Posts Tagged ‘ comedy ’

Sixth season. When’s the movie?

After months of waiting – I couldn’t get Yahoo! Screen to run properly due to region issues, then it went out of business and the DVD release got postponed more than once – I finally had the chance to see the sixth and final season of ‘Community’, my favorite television series ever. And though I initially had some concerns, most prominently the departure of Yvette Nicole Brown (who played Shirley Bennett) and Donald Glover (who played Troy Barnes), I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. It certainly is different from the first three seasons, but the thirteen episodes displayed all the quirks and intelligent sitcom writing I’ve come to love about the show.

What does jump out is that the different medium allows for a different pacing. Because the writers weren’t confined to the network mandated 22 minute limit, they could branch out a little in this season, though never over half an hour. That may seem a little off-putting at first, because the delivery isn’t quite as rapid-fire as it used to be, but once you get used to it, the extra breathing room actually enhances the emotional weight of the acting. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s a bigger emphasis on the drama, but it doesn’t exactly hurt it either. And due to the season’s highly conceptual nature, I feel the extra time was needed. Some of the season 5 episodes with the same tendency (‘Geothermal Escapism’ most prominently) suffered from the time limitations.

One of the revelations of this season is the addition of Paget Brewster as the consultant Francesca ‘Frankie’ Dart. I must admit that I’ve been a bit of a fan of Brewster since her guest role in ‘Friends’ and this character is more proof of why she’s great for any sitcom: she has a dramatic gravitas without letting her comedic talents suffer from that. Perfect for a character who functions as sort of a voice of reason. Albeit flawed, because we are dealing with Greendale Community College here. In fact, Frankie’s struggle to adapt to the cast’s ongoing insanity is the source for a majority of this season’s comedy, although Ken Jeong’s surprisingly restrained and heartfelt performance as Ben Chang isn’t far behind.

Keith David, the other “new kid” who plays Elroy Patashnik, has a bit of a weird dynamic with the rest of the main cast. David is a class act for sure, but you could see that the writers were a little too committed to making him a substitute for both Troy Barnes and Pierce Hawthorne (portrayed by Chevy Chase, who left the fold quite some time ago) to play to his strengths. Him being the only African-American actor on the main cast does offer a proper canvas for Greendale’s hilarious political hypercorrectness – which consistently borders on racism, of course – but I feel David’s character doesn’t quite get the development it deserves. Then again, there are some moments that suggests he was meant to be sort of a shielded personality and I love David’s acting.

It’s quite obvious that the crew decided to go all-out one more time now that they were working with more creative freedom than ever. The end tags are really something else this time around, often litterally. ‘Grifting 101’, which features large portions of Matt Berry (‘The IT Crowd’) just the way we love him, is an even weirder brother to the brilliant season 2 episode ‘Conspiracy Theories And Interior Design’ and as such would have been too bizarre for network television. In a similar way, I think ‘Modern Espionage’ would have at least suffered the pressure to emphasize the paintball element more. ‘Laws Of Robotics And Party Rights’ features some laugh-out-loud silliness that shouldn’t work, but does. All combined with the heart that is so important ‘Community’. In a way, that combination makes this season a little thank you gift to all the fans that have stuck by the show’s side for six seasons.

Naturally, we can’t discuss a final season without talking about the finale (‘Emotional Consequences Of Broadcast Television’) and I can only say it is exactly what we could have asked for. It’s funny, the season 5 finale failed at its attempt to translate the general wonder what the story would be if there’s no more story, but it’s exactly that sentiment that is played out so perfectly this time around. With a short guest spot for a surprisingly slender Yvette Nicole Brown to make it feel more complete. It’s a very wordy episode with very little gags or jokes, but it’s perfect. I can see why the big Winger speech, this time delivered by Abed Nadir (as always expertly played by Danny Pudi) made the cast cry and seeing Jeff Winger (synonymous with Joel McHale’s development as an actor) actually care deeply about anything is the perfect way to round the story out. It’s a tearjerker for sure, but not as depressing as you might expect.

