Wednesday, March 18, 2015

6x01 "Ladders" & 6x02 "Lawnmower Maintenance and Postnatal Care" (Once More Into The Fray)


"Ladders" & "Lawnmower Maintenance and Postnatal Care"
Original Airdate: March 17, 2015

To say that I had a lot of problems with Community's fifth season would be an understatement. In a year that began with promise, the series quickly dove into its stale bag of tricks (Everything is so meta! Look, we did an homage just for the sake of an homage! Why don't we just re-visit Jeff/Britta/Annie again? We haven't done that in a while! When all else fails, have Joel lose his shirt!) and I found myself longing for much more than the show was delivering. I ached for the days when characters shared meaningful scenes together. You remember these people, right? Seven unique individuals with their own backstories and tragedies and quirks who were more than just punchlines or archetypes. Instead of growth, I found that the fifth season displayed stagnation at best and downright regression at worst. With two fewer study group members, I expected stories to focus on Shirley as a character or Annie or maybe even the relationship between the three remaining women. Instead, not a single character grew (well, maybe Abed a bit but even that's a stretch) throughout the year and we were plopped down in the exact same place we began: the study group failing to succeed in the real world, having to save Greendale, and then being forced to essentially stay there forever.

If it sounds like I'm bitter, it's because I am. Community is what started this blog in the first place. And it wasn't flawless when it began, but it WAS focused on a trajectory -- it was centered around growth and development and change and friendship and acceptance. And somehow, along the way, love triangles and homages and over-the-top antics watered down those messages and made them less powerful, less frequent, and -- consequently -- less important. The characters sort of blended into this weird and wild and crazy world of Greendale to the point where the school itself actually became a more important character over the years than anyone in the study group. What should have been a show about people learning to accept others became a show focused on GREENDALE as the star. And that's when the fissures began to occur, really: when the school is more important than the people in it, there are problems.

Now, I know this all sounds like I hate the once-NBC series. I don't. I don't hate Community at all. It's because I love it so much that I'm more hurt at how it's disappointed me over the years. But I genuinely want the show to succeed. I want it to return to the exploration of human nature and friendship and love and -- very appropriately -- community. And that's actually something that you need to do in order to examine television critically: you need to look at where it is flawed and where it is successful and evaluate how the series can grow and develop and what is hindering that development. Oh, sure, I fangirl over things still in the series just like everyone else. But for a long time, whenever I watched a television show I loved, I would gloss over its flaws in favor of squeeing. That's... well, not what I want to do anymore. And that's not what my reviews will be anymore (I can't speak for Deborah who -- in case you didn't know -- I am SUPER pleased to announce will be co-reviewing with me this season!)

So if you would like to find a place that fangirls over Community and worships at the feet of Dan Harmon, I can kindly direct you to a few places. But if you want to have some frank discussions about what works when the show is at its absolute best and what completely and totally does not work (*gasp!*) then this is the place for you this year! 

Because, as Orlando Jones so brilliantly said: "Criticizing something doesn't mean you want it to fail. A passionately engaged audience is better than an indifferent one."

So here we are, six seasons into the series (now airing on Yahoo! TV because why not) and I'm ready to embrace this new year provided it delivers some great character arcs. And given this Debbie Downer introduction, I bet you're just dying to know what I thought of the one-hour return to Greendale Community College, aren't you? Well, let's get to it then and discuss where we are at the beginning of season six and where we could be by the end of it.


