NBC’s Community remains one of my favorite shows on TV. However, I can’t say I was completely shocked when it wasn’t included on the mid-season schedule. Community is a solid show, but it needs a change.
First, the good stuff. Remedial Chaos Theory is the best episode of Community…ever. It’s probably one of the best shows ever generated by a sitcom. I literally spent the week rewatching it multiple times a day. If that episode doesn’t win an emmy for writing, then then the system is broken.
The episode combines everything that’s great about Community and everything that’s great about TV in one package. It’s dense with humor and deeper meaning. It stands alone, but it builds off the established characters well. It advances the season plot. It delivers a message about chaos and humanity. I could go on.
Unfortunately, season three has seen a shift in the series dynamic that’s stalled some of the positive running elements that have endeared the show to its viewers. All seven major characters have had their chance to shine this year, but one has been hung out to dry. The character missing most is Greendale.
Think about all of the rules out there. Don’t say gay. Don’t say retard. Don’t say midget. Recycle. Don’t ask. Don’t tell. Assume. Don’t assume. Just know. Our streets are paved with eggshells.
Greendale Community College is the perfect vehicle for satirizing that. It’s an environment where every rule and list for coexisting peacefully that has been handed down by thousands of committees have collided. Can anything actually be accomplished when hands are tied by so much political correctness? I don’t know. But I do know the AC Annex brings in the money.
Where are the dances, the fairs, the announcements, the blow-off classes, the regular classes, the tests? All our group has done this year is make a diorama.
With season three, most of our time has been spent breaking each character down individually. The season opener was about Jeff. The model UN was about Annie. The horror stories were about Britta. Advanced Gay was about Pierce. And so on. A lot has worked. Some things haven’t.
The biggest disappointment this year has been Chang. Ken Jeong is fantastic, but Chang has become a caricature instead of a character. He was great in season one because the students feared him. His power made his insanity much more fearsome. His destruction in season two was a great ride to follow, but it left his ability to contribute to the show diminished. Once everyone began dismissing him so easily it made his insanity an easy non-sequitur.
Let me provide an example. Suppose you have an angry boss. Everyone just stays out of his way. No one wants to get fired, etc. Then one day he pokes his head in your office and says Wabbajack. Everyone laughs. WTF? The big, mean guy said something insane. Now suppose he does that every day. Eventually, you’ll just tune him out altogether. Unless, of course, he starts calling a meeting everyday just to say Wabbajack to the group. Then you start to get annoyed that you’re forced to revisit the same thing everyday.
That’s the point I hit with Chang this season. He has no relevance to the show, so being forced to sit through an entire subplot devoted to him (the film noir bit) was excruciating.
Chang can be great again, but he needs something more than an empty post as a security guard. He needs a real ability to affect the lives of the group.
In many ways, every episode this season has felt like a bottle episode. And while I’ve enjoyed much this year, I haven’t felt a sense of real plot progression either. I don’t need black smoke or a series of numbers, but it would be nice to see things change a bit more.