Ultimately, season six is directed at hardcore ‘Community’ fans obviously and those of you who are – including yours truly – will enjoy it immensely. A few episodes fall flat – I’m not too fond of ‘Intro To Recycled Cinema’ and ‘Wedding Videography’ is decent, but the concept has been done better before – but all in all, it’s a great season to round out what I consider the most brilliant show ever to have appeared on television. Now all we need is that movie that the series promised us. In fact, it does it again at the end of the finale. Please, Dan Harmon, if you won’t do it, I will, and we all know no one would want that.

Jon Voyage!

After watching Jon Stewart’s last appearance as the host of ‘The Daily Show’, I felt the need to share a few thoughts to add to the long list of shared thoughts that plague the Internet already. That seems a little excessive, but Jon Stewart’s show was such an important part of the Kevy Metal household, that it truly is the end of an era to me. And as much as his crew – both on- and offscreen – deserves all the credit they can get, it was Stewart’s charming, witty and sometimes shamelessly nerdy personality that made him a welcome addition to our living room for years. Sometimes it even felt like he was right there with us. An impressive feat that isn’t given to every show host.

My parents and I started watching every episode of ‘The Daily Show’ as soon as we had a TV channel that aired the program. I can’t exactly pinpoint the date we started watching, but judging from the many compilations that were featured in the show in these last few weeks, it must have been about six years ago. Stewart was a breath of fresh air for us. Not only was his delivery in terms of humor fantastic, he also had a surprisingly universal approach when compared to the America-centered worldview of most American anchors. His sincere interest in all things Middle East hardly has any competition worldwide.

What is more important, however, is the function that ‘The Daily Show’ has had as a springboard for young, talented comedians. Despite joining the show prior, Stephen Colbert is commonly seen as a protégé of Stewart, with Colbert even mentioning him as the reason he started moving into political satire. ‘The Daily Show’ was also responsible for getting John Oliver to the United States and therefore granting him the stage that later enabled him to start ‘Last Week Tonight’ about a decade later – a show that might equal, possibly even surpass the quality of ‘The Daily Show’ these days.

For me, it was the show that introduced me to a number of fantastic comedians. Sometimes these were younger talents that got their chance to shine to a sizeable audience through the program (the brilliant Wyatt Cenac, the downright crazy Kristen Schaal) and sometimes, I was introduced to a comedy veteran for whom ‘The Daily Show’ just happened to be the medium that introduced me to their work; most prominently Lewis Black, who remains one of my favorite comedians to this day. I’m not sure how much emphasis there is on comedic acting among cast and crew, but people like Jason Jones and Aasif Mandvi have grown to full-blown comedy actors throughout the history of the show.

Let’s not forget the interviews. Some of the best interviews were the ones that had nothing to do with whatever the guest was promoting – Ricky Gervais’ monologue about raccoons having sex with panda’s springs to mind. Occasionally, a genuinely interesting interview popped up. It was through ‘The Daily Show’ that I was introduced to Ramita Navai’s amazing book ‘City Of Lies’. It actually went so far that my mother begged the show to stop promoting interesting books; it was quite an assault on our bank accounts at some point. Stewart’s political interest made people like Barack Obama show a bit of their true selves and sometimes set to “unmask” people in a different way, like his on-screen frustration opposite journalist Judith Miller about her role in the Iraq war by publishing faulty information.

Now that this icon has quit the show, all we can hope for that his replacement Trevor Noah will get an honest chance to prove himself. To be honest, I wasn’t particularly impressed by his few appearances on the show, but it was his performance on BBC’s ‘Live At The Apollo’ about his experiences as a child of a mixed race parents in South Africa that convinced me that he is able to at least put on a good and credible satire show. And as long as he’s got the current team of correspondents – Hasan Minhaj, the silly genius of Jordan Klepper and the perfect combination of beauty, brains and humor that is Jessica Williams – we can be sure that the legacy of the show will be safe.

Of course things won’t be the same again. The second most important man in our living room – second only after my father – won’t appear quite as often anymore. Jon Voyage!