Community: The Complete Second Season

Community: The Complete Second Season
When it first began, NBC's Community proved to be a sharp, quickly paced, character-driven comedy that was enjoyable, though not exceptional. Set in a community college, Community was rarely given the opportunity to break new ground. That is until midway through the first season, when the show found its tone with the episode "Modern Warfare," which interjected action movie genre conventions into a school paintball game. Season two continues that trend of genre riffing, pushing even further in that direction and taking more risks. What keeps the show moving, and grounds the more outlandish episodes, are the characters, wonderfully portrayed by a range of comic actors, from The Soup's Joel McHale to Mad Men's Alison Brie, and of course, Snow Day's Chevy Chase. The highlights of the cast are Danny Pudi's Abed and Donald Glover's Troy, best friends, whose closing credit sequences are fantastic. The second season also has an array of nerd-friendly guest stars, including Josh Holloway (Sawyer from Lost) and Levar Burton (from Star Trek: TNG and Reading Rainbow). Even when the show gets as wacky as, say, the Halloween episode, which finds the gang fighting zombies, the humour is almost entirely character-based. What makes Community wonderful is it never parodies genres; it places the characters within a set of tropes and the jokes come out of their interactions with one another. In addition to the aforementioned zombie episode, we get a conspiracy theory episode, a My Dinner with Andre episode, a self-reflexive "bottle episode," in which the characters are all confined to the library for the course of the show, a claymation episode for Christmas and a sequel to the first season's paintball episode, only this time it's a Sergio Leone-style spaghetti western. Not all the episodes have some kind of hook; the best and most affecting episode is "Mixology Certification 101," in which the gang takes Troy to a bar for his 21st birthday. The show is great at taking risks, but it has created strong enough characters to comfortably leave them to their own devices. Community is the funniest, most aggressively creative show on TV today. A plethora of special features include commentary on every single episode, interviews with the cast, a featurette on the making of the new paintball episode, deleted scenes and outtakes, which are worth watching just to see how much of a dick Chevy Chase can be. (Sony)