Posts tagged ‘Community’

Wonder Crash



I just got back from Anaheim last night, where I spent the weekend experiencing all of the excitement and joy that Wonder Con could cram into the convention center, while still accommodating the young female cheerleaders and volleyball players that had many of my friends and I concerned that some creeper nerd would cause an unfortunate incident. Other than that unfortunate coordinating decision and a few conflicting events of interest I would have to say my experience at Wonder Con this year was utterly amazing.


I had the chance to attend multiple panels discussing writing for television, as well as panels for Once Upon a Time (a show I’ve already discussed here, though will probably discuss again soon because that show is…sure something), Community (oddly enough, another show I’ve already written about), Adventure Time and even a brief panel about the upcoming film Prometheus, which will probably outdo sliced bread in terms of greatness. I also had the chance to meet and briefly talk to Kris Straub, a webcomic artist whose work I greatly admire, especially in his sci-fi webcomic, Starslip.


What does all of this mean for the Cove? Well ideally I will manage to incorporate some of my experiences into an interesting post in the near future, but more importantly it means I am in desperate need of some time to readjust to normal life. Worry not, I’m not talking something crazy like a month or even a week, I’m just saying I’m certainly not coherent enough to post something of my ordinary length or quality today. I am, however, already working on a post for Wednesday, so hopefully everything will be back on schedule by then.


I thank you for your patience as I attempt to become a “normal” human being again, and reward your patience with this doodle I made of my favorite Cardfight!! Vanguard unit, Silent Tom, when I stole my brother’s tablet computer over Christmas vacation:


See? I can totally draw well enough to make a webcomic some day!


…shut up. I’m still going to try.



Remember you can always get the latest news about Cove of Solitude and my You Tube channel by following me on Twitter @VascoDaGamer


How NBC Grinched Community Fans

Go back to the snowflake you came from!

What are you so smug about, NBC? You're already the last place network, why make it worse?

‘Tis the holiday season, and in the world of television Christmas specials and midseason finales are fair game as of December first. This is often a joyous occasion as holiday specials can often spark creative, unexpected and hilarious situations for their characters. It’s a time when network and cable programmers reward their fans before taking a break from their busy lives to join their loved ones for the holidays. Unfortunately NBC has decided to give fans of one of the best sitcoms on TV, Community, the gift of disappointment and uncertainty.


Since the show premiered in 2009, it has easily been in my personal top three shows on Television, and while the critics at large and several industry people whose opinions I trust agree with me, not enough of America’s general populous do for the show to be a definite renewal for the next season. Right now, while NBC executives allegedly don’t plan to yank the series unceremoniously from their schedule, we don’t know when the remaining episodes of its third and current season will air.


I can’t say that this comes entirely as a blindside, however. Anyone familiar with Arrested Development, definitely a candidate for greatest television comedy of all time, knows that quality does not imply ratings and in the business of show numbers are king.


These two ill-fated series have a common problem, from my point of view. They’re both intellectual shows. They both utilize brilliant dry humor that can be too subtle to register with all audiences. Each show also has a unique issue as well, however. Arrested Development was a highlyserialized show, meaning you really couldn’t miss an episode and still fully understand the humor of the show. Community, on the other hand, is made by TV people for TV people. It’s a show that rewards people who know about current television (like their “Bleep My Dad Says” jokes of last season and even last week’s “Glee” parody) or a variety of TV and Film genres, as they often subvert genre tropes for comedy. Ironically, if the series existed in its own universe, I bet Abed would love it.

Just to be clear, there are no talking cats on Community.

An amazing moment from a recent Community episode, making fun of one of my favorite genres: the competition anime.


Having mentioned the basic premise for this year’s Christmas episode, the Glee parody, let’s take a moment to look at another pertinent series comparison, Community and Glee itself. Glee and Community stand as beacons of opposing forces within the realm of television. Glee is a series with high ratings and much success scarred by lazy writing and implausible occurrences within a world that’s meant to be largely realistic. Community, meanwhile, is a wacky series taking place in a somewhat unlikely world that grounds itself with sarcasm and self awareness making it a brilliant commentary on not only television as a whole, but its (woefully undervalued) place within it.


