Posts Tagged ‘ Greendale Community College ’

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.