Community 1x2 - Spanish 101
There is a statement I keep hearing (particularly in regards to the controversial 4th season) that Community took a while to actually become good. As I point out in my look at the pilot episode (http://mondofilmaday.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/what-is-community-college.html) I found Community to be incredibly strong right out the gate. Yes, I believe it got better as it got a firmer grip on the characters and more time to explore them and their surroundings but the foundation was remarkably solid as demonstrated in the second time out.
This episode starts to flesh out Britta more fully and lays down details that would become more important as the series went on (her slightly condescending but genuine concern for Abed gives a nod towards the role she would take on as group analyst). But it works on a deeper level than just character setting, I think most people are inherently good (Community would come to look at this issue in an outstanding half hour before too long) but I worry constantly about my laziness and complacency without ever really doing anything about it. Community biggest strength is that at any given moment I identify with any of the main characters who seem to express concerns and exhibit foibles I myself suffer from. This episode looks at that well meaning lefty leaning individual who cares deeply about things but finds it hard to connect beyond the surface level and actually do anything about it. And is of course damn funny doing so.
The other characters are not neglected either. We see the beginnings of the Troy/Abed platonic romance, and the easy, pleasing chemistry between the two. It doesn't go much beyond this yet, Abed is still mostly there to make 'meta' references but even that is in service of who he is as a person (again expressing a difficulty with relating to the 'real' world). Troy hasn't much of a personality yet beyond being a little dim perhaps (this would get exaggerated as time went on) but Donald Glover makes every line reading golden and the Spanish rap at the end is one of those things that wouldn't work at all if it wasn't for the talent and timing of the actors. Annie and Shirley serve as counter-point to Britta, actually doing something about the cause she pays (tape covered) lip service to and again establish a nice chemistry (that wouldn't get used as much) and show what a strong interesting cast the show has gathered.
The other major pairing is Jeff and Pierce who get the piece de resistance in a outrageously funny spoof of inspirational montages and again this is used to not just deliver a punchline (though it's a great one) but to highlight character beats. Jeff is a selfish douche but being around these people is already changing him for the better. Pierce serves as a warning to Jeff as to what he could become which also fuels Pierces neediness as he tries to force father/son bond between the two, seeing perhaps a younger version of himself (or at least what he imagined the younger version of himself to be).
We also get an introduction to the remaining regular on the show - Senor Chang, who would prove a little marmite as time went on (or judging by forums at the time even for this episode). Ken Jeong is nothing but hilarious here and the seeds of what would happen to his character are already being sown (check the flags on the back of the cards the Spanish class are given). And even his fairly one note character presents a deeper (though not exactly subtle as it is explicitly stated by said character) reading, the idea of disconnect and representing through stereotype. The joke of him being an Asian Spanish teacher works because none of the class seemed as fussed by it as he does.
So two episodes in and Community was cementing itself as a show to watch. Next week would give more shading to Abed, a character I came to connect to in a way a teevee show has never done before.
- 'cos you guys usually spend the first twenty minutes talking about your interesting personal lives and your cool emotional problems
- My knowledge will bit her face off!
- Come on - hands! 90% of Spanish.
- To the empowerage of words.
- That dude is crazy - he told me that girls have two pee holes
- F, F minus.
- We can have a candlelight vigil like lesbians have on the news.
- What we have so far. Well, we have something incredibly long and very confusing and a little homophobic and really, really specifically, surprisingly and gratuitously critical of Israel. It's called ‘Two Conquistadors’. It should probably be ‘Dos’; I mean it is a Spanish class.