Community Season Three

Community Season Three
"Our worst episodes are better than everything else on TV." Co-creator Dan Harmon's assertion during the commentary for "Origins of Vampire Mythology" isn't wrong, especially when holding the exceedingly witty show up to other network comedies. Regularly featuring a higher per capita density of cutting insight, referential oddball humour and ambitious satire than its funniest competitors (30 Rock, Parks and Recreation) can muster in peak form, Community is peerless. Season three picks up after the conclusion of last year's "Paintball" saga, with Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) trying to prevent Pierce (Chevy Chase) from re-joining the study group. Pierce's antagonistic presence is vital to the group's volatile chemistry, so it doesn't take long from him to worm his way back in, though his sociopathic tendencies continue to position him as a perpetual outsider. Cynically commenting on the impotence of good intentions when disconnected from pragmatic action, Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) is reminded of his ineffectuality by the over-dramatic and comically threatening Vice Dean Laybourne (John Goodman), who runs the heavily funded cult of the air conditioner repair program, which secretly controls the school. Laybourne's interest in Troy (Donald Glover) provides the thrust for this year's overarching plot, insidiously seeding the naïve former jock with doubts about his relationship dynamic with Abed (the chameleonic Dani Pudi), who can only relate to the world through pop-culture filters. Each episode is still structured as a specific satire by-way-of stylistic parody, which is a big part of what makes this show so unique, if a little impenetrable to viewers only passively immersed in TV and movie culture. After returning from a mid-season yank amidst ratings and budget issues, the zany pack of psychologically disturbed Greendale Community College students are put into smart, thrifty situations that convert limitations into strengths, as strongly demonstrated by the brilliant mock war documentary, "Pillows and Blankets." The mock war doc gets a mock doc of its own, extending the show's clever meta-commentary to the bonus content. A Glee-lampooning Christmas musical gets receives a less deliberate behind-the-scenes feature and there's a healthy selection of often-funny deleted scenes (though it's usually pretty clear why each scene was cut), but it's the utterly madcap and uncensored "Outtakes" included on each disc that take this DVD collection to another level. Alison Brie, who plays the reserved, anal-retentive Annie, leads the way with wacky mugging, free-style rapping and casual crudeness, but none of the cast members are shy about juggling imaginary dicks or dropping F-bombs. That extends to the commentary tracks, of which there is one for every single episode. Brie's presence encourages the most hysterical filth and silliness, but even commentary from the other principal cast (excluding Glover and Chase), guest stars and various staff writers tends to be both uncommonly honest and entertaining. It's those same qualities that continue to make Community one of the best things ever to happen to network television. (Sony)