Posts Tagged ‘ Ken Jeong ’

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.

Six seasons and a movie!


“All stories are about death and resurrection.” These wise words from Abed Nadir in the season 2 episode ‘Messianic Myths And Ancient Peoples’ have become all too true for all of ‘Community’ itself. As have the words “six seasons and a movie”. About two months ago, NBC announced the cancellation of ‘Community’. Unsurprisingly to many, because the series seemed to be on the brink of extinction throughout its existence. Why is beyond me, because it is still the most intelligent and just simply funny show on television. Ever.

Which is why the news that reached us at the beginning of the week was the best news I’ve heard in a long time. Yahoo! announced that it would be streaming the 13 episodes of season 6 on Yahoo! Screen. Honesty forces me to say that I’m not familiar with the medium, but any medium giving ‘Community’ room to air – even NBC, with its dubious position when it comes to their greatest comedies – is a good one in my book. Sony Pictures deserves a lot of credit for not giving up on the show either. Both media probably know that they should give Dan Harmon and his crew room to be as creative or crazy as they like. It’s what got the show its hardcore fans, such as yours truly.

Harmon promised us around the time the cancellation was announced that a sixth season would also mean the movie from the earlier quote would be made. That has also piqued by interest. Especially because season 5, despite being hilarious and warmly true to the show’s premise, prove that the series may have outgrown the TV format. The enormous escapades as seen in ‘Geothermal Escapism’ and the heartwarming – as I’m a fan of the literary genre – dystopia tribute ‘App Development And Condiments’ were almost limited by the 22 minute restriction. It would be interesting to see how a 90+ minute feature film would turn out if Harmon could get someone like Justin Lin, who directed the first paintball episode ‘Modern Warfare’, to direct it.

The main cast of Joel McHale (as Jeff Winger), Danny Pudi (as Abed Nadir, TV’s most brilliant character ever, thanks in part to Pudy’s incredible portrayal), Yvette Nicole Brown (as Shirley Bennett, who has been somewhat underused lately) and the gorgeous Alison Brie (as Annie Edison) and Gillian Jacobs (as Britta Perry)¬† has already been confirmed to be on board for season 6. If I interpret the credits correctly, that means Jim Rash (as Dean Craig Pelton) and Ken Jeong (as Benjamin Chang) will also be a part of season 6. This is a good thing, because these people have proven they are funny, but also able to carry the gravitas to deliver acting-wise. I also hope Jonathan Banks will be able to reprise his role as criminology teacher Buzz Hickey, as he was a fantastic addition to the show. An extension of Jon Oliver’s return as psychology professor would be pleasant as well.

More hopes and wishes I will not have. Because if history has proven us one thing, it’s that anything that Dan Harmon and his crew come up with is good. The vast majority of it is even pure comedic genius. Through this way, I just want to thank everyone involved for the sixth season that this show deserves. Despite breaking all the rules of TV logic. Or maybe even¬†because of that.