"Ladders"

I'll get my qualms out of the way now because I actually really enjoyed our hour return to Greendale Community College and would like to talk more about what I hope these episodes mean in terms of character growth and development the rest of this season. Qualm #1: The meta in "Ladders" was extremely heavy-handed, particularly the scene between Abed and Frankie. I totally understand the need for introduction to the characters and to their stories. However... let's be real here: I doubt Community has any new viewers on Yahoo! TV. I would venture to say that 99% of the viewing audience has been with the series for the past five years and needs no real introduction to these characters (new characters like Frankie aside). I was thinking about every season premiere ("Pilot," "Anthropology 101," "Biology 101," "History 101," and "Repilot") and do you know what I discovered? The premieres for seasons one, two, and three were crazy and shenanigan-filled but they weren't heavy-handed in their meta. Even "Biology 101" (which saw Abed treating the study group like a television show) wasn't heavy-handed. Abed's quirks were acknowledged and he got to deliver that amazingly cold line to Jeff ("In real life, we have this. We have you."). It's only in the past few years that the show's premieres have been pretty heavy with the meta and it's a bit off-putting to me, as someone who's a frequent viewer. I often feel the need to yell: "WE GET IT ALREADY" at my television screen, honestly.

My second qualm at the moment is Chang. I love Ken Jeong, but the show doesn't seem to know exactly what to do with Chang and really hasn't since... oh, season two? Chang is always at his best when he's opposing the study group. But over the years, he's gone from being the "big bad" as it were to a really dumbed down version of his former self and apparently an actual member of the study group? I enjoyed Chang trying to get in with the group in season two. That was interesting and provided for a lot of comedy ("Asian Population Studies" is the perfect example of how that season worked with that storyline). I enjoyed him most in season one. And now I just feel like his presence detracts from the overall series. I love Ken Jeong, again, so don't get me wrong there. But I just don't honestly find Chang interesting or compelling or really funny anymore. So scenes or stories with him are my least favorite kind.

Anyway, with all of that out of the way, let's talk about what I enjoyed regarding "Ladders"! The episode begins, quite reminiscent of the pilot with Dean Pelton announcing every study group member and their contribution to saving Greendale. Unfortunately for Annie, the dean's announcement causes her to realize that they forgot one project -- the accumulation of frisbees on the roof. Apparently there are so many up there that it causes the roof to collapse. Whoops. Dean Pelton then announces -- amidst the study group's discussion of Shirley leaving (at least we addressed this!) -- that he's hired a consultant for the school named Frankie Dart. She's driven. She's tough. She's the kind of woman who is all about business and numbers and productivity. And obviously, the study group feels threatened by her (because they're threatened by anyone remotely normal) and rebel immediately against the idea of changing the school in the ways she proposes.

I really loved the introduction of Frankie because I love the notion that Jeff, Britta, and Annie are so threatened by change and by people controlling them that they rebel immediately. Greendale has taught these once level-headed individuals that absurd is good and weird is even better. Abed, meanwhile, connects with Frankie even though she admits that she doesn't own a television and that should immediately drive Abed away. But I love the Abed/Frankie conversation where she requests his help because these are two characters who are extreme opposites and yet, they understand and respect each other. Abed doesn't get a lot of respect from the study group and they treat him with kid gloves (as evidenced by Annie not telling Abed about what happened to Shirley). But he respects Frankie because she's so upfront and so honest with him. Not even his closest friends can do that. And Frankie genuinely respects Abed and wants his help because she acknowledges the fact that he has more to offer than he thinks. In summary: I love the exploration of this relationship in "Ladders" and the fact that we had the opportunity to learn more about Abed and embrace Frankie in the process.

Unfortunately for Frankie, Jeff, Britta, and Annie do not go quietly into that good night and when Frankie bans alcohol on campus, the logical (duh doy) thing to do is to construct an underground speakeasy in Shirley's Sandwich Shop. So here's what's great about the trio in the premiere: Jeff asks a question in the episode that I think is important. He wonders aloud how much Greendale can change before it stops being Greendale (meta right there). It's actually really similar to the question Slade asks Oliver in Arrow: how many people can Oliver lose before there is no more Oliver Queen? See, Jeff, Britta, and Annie like control. They like Greendale because it's -- to adopt Jeff's season two phrase -- "their toilet." And the fact of the matter is that if GREENDALE never changes, then they don't have to either. If we've learned anything over the years it's that these individuals hate the idea of changing. (It's a message of "change" that the show preaches but then undoes when it depicts Jeff and Annie and Britta as characters dependent on Greendale for everything.)

