode’s b-story, Jeff and Britta find that they share a distaste for the institution of marriage. She thinks it’s an antiquated notion that demeans a woman’s worth (and that she secretly fears she’ll fall into since she “comes from a long line of wives and mothers”) while Jeff, in being asked to give a toast at the reception, realizes that he has nothing of value to say before coming to grips with the fact that his problems with weddings stem from his father walking out on his mother when he was just a wee tot. Community being Community, Jeff and Britta both get drunk at the rehearsal and badger one another into a game of chicken and almost end up married as a result until Andre and Shirley step in and use Jeff and Britta as surrogates for the myriad issues they’re experiencing. As always, drunk Jeff and Britta are funny Jeff and Britta and Joel McHale and Gillian Jacobs have chemistry to spare when they’re in hate-lust with each other. This was a good use of the characters in a non-central storyline.
*Pierce’s idea of portraying a young, hip businessman is dying his hair and wearing a suit, to which Troy responds, “Pierce, why do you look like a wealthy murderer?”
*Flush with Hawthorne Wipes money after the death of his father, one of Pierce’s business ideas to expand Hawthorne Industries is an automatic security camera that can distinguish customers’ friends from intruders. Of course the camera would then identify Abed, Troy, Shirley, and Andre as “intruders.” Jeff: “Wireless racism. The future of the past is now.”
*Pierce’s other money-making idea: the Trouser Bench, an automated bench housed inside a pair of trousers – “For the man on the go who makes frequent stops.”
*However, the trouser bench still has prototype problems. Take it, Pierce: “I had to shelve the Trouser Bench anyway. There are still some parts of the prototype that need to be extracted. Maybe you’re misunderstanding. I mean, from my butt.”
*Is anyone surprised that Annie has a wedding scrapbook… and it’s gigantic?
*Love that Troy’s wearing Pierce’s dad’s ivory toupee from “Advanced Gay.”
*Jeff’s heart is apparently filled with Annie’s boobs and scotch.
*As longtime viewers know, there’s a difference between “Annie’s boobs” and “Annie’s Boobs.” And Annie’s Boobs makes a surprise appearance at the wedding!
*I also love Abed’s “normal” voice.
*The song that everyone dances to after Shirley and Andre exchange vows is totally a riff on The Cosby Show’s theme, right?
*Speaking of voices, according to Andre, Shirley’s Miss Piggy voice is her “sexy voice.” (Shudder).
*”And I would have done away with that give a penny, take a penny nonsense. If the good Lord wanted you to have a penny, you’d have one.”
*”What do you think, Shirley? Should I have my people call your people? I don’t mean, ‘your people.'”
*”Baby… I have loved you since there was a Soviet Union and only one Daman Wayans.”
*”You’re anti-wedding now?” “No, she’s just pro-anti.” “No to everything you both said.”
*”Someone tell Britta what an analogy is.” “I know what an analogy is. It’s a thought with another thought’s hat on.”
*”Just nut up and die alone.”
*”We’ll try not to embarrass you at your community college library wedding.”
*”Will somebody please call all the ambulances?”
*”Oh, did someone say ‘Annie,’ ‘help,’ and something about hydrangeas?”
*”Well, great… flowers look good in a pot. There are people dying in Uganda.”
*”Ugh.. Stop. Webster’s dictionary defines? That’s the Jim Belushi of speech openings. It accomplishes nothing but everyone keeps using it and no one understands why.”
*”Shut up, Leonard. Those teenage girls you play ping-pong with are doing it ironically.”
*”I don’t care if anyone believes it, jackass. It’s a fact.” “Then prove it, ding dong!”
*”What about babies?” “What about ’em?” “How many?” “Pick a number, dick. It’s not like it’s up to me.”
*”I’m a BLAST at weddings.”
*Episode courtesy of Hulu below.