Thursday, April 28, 2016
'Community' S6 DVD: Sitcom Review Studies
This review of the Sony Pictures Home Entertainment DVD release of the 2015 sixth (and final?) season of the Yahoo (nee Must-See NBC) sitcom coming roughly two months after the March 8 2016 release date of this set is very true to the gleefully incompetent and lazy spirit of this series. As former community college student and current quarter-assed professor Jeff Winger (whom Joel McHale of "The Soup" perfectly portrays) would stoically say, your not-so-humble reviewer sucks.
Fans of sitcoms/pop culture/wry humor are very aware of the long and tortured history (which includes former star Chevy Chase essentially stating that once and future show runner Dan Harmon is a fat f**k who is destined to die by 50) of this sitcom that could. The most recent significant developments are NBC popping the bubble regarding "Community" after five seasons and streaming service Yahoo adopting the show for a sixth one but subsequently shutting down the platform for that series
As an aside, the aforementioned course (no pun intended) of "Community" largely parallels that of the 2000s ABC (nee Must-See NBC) sitcom "Scrubs." This quirky series about young doctors in love is known for surviving things such as low ratings and even having the former hospital in which it films being sold out from under it.
For the benefit of the unoriented, "Community" tells the tales of a group of misfits at the deplorable school even by community college standards Greendale who develop relationships of varying degrees of closeness. The underlying bonds consist of their varying degrees of quirkiness and suckiness.
The evolution of the series has Winger and his dysfunctional posse transitioning from a study group in the early seasons, to a "Save Greendale" committee that reflects both the absurdity of students spending several years at a two-year school and the aforementioned bubble, to the troubleshooting activities committee on which they serve in the sixth season.
Aforementioned fat f**k Harmon stays true to the spirit of "Community" in having the two new faces (at least partially) maintain the spirit of dearly (and not so dearly) departed friends. Newly hired organized and level-headed college administrator Francessca "Frankie" Dart (played by Paget Brewster) takes over the role of adult den mother vacated by the departed God-fearing Shirley (played by Yvette Nicole Brown, who leaves in Season Five to care for her real-life father only to quickly be cast in the CBS remake of "The Odd Couple."). A scene in which Dart makes the rest of the gang wear baby bonnets and bibs and say infantile phrases that she writes arguably is the best of the season.
The veterans speculating if black late-50s 90-era inventor/Winnebago dwelling/newly enrolled Greendale student Elroy Patashnk is the new Shirley, the new (Chase's character) Pierce, or the new (20-something black man) Troy illustrates that Patashnik literally and figuratively brings something new to the study-room table that is the series-long focal point of "Community." His best episode is one in which the original cast members actively try to get him to like them.
The still amusing S6 not packing the punch (and lacking the one-percenter jokes that distinguish prior seasons) reflects the age of the show more than the move to Yahoo. Harmon even states in a special feature on the making-of this season that Yahoo is a much more mellow taskmaster than NBC.
The Greendale Seven repeatedly commenting on the repetitive nature of their escapades evokes thoughts of the eighth season of the classic '60s "Bewitched" sitcom in which the characters largely go through the motions and mixed-marriage wife Samantha actually comments on the nearly decade-long pattern of mortal husband Darrin enraging witch mother-in-law Endora only to have Endora cast a relevant spell on that man. This also is true regarding numerous other classic shows.
Several episodes stay true to the spirit of "Community" by having one center around a campus-wide paintball game, another involve making a minimal budget scifi film, and other episodes involve beyond gut classes such as "Ladders" and one on grifting that is a con itself.
A personal S6 favorite has the committee engaging in preemptive damage control regarding an imminent attack ad that asserts that Greendale awarded a dog a diploma. The episode itself is classic "Community," and the counter-attack ad that Winger et al produce is fall-on-the-floor hilarious.
The extras extend beyond the aforementioned "making-of" feature to a gag reel and deleted scenes.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Community" is encouraged to either email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.