Frankie intervenes when Abed gets roped into the speakeasy business and she intervenes because she believes that Abed is too good for the study group -- that he has more to offer than he's allowing himself to. Finally, Frankie quits and I don't blame her because why wouldn't you quit a school that doesn't respect or listen to you? But Frankie is flawed, too, and it's something we learn later. She's brash and kind of pompous and she needs to soften her edges if she will ever be able to build personal, lasting relationships. Still, when Frankie quits, the study group celebrates because they're immature babies who don't realize their actions have consequences. (I say that sort of lovingly.) Jeff sits back in his chair with pride because he finally runs the school. It's chaotic and its messy and it's absolutely wonderful because they've gotten everything they want and they never have to change in order to keep it. They can stay the same forever.

Until they can't. Jeff often doesn't realize that his actions have consequences until they affect the people closest to him. He doesn't enroll in night school until Annie almost gets blown up by a tiny remote controlled car. And in "Ladders," he doesn't realize that he's made a mistake in driving away all of Frankie's advice until a ladder (and professor) fall on Annie and injure her during the Ladders class. Then, Jeff gets serious. Then the entire group gets serious and they realize that they're all to blame for what happened. Then -- and only then -- do they realize that their actions have consequences and they need to change themselves and change the school if they have any hope of being better. Because the message of "Ladders" really is this: change is natural and it's okay. And though it may seem like it won't, changing your environment and your circumstances will ultimately change YOU for the better. That is a message that our characters desperately needed to hear at this point in their journey and it's something that I hope carries them throughout the remainder of the season.

Additional de-lovely aspects about the episode include:
  • The flashback of a young Leonard was SO wonderful and delightful.
  • "We almost killed Fat Neil." "It was Garrett."
  • "Abed's not comfortable with C-H-A-N-G-E."
  • "You have my word as leader of the white people that there is no cause for alarm."
  • Let's take a minute to appreciate the wardrobe department for everything they do, okay? Because I absolutely loved everyone's outfits in this episode.
  • Of course Greendale has a Magical Wand class. Of course.
  • "Who in the crazy bitch?"
  • We actually get to go outside this year? WHAT.
  • TODD. VICKI. NATHAN FILLION.
  • Again: I really appreciate wardrobe putting Joel McHale in a pinstripe suit and a fedora. A+ work, you guys.
  • "You built a bar in a school. There was LUMBER involved."
  • "I hate e-mailing Diane. She can't commit to a font. It's pathological. And so am I." Shout-out to the Jeff/Annie shippers who got a nice scene of Jeff totally and platonically running to Annie when she got hurt and totally and platonically looking really worried with this face.
  • Yvette Nicole Brown's appearance at the end of this episode was completely and utterly delightful. Also I miss her already.

"Lawnmower Maintenance and Postnatal Care"

Okay, let's spend a lot of time discussing Britta Perry. You might not know this, but I really love Britta. And it's kind of weird that in television shows, you're often expected to root for one female character above another: that television fandoms are an either/or when it comes to women. 

You either like Felicity OR Laurel. You either like Caitlin OR Iris. You either like Regina OR Emma. You either like Spencer OR Aria OR Emily OR Hanna. It's weird, to me, that we're very often this way when it comes to female characters -- that we seemingly choose sides -- and yet not at all when it comes to male characters. Or, at least, we're not as overtly like this. It's perfectly acceptable to like multiple male characters equally, but we're often expected to dictate in social media settings, which female character is irrevocably "best." In Community, I've always loved Annie Edison most of all. It's partially because she's got such a rich (not at all explored) backstory. It's partially because she's played by the utterly endearing Alison Brie. It's partially because she's a lot like me: perfectionist, type-A, model student, lover of girly things and dresses and cardigans and Mark Ruffalo. And often times, I'm extremely guilty of favoring Annie Edison over Shirley Bennett and Britta Perry. I apologize, because I shouldn't.

