Communitys' Third Season Best Ever
· Dan Harmon
· Joel McHale
· Gillian Jacobs
· Danny Pudi
· Donald Glover
· Alison Brie
· Yvette Nicole Brown
· Chevy Chase
· Ken Jeong
· Jim Rash
· John Goodman
· Michael K. Williams
Television Review: Community: Season 3
by Eric Deters
Published: June 19, 2012
With the news that “Community” will be returning for a fourth season in the fall, fans of the show (including myself) could not be more excited. At least, not until the three-episode season finale. Words can scarcely describe precisely how great “Community” is, but I’ll try to do it justice; “Community” is the best show on the air right now, possibly one of the best of all time, and this season may be the best one yet.
This season started right off with two of the greatest modern actors as guest stars: John Goodman as Vice Dean Laybourne of the Greendale Community College Air Conditioning Repair School, and Michael K. Williams (formerly Omar Little from “The Wire”) as biology professor Kane. Laybourne is arguably the antagonist for this season, as he orchestrates an inordinate amount of schemes and tries to break apart the Study Group (also dubbed the “Greendale Seven” near the end of the season) on multiple occasions. Their roles, however, are fairly limited overall, as Williams is in a criminally small number of episodes, whereas Goodman is featured in a hefty amount near the end.
Following the show’s tradition of having the central class act as an allegory for the themes of each week’s episode, Biology class relates to the lives of the Study Group interacting and often clashing with each other. The prime example, and one of the show’s greatest plotlines, is a two-part pillow vs. blanket fort war in the episodes “Digital Exploration of Interior Design” and “Pillows and Blankets,” the latter being a pitch-perfect parody of Ken Burns documentaries such as “The Civil War,” right down to casting Keith David as the narrator. The second half of the season also included another particularly stellar parody, this time of the “Law and Order” series. Even as a person who typically finds that style of show to be boring and mundane, the “Community” take on the genre is so self-aware as to make a mockery of that style that I was drawn in instantly.
The amazing thing about this season was that neither half overshadowed the other. The season started with considerably less “Community”-esque episodes, but still included the gem that is “Remedial Chaos Theory,” which remains my all-time favorite episode of the show. In the episode, a simple die toss to choose who had to bring up the pizza resulted in six different and wonderfully connected timelines. There was a literal Chekhov’s Gun, an evil Norwegian troll doll, Shirley baking, Annie being nurse-like, Jeff hitting his head, Pierce being insistent about the fact that him sleeping with Eartha Kitt “came up naturally,” and an end tag to rival Troy and Abed’s Spanish Rap from “Spanish 101.” It embodies the show’s sensibilities and off-the-wall humor better than any other episode I can think of, and it manages to be engaging regardless of past experience with the show. Episodes like “Remedial Chaos Theory” are what give “Community” a run for “Arrested Development’s” money in the sit-com arena.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the few low points of the season (granted, “Community’s” lows are still television highs). While it’s one of my absolute favorite standalone episodes and a wonderfully creative showpiece on the part of the writers and animators, it still stands that “Digital Estate Planning,” in which the Study Group tries to win Pierce’s inheritance from Gilbert Lawson (played by another guest star, Giancarlo Esposito, of “Breaking Bad” fame) through a videogame Cornelius Hawthorne created, has almost no effect on the plot, and in the last five or so episodes of the season, that stands out. The Christmas episode “Regional Holiday Music” was hit or miss (mostly in that it hit for me and missed for almost everyone else I know), the Halloween episode played with alternate storylines immediately after the masterpiece that was “Remedial Chaos Theory,” which made the creativity of the idea in general lose a bit of luster, and the season premiere, aside from a hilarious homage to “2001: A Space Odyssey,” wasn’t quite as funny as last seasons, or most of the episodes following it. This does all come with a caveat, though, in that the standards for “Community” are so high that it’s inevitable that it won’t reach them all the time. This is only something I noticed in retrospect, though, to be honest; every episode is such a pure example of what makes the television medium great that it’s nigh impossible not to be floored after every episode.
I feel like that’s as far as I need to go when it comes to talking about this show. The performances are universally excellent as usual, with standout Jim Rash (now an Oscar-winning writer) being particularly exceptional in the “Hearts of Darkness” parody episode “Documentary Filmmaking: Redux.” Every week, I try my hardest to find something to dislike about my favorite show on television, and every week I continue to be surprised that I find nothing. It’s difficult for me to contain my excitement for this show that I love so dearly, and I hope that rather than some deeply analytical review will convince you that it’s worth watching if you haven’t latched onto it yet.