Glee is guilty of something I absolutely loathe within Hollywood: wasted potential. It may seem weird for me to say such a thing about a series that is such a huge hit, but I’m speaking from a writer’s perspective, as it is my natural inclination to do so. I was very excited when I saw the pilot for Glee. Ryan Murphy, the guy who made Nip/Tuck, a very unconventional show that I loved, was now trying to make a weekly scripted musical? This I had to see!


I watched about a season and a half of Glee before I couldn’t stand any more. The show has a solid premise and a strong cast, but I suspect that having to find room to write musical numbers into every episode has caused its inability to have a plot. Over the time that I watched the series, the overwhelming majority of episodes where about the threat of the Glee club being disbanded, the threat of half the club leaving to exclusively play football/cheerlead (is that actually a verb?), or the threat of someone being bullied so badly that they left Glee club to try and preserve their dignity.


I'm all for equal opportunity, but a wheelchair-bound player doesn't seem fair to either team. You can't exactly tackle him which changes the rules of the game.

It didn't help when they allowed the handi-capable Artie to join the football team. I only have so much suspension of disbelief in me.

Often, multiple of these stock plots would be combined for an exciting episode where nothing new happened and it was also fairly typical for a new relationship to be created only to be destroyed and forever forgotten by the end of the next episode. After a while I just couldn’t take the complete nonsensicality of someone learning the lesson that Glee club was the place where they were truly respected as a person, and then next week wanting to quit to go cheerleading again. Each of these plots makes perfect sense in their own right, and could maybe become issues a few times over the course of the series, but it was almost as if every episode had the same plot with different musical numbers in it. The characters never developed much and so neither did my interest to keep watching the show.


So what is this crime I accuse Glee of committing? Wasted potential. As I said, Glee had a good premise and a strong cast, if we just had some writers on staff to give the show a plot in addition to a series of musical performances to sell on iTunes, it would be a great series. I generally loathe films and TV shows that make poor use of a great idea, because once the concept exists in the world it’s much harder to make something similar without a really creative twist of some kind, whether or not the project is entertaining or successful. If its entertaining I can at least enjoy the existing material, but if it’s a failure then any time you try to pitch a similar idea people will remind you of how badly it failed the last time someone tried it.


Community, though, is the embodiment of the creative twist. It’s a show with an incredibly simple premise, a bunch of different people meet at the soul crushing community college they attend, join a study group together and become fast, unlikely friends. Community proves that it’s not just the quality of the premise, but how well it’s handled. Every week this show takes familiar ideas and concepts and does unexpected and impressive things with them. The Christmas Glee parody being one of the more clever ideas they’ve executed, and a memorable Christmas episode.


For those who haven’t seen it or don’t watch Community, which is a personal problem that you need to solve, the episode subverts the old Christmas standby (of stories such as the Will Ferrell classic Elf) that holiday song and cheer is a happy contagion, such that holiday songs are instead a virus that cause you to lose self control and make you obsessed with regionals.


Seriously, though, what ARE Regionals!?

Corey "Rad" Radisson is Greendale's Will Schuester, though his obsession with making regionals has driven some pretty extreme behavior.

The episode includes other treats for those familiar with Glee, like a really quirky music director with a squeaky clean persona, a mute piano player who exists solely for musical numbers and an impractical study room setup. It also stays true to holiday roots with some gems like a misguided attempt at a sexy Christmas number and proof that lyrics are better on the page than in our hearts.


I don’t want to give too much away, for anyone who hasn’t already had the pleasure of watching this episode, but hopefully I’ve managed to give you a taste of what makes Community such a brilliant show, and of why you should be watching it. This great episode is bittersweet, though, because of the undeserved indefinite hiatus that NBC has left in our stockings like so much coal.


As your preferred holiday celebrations draw ever-closer, remember that popularity and success are unfortunately not synonymous within the world of Television. While I am clearly a fan of television that most deem unworthy of watching, I would be quite happy to live in a world where the majority of shows were as great as Community. Just as you should remember to love and cherish your friends and family in this season of giving, remember that we need to appreciate great television while it’s still around, because you never know when you’re going to get Grinched.