I think the problem for me is that Community hasn't often done a good job of portraying its leading female characters well and equally. Annie has been given a lot of screentime, but a great chunk of it isn't devoted to her developing as a person or maturing. And Shirley? Well, let's not even get started on Shirley's development or lack thereof. But Britta Perry is a character I've always found to be extremely interesting because she changed SO much from the pilot to season five. Somehow, a woman who had begun as a leader -- as someone with ethics and values, who shot Jeff down and protected a group of strangers from him lying to them and hurting them -- turned into the butt of everyone's jokes. She became synonymous with "failure," and the woman I once knew and loved and respected turned into nothing more than a dumbed-down version of the Britta Perry we met in Spanish class. I think that, honestly, that is one of the things that saddened me the most about Community's progression as a series. There were glimmers of hope, of course ("Herstory of Dance" and "Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality" are fantastic Britta-centric episodes that illuminate her character), and I can now add "Lawnmower Maitenance and Postnatal Care" to that list as well.

Though Britta's story is technically the B-story, I'm going to talk about it most because it was the most important. (Here's the one-sentence summary of the A-plot: Jeff and Frankie try to get Dean Pelton to return a $5,000 virtual reality system and when they cannot because he deletes the serial number, Jeff tracks down the source of the game to try and get results.) Britta, meanwhile, is in the process of moving in with Abed and Annie when she has a horrifying realization: her parents have been secretly helping her financially for years and they've been using her friends to do it. Have I mentioned that Britta Perry is a complex character? She is, and Gillian Jacobs has done an absolutely stellar job with whatever the writers throw at her. But I think in the sixth season, I'm desperate to see a more well-rounded and grounded Britta and "Lawnmower Maintenance and Postnatal Care" was the perfect way to do so.

Britta is stubborn and she's extremely prideful. She often rebels just for the sake of rebelling, not really understanding the causes she's fighting for (that's a thread that takes us all the way back to season one). She's often unwavering and can occasionally be calloused. But it's because she's jaded -- she's seen so much bad in the world that in order to protect herself, she defends herself by running away from other people and from her own emotions. In this episode, Jeff pretty much calls her out on that when he delivers an amazing miniature monologue to her, appalled that she would rebel against a really loving family (because Annie and Abed aren't the only ones who have met Mr. and Mrs. Perry, it seems). Here's what's so telling: Jeff is appalled and kind of angry because he had a broken home. He had reason to be the way he was: his father abandoned him. That caused him to grow up with trust and commitment issues. But Britta? Britta, he claims, should be grateful to have parents who loved and supported her. And he can't understand why anyone in their right mind would ever give that up and run away so selfishly.

Now, Jeff doesn't understand the Britta's past, of course, and as it's revealed later on, Britta's parents were not always the model Stepford ones we see in this episode. So as an adult, it's easier for Britta to distance herself entirely from her family than to try and reconcile the image of her unsupportive childhood parents with her perfect, model parents in the present. And she does. Britta places distance between herself and her parents because... that's what she always does. When life gets difficult, she runs in the other direction. She runs from her problems and she runs from her fears. And I love that about Britta because for a woman who is so stoic and confident most of the time, she's really insecure and she's really dependent on others. This episode proves that: Britta NEEDS other people. But she can never admit that she does. And so, the only way her parents are able to love her is by loving her through other people.

Okay, let's all just take a minute to really grasp the weight of that. Good?

I've never loved and appreciated (and understood) Britta more than I did in this episode. As she tries to rebel in horror over what her parents and her friends have done TO her, everyone reminds Britta that what was done? It was done FOR her. When Britta confronts her parents, reminding them of the horrible things they did to her in her childhood (how they had her drug-tested at eleven because she was laughing too much; how they wouldn't let her dress up as Prince for Halloween, etc.), we get to see glimpses of the cracks in Britta's armor. She rebelled against everything they were and now? Now she can't trust who they are because all she remembers when she looks at them is how they treated her back then. And now, her entire adult life is tainted with the knowledge that they still forced their way into her life even when she thought she was free.

