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TV Reviews

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Cast
Joel McHale as Jeff Winger; Gillian Jacobs as Britta Perry; Danny Pudi as Abed Nadir; Yvette Nicole Brown as Shirley Bennett; Alison Brie as Annie Edison; Donald Glover as Troy Barnes; Chevy Chase as Pierce Hawthorne; Ken Jeong as Señor Chang; Jim Rash as Dean Pelton
Channel
NBC
Reviewer
Paul Asay
Community

Community

There's Princeton. There's Stanford. And then there's Greendale Community College.

Greendale, located in sunny, scenic, fictional Greendale, Colo., has all the educational opportunities you'd find in an elite Eastern Seaboard or hip West Coast school. Except for the Nobel Laureate professors, of course. Or the top-notch curriculum. Or the stimulating learning environment.

OK. Now that I'm thinking straight, Greendale may have fallen a little behind some of its hoity-toity competitors. But it does boast something they lack: air conditioning!

Oh, wait, Ivy League schools have that too. Bummer. Hold on, let me peruse the pamphlet for a minute …

Well, here's something you certainly won't find at Brown or Cornell: A wacky, wisecracking and highly photogenic study group that, for some reason, is composed of folks who've all attended this community college for five years! Can't beat that for student satisfaction: Lots of Ivy Leaguers leave with diplomas after just four. Take that, Dartmouth!

Here's who's in the in-crowd: Jeff, a former hot-shot lawyer who decided to go back to school after his elite firm discovered he never earned a bachelor's degree. Pretty and blond, Britta served in the Peace Corps for years before opting to grab her GED and now aspires to finally pocket a college degree. Troy was once Greendale's high school football star, and he's looking for new opportunities now that he's done throwing the pigskin. Annie, another local product, hopes to transfer to an Ivy League school (though we don't know why she'd want to). Shirley's enrolled in some business courses so she can start her own company. Abed's the resident pop-culture fiend. And no one can forget the cross-dressing dean Craig Pelton, or the perpetually unhinged teacher Ben Chang, or intimidating criminology professor Buzz Hickey (replacing Chevy Chase's Pierce Hawthorne in Community's fifth and final season).

Abed's not the only one who cares deeply about the last 50 years' worth of screen-centric circumstances. Giggling and grungy group meetings are chockablock with pop-culture references, from Lethal Weapon to Cheers to Lady Gaga. Sometimes they turn into puppets or Claymation doppelgängers of themselves. And sometimes these wacky kids (and kids-at-heart) spend the equivalent of a 30-minute sitcom episode satirizing a single film or television genre. It's as if they've never done anything in their entire lives but watch TV. And that makes them a perfect fit, really, for the higher education environs of Greendale, where the motto is "You're Already Accepted."

Underneath their in-the-know banter, it's clear the folks in this study group are an accepting lot. They kinda care about one another—in a snarky, passive-aggressive way. But they're also committed to making good on their once-in-a-lifetime college "experience," which means they talk about and participate in sex and drinking far more than class assignments—except when the class assignment is drinking.

See? Just like Harvard and Yale.

Episode Reviews

"Advanced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons"

In Season Two, Community aired one of its most beloved episodes, titled "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons." Now, despite Abed's meta-comment that "a successful sequel is difficult to pull off," the gang dives into the roleplaying game once again, hoping to remove the "strange" from the estranged relationship between Buzz and his son. The two fight and bicker throughout the game but finally begin to work together … a little (while still bickering). Jeff says they can't stand the sight of each other, but don't like being apart. "And that's the best most fathers and sons can do," he says by way of the episode's moral.

For the game, characters are given suggestive names such as "Tiny Nuggets," "Hector the Well-Endowed" and "Dingleberry." Their quest is to defeat an evil necromancer, whom Buzz mistakenly calls a "necrophile." They fight and "kill" one another, along with many imaginary creatures. One player impales another on his imaginary sword. Flying spiders are said to have a "complex religion." Shirley crosses herself when she realizes she's playing a druid. They say "d‑‑n" and "h‑‑‑" (twice each) and "b‑‑ch" (once). God's name is misused a couple of times.

"Alternative History of the German Invasion"

A new history teacher (Malcolm McDowell) asks his students to write a paper exploring history not from the victors' point of view, but through the eyes of the vanquished. Commence ironic social standoffs between "the gang" and some German exchange students. The Germans are at one point tricked into partaking in a fake Oktoberfest … and Dean Pelton informs them that it's against school rules for any student to celebrate his own cultural heritage—though celebrating another group's heritage is encouraged. "That's why I keep a detailed list of everyone's race and nationality—to prevent racism and nationalism," he says.

Dean Pelton dresses in a revealing nurse's outfit and tells his assistant to store away his Carmen Miranda getup. Jeff is dressed up as a female figure skater. The history prof confesses to a "slip-up" with a co-ed. Several double entendres reference male anatomy. Pierce is violently shocked by a fluorescent light fixture. Several people fall off broken chairs. A dead raccoon is removed from a vent.

Loads of jokes and jabs (verbal and visual) target Germans, Jews and the Holocaust. Students sip beer and say "b‑‑tard," "b‑‑ch" and "d‑‑n" once or twice each. God's name is misused a handful of times.

"Competitive Wine Tasting"

It's elective season at Greendale, so Jeff and Pierce enroll in "Italian Wine Tasting," where Pierce falls for a much younger woman. The two quickly get engaged. Pierce, who mentions he found the "right woman" seven times before, hopes his latest wife will satisfy him "like an insatiable baboon." A classmate says he likes the course because it has "drunk ladies, fancy bathrooms and a room full of free coats." Meanwhile, Britta and Troy attend acting class, where Troy—needing to summon a painful memory—lies about being molested as a boy. He later confesses, and when the class seems disappointed he wasn't molested, he says, "I know, I'm bummed about it too."

Other jokes center on prostitution, threesomes, condoms, sexual organs, incest, homosexuality, racism, incontinence and Pierce's "special cellar" with swings and saddles. Students drink wine and other forms of alcohol, and a professor asks his class to drink cognac in the bathtub for "homework." A reference is made to huffing paint. Women are ogled. Just for "fun," a scene makes it look as though a distraught professor may be about to commit suicide.

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