Britta ends up in the back of Frankie's car, her life in shambles, unable to really understand who she is as an adult and what she wants. And this is what Frankie tells Britta:
“You know, one of the most unfair lessons that we’re forced to learn, is that our parents are human beings. We want to think of them as gods, or demons because then that would make us heroes, but ugh, gimme a break we all SUCK.”
That is what really resonates with Britta, to be honest. It's so easy for her to villainize her parents in hindsight and in the present. It's easy for her to run away that way, right? If she admitted that her parents were flawed, just like she was, then she would have no reason to flee at all. But for Britta, running away from her problems and running away from her fears and running away from having to work really hard to make her life and her relationships grow and get better was much easier than staying. So she left. (Which is why she and Jeff, romantically, is horrible because they're essentially the same person.) And when she decides to return to her parents' home, it's not to admit that they were right about everything but to admit that she was wrong about something. Because truthfully, her parents MAY be really great in the present but they did totally suck throughout her childhood. But now, instead of treating them like the villains in her story, she chooses to treat them like human beings just as she is: like flawed people who try and succeed sometimes and try and fail other times. Something so wonderful and telling that Britta mentions is in those above GIFs: she acknowledges the fact that when she ran away at seventeen, she thought she was running toward adulthood. But maybe running away doesn't make you an adult. Maybe it just makes you stuck until you choose to run back and face whatever drove you away in the first place.

I absolutely loved this storyline for Britta because it's exactly what she needs at this point in her journey. She needs to stop running away long enough to realize the reason she's doing it. And "Lawnmower Maintenance and Postnatal Care" allowed us to explore an idea that is so utterly central to Community when the show is at its best. It's this idea that we're all flawed and we're all broken and a part of us -- however large or small -- is always running away from something. But what really matters -- what really and truly matters -- and what makes us who we are is what or who we run to.

Additional de-lovely aspects about the episode include:
  • "We mock what we don't understand." "We also mock what's silly."
  • Jim Rash steals every single scene that he is in and he stole this entire episode.
  • "Stop saying 'Jesus wept.'" Also, Joel McHale never gets enough recognition for the work he does on this show because he has literally carried this series for six years and has never been even remotely acknowledged for it.
  • "What's funny? I mean, besides everything."
  • "You're not the new Annie. You're the new Abed."
  • "You don't even eat carbs." "I eat LOVE, Britta."
  • Keith David is absolutely stellar, as you already know, and it feels like he's been a part of this show for ages even though he literally just joined. I approve so much of his casting. I only want the rest of the Enlisted cast to follow him to Greendale. Is that too much to ask for?
  • So we're really committing to the whole Jeff-is-40 thing, are we?
  • "I know what it's like to lie for a living, Elroy. And you should know that it feels better to stop." CHARACTER GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT. ALL THE AWARDS. *prances around throwing confetti*
  • "I'll bite you." "I'll beat you up." "I'll like it."
So what did you all think of Community's return? Was it everything you had hoped it would be? Are you excited for season six? And how do you like Yahoo TV? I'm excited to be back reviewing the show that started it all, and am especially excited that I don't have to do it alone this year. Deborah and I will be switching on and off each week, so be sure to come back next week for her review of 6.03!

Until then, folks. :)

13 comments:

  1. You are right about loving a show but also you can be critical with it too. Doesn't mean you hate the show, it just means you care about it. I would rather care and be angry about a show than have no feeling about a show anymore. You can thank a show for all it's laughs and feelings it gives you but you can also point out it's mistakes and talk about them. I think that is a good thing as it shows you are a true fan and not a mindless buttkisser!


    For the reviews, I really loved them. Brilliant analysis about the 2nd episode as I feel this was one of Gillian's best episodes ever. Her facial expressions were so good in the episode from the look of betrayal she got when she found out about her parents paying for everything in her life, the sadness in her face when talking to Frankie in her car (also the way her voice was cracking. Perfect) and the slight joy in Britta's face as she starts the journey back to reconnecting with her parents after her speech to them. (Which also reminded me a little of a reversal of Jeff's speech to his dad in season 4.) Great Work by Gillian.


    So I just want to say again , love the reviews and can't wait to read Deborah's next week !!!!


    PS I would watch both The Butcher and The Baker and Hard Drive and Wing Man.


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    1. Thanks for the reply, Charles! I would much rather analyze a show and talk about its flaws than pretend a show has none. I'm not so delusional that I believe any show is perfect (okay, Enlisted though... probably the only example) and above reproach. So this year I just expect more from Community because it's been SIX YEARS since we started and after that long, I am desperate for the show to really impress me more than if it was, say, year two or three.

      ANYWAY, thanks for the compliments! I really loved Britta so much in the second episode and I hope she gets some good stories this year. Gillian is so underrated in this show but her facial expressions were hilarious in that episode and it was amazing. Basically, she's awesome.

      I'm so excited to see what Deb has to say next week too!

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  2. Anybody else shipping Abed/Frankie now? lol

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  3. I agree with pretty much everything you said. And I had the same thought about them committing to Jeff being 40, but then someone on Tumblr pointed out how much more easily he said that--and with a smile--than he did in G.I. Jeff, so...character growth? Evidence Jeff has been getting therapy between seasons? Who knows.

    Do you know how much time is supposed to have passed between seasons?

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    1. BETHANY. Wow I'm late in responding to this comment. Ehhhh, I'm just more upset about them changing Jeff's age when he said MULTIPLE TIMES IN PREVIOUS SEASONS how old he was. (Very specifically in "Intro to Political Science" and "Cooperative Familial Relations") So I'm just bitter, still, that the show decided to ret-con that in order to provide "plot" and "conflict" (and also, in my bitter mind, hammer the nail a little further in the Jeff/Annie coffin).

      BUT you are correct: he does say it with less apprehension, etc. than he did the year before. I'm actually not sure how much time supposedly passed between seasons. That's a very good question though. :)

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    2. No worries about the slow reply! Life happens. :-)

      And yes, I will eternally think the age retcon is colossally dumb, given the complete discontinuity. But if they're sticking with it, at least Jeff's coming to terms with it and not freaking out over his mortality? I guess? Sigh.

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  4. I totally support well-thought-out criticism in regards to my favourite shows. That is the only way to get better. I think people can confuse well-meaning objections and concerns with random bashing. Plenty of people make baseless negative comments just to be negative (with no intention of thinking or reviewing their position), especially on the internet. But well-argued criticism (that deals with plot and character rather than actors or producers) is a very important part of life and art. And that is drastically different from being a "hater" who spouts bile just for the sake of it. You always explain your thought processes and back up your arguments and, most importantly, you are willing to listen to and discuss the thoughts of those who disagree with you. Any show is lucky to have fans like that. So bring it on!

    To be honest, I was bracing myself for something kinda painful when this season started. I am not a big fan of change either (is anyone really?) so I just don't like it that Troy and Shirley are not there. I was braced to dislike Frankie a little too but she won me over pretty quick. She has her flaws and I like that she claims to be somewhat boring (and a bit of a caretaker) cause I relate to that. I loved that she and Abed bonded so well and I like how he stuck up for her even in the face of his friends' deep dislike. (And they accuse Abed of not reacting to change well. ha) I've always noticed how Abed sticks up for what he believes is right, even when his friends are pressuring him to do otherwise, one of the things I love about him. So welcome Frankie and I look forward to what you add to this show.

    I agree that Chang feels a little oddly placed even though the character has been used really well in the past. Are they trying to position him to be a bit like Pierce, part of the group but also not well liked and challenging? I must say I did enjoy the whole sequence of him lying on the ground calmly explaining how Britta's cat was injuring him.

    I was so glad to hear some more about Britta's back-story and meet her parents (I love Lesley Ann Warren!) It fleshed her out so much and helped pull together so many of her character traits. No one knew her parents back then but her so it can be easy to seem like she is over-reacting. However, would any of us like to be judged on how we were 10 or 20 years ago? Especially when one has made significant growth (as her parents seem to have done) it can be so painful when someone from the past insists that we be punished for how we used to be.

    My favourite line from Britta was: "I have a right to hate them because I had to be there when they sucked." Wow! Isn't that just so right on about human nature? We want to feel entitled to our hatreds, like we earned them, and we don't want to let them go even if it is time to do so. Maybe her parents don't suck now but Britta wants to hold on to her anger, she claims it as her right. How is anyone supposed to grow like that, holding on to old anger, forcibly reminding others how much they sucked in the past? It is so unhealthy but so awesome that she states it out loud and comes to a realization of what she is doing. Britta for the win! I was so proud of her.

    That is what I want from this season (from any season of any show really): fleshed out humans, insights into what makes us all tick, and the opportunity to feel proud of characters that I've come to love. Fingers crossed that this can happen.

    Other little things:

    -I love that they have Leonard, Garrett, Todd, Vicki etc still around, still being hilarious.

    - Nathan Fillion! He was the best thing about last season.

    - "No where else but my car? Do you know how big the planet is?" I hope Frankie doesn't get used to all the craziness and can still call people on their crap rather than being totally sucked in. And then she says "What can I do to help you tonight, Britta?" How awesome is that?

    - Love the little fake show adverts too. I'd watch those.

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    1. BECCA. First off, you have amazing taste in TV because I love that we love the same shows! And thank you for your compliment. With Community, I'm bitter but I'm also hopeful and I really hope that this comes across, you know? Like, I don't want the show to fail and I want it to become a better version of itself. So thank you for letting me know I'm on the right path, haha.

      Chang just feels like an afterthought this season. Dean Pelton is such a better minor character comedy-wise and story-wise because he serves a purpose. With Chang, it kind of feels like they don't exactly know who he is or what he should be yet. With the addition of Elroy to the study group, I think he'll fill the Pierce void so I'm wondering how, exactly, Chang will factor into the group. As long as there's no more Changnesia... ugh.

      I loved the whole story with Britta and her parents and this: However, would any of us like to be judged on how we were 10 or 20 years ago? Especially when one has made significant growth (as her parents seem to have done) it can be so painful when someone from the past insists that we be punished for how we used to be. is just SO accurate and wonderful. I think Britta is always hesitant to give people second chances and extend forgiveness once her trust is lost (part of her hardened and jaded personality), so I love that she was able to do that with her parents and see them as people.

      I truly want this season, as you said, to flesh out the characters more. I want to understand their quirks better and I want us to get to a place of growth with them. And I also want them to stop relying on Greendale for everything but I don't know if THAT will happen.

      NATHAN FILLION. I will always approve of Nathan Fillion on this show. Especially if he's interacting with Joel McHale. (And not just because I'll forever campaign for a 3 Men And A Baby remake with the two of them and Adam Scott...)

      Thanks again for your comments, Becca! :D

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    2. I absolutely LOVE the idea of those three doing 3 Men and A Baby. If you have a campaign to join I officially sign up. That would be freaking hilarious. I imagine Tom Selleck=Nathan Fillion, Ted Danson = Joel McHale, and Steve Guttenburg = Adam Scott? Bring it on! (Although the dear departed Leonard Nemoy cannot direct it for us.)

      Okay, now I have to go get my thoughts in order to respond to your excellent Arrow article. This could take awhile :)

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    3. I seriously need to launch this campaign. My friend Laura and I re-watched the original on Netflix ages ago and were like: "We could totally write this." We flipped Selleck and Danson for Nathan and Joel (JOEL GETS TYPECAST AS THE SELFISH JERK SO MUCH THAT I NEED TO CHANGE IT, HAHA. Plus, how AMAZING would it be to see Nathan Fillion play a self-absorbed actor? Like... it would be Captain Hammer, but toned down just a notch).

      GOOD LUCK ON THE ARROW PIECE. This one is super duper long but I can't wait for your comments! :D

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    4. I could totally see Fillion playing that role to the hilt and it would be hilarious to see him react to having a kid. I guess I equate him to Selleck simply because they both have great hair ;)

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  5. Hi - new commenter here. Just to introduce myself and add a bit of context, but unlike most of the others around I’m not a long term fan of Community - I’m British, and it was never picked up by a channel over here, which meant I had to wait for it to be picked up by Amazon Prime. Which means that over the last four weeks or so I’ve managed to watch the first five seasons (at about four episodes a day…). I finally finished season five on Thursday, which means I’ll be watching season six at the same pace as everyone else (Six actually has been picked up by a network - granted, a satellite one with a number in the hundreds…). I discovered this blog about halfway through season three (via a link on TvTropes) and even since then by ritual for watching Community has involved watching an episode and then coming here to read Jen’s beautifully written and highly detailed reviews - they really do add to the experience of watching the show.

    Anyway - season six. Is it just me, or did this feel like a welcome return to form? Some good points that really struck me -

    There were more honest-to-goodness laugh out loud moments than I can recall for a long time (not a trivial point for a sitcom).
    Abed finally seems to be coming into his own as a character in his right and not just as half of a double act with Troy.
    Britta - wonderful to see some emotional depth from a character who has spent far too long as the butt of so many jokes.
    Frankie - could so easily have been a cypher of a corporate enforcer type but is showing signs of real depth and human warmth.

    Some not so good points -
    Hickey - he was one of my favorite things about season five, so sad he doesn’t seem to be back.
    Jeff & Annie - oh dear. It’s early days yet, but they have barely had a single scene together. It’s almost as though the writers seem to have decided to deal with the “problem” the amazing chemistry between Joel and Alison gives them in their belief (which almost nobody else seems to share) that nothing should happen between them by simply not writing any scenes where the actors interact. This is a huge pity, as (IMHO at least) the strongest episodes of the show have been those where Joel and Alison get to interact.

    There are other things of course, but that’ll do for now. Thanks for reading...

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    Replies
    1. Hi Richard: First of all, apologies for my lateness in commenting. I try to answer comments when I see them but sometimes they slip into the vast, giant web of my email, haha. Secondly, WELCOME! I'm so glad you found this site and am glad that you discovered Community as well! And thank you so much for your kind comments on the reviews. As Shirley would say: "That's nice." :)

      I do feel like the first few episodes were a return to the old days, where the show cared more about characters than crazy homages. I honestly and personally haven't found this season to be laugh-out-loud funny (I think a lot of that died with Donald Glover who had some of the best deliveries on the series/consistently hilarious moments), but Keith David is really elevating that for me.

      I really loved Frankie in the premiere and 6.02. She gets more fleshed out, too, in 6.03 and seems to -- as Alan Sepinwall noted, I think -- provide a sort of balance between Jeff and Annie. She's cynical but also optimistic. She's the middlewoman, essentially.

      I'm not actually missing Hickey. If I had to choose him over Keith David's Elroy, I would totally choose Keith David, haha. I do think that Hickey brought something good to the group but I'm not missing him in his absence. Oh, the Jeff/Annie of it all will always be something I complain about endlessly. If you haven't watched 6.03, it may frustrate you even more.

      Harmon's MO is to drop something on his audience and then pretend it never happened. He's spent six years wasting the chemistry between these two on moments that are cute and sweet and wonderful but never GO anywhere. It's more than just bad writing -- it's dishonest to the characters at this point. You're telling me that in five years since they really kissed that their chemistry wouldn't have caused them to do SOMETHING again? Plus, both characters have such rich backstories that a relationship -- or even, at this point, like... an acknowledgement of how they feel from each other -- would be compelling, not a death sentence as Harmon seems to think. IMO, NOT doing anything and baiting shippers has been the death sentence for his show in that department.

      (As you might tell, I have a LOT of feelings about that particular subject, haha.)

      But thank you again so much for commenting! Hope to see you around here this season as Deb and I alternate reviews. :)

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