Friday, May 18, 2012

Introduction to Finality

My Community Season Three Wrap Up

Another season of Community ended. I'm not sure why I'm writing this post... but watching the finale gave me the same feeling as finishing a huge project. I just need to spend some time to reflect and write a wrap up report. It's all part o' the process.

If you asked me to choose one word to describe this season of Community, I'd instantly respond with "Ambitious." Dan Harmon (the series creator) has this big focus on story circles, his take on the "hero's journey" concept. In the past, these circles were mostly contained to individual episode. In this season, the circles spanned episodes. There were large story arc circles regarding the Air Conditioning Repair Annex, Chang as a security guard, and Pierce's father as well as many, many personal circles, such as Troy/Britta, Annie/Jeff, and the Dean finding himself. In contrast, Season 2 only really had the Shirley's baby story arc.

Now if you asked me if it worked... honestly, I'd say no. Don't get me wrong... I loved watching every episode and out of all the shows I've been following this season, it's definitely been my favorite. But all my favorite episodes were the more self contained episodes (Remedial Chaos Theory, Basic Lupine Urology, etc...) For the most part, all the episodes dealing with the story arcs didn't work for me. They all felt like they either weren't explored in enough depth or just weren't that interesting to begin with. (To be fair, I felt the same way about Season 2's baby story. Maybe I'm just not a fan of Harmon's plots.)

But the thing I disliked about this season of community the most wasn't the (all IMHO of course) failed ambitions, the meanness of the characters, or life message that didn't really resonate with me... it was the zaniness of everything. I missed the backdrop and characters of Seasons 1 and 2 where everything seemed much more realistic. This season, the situations just seemed too far fetched to me and the characters, while still great, seemed like completely different people from before. The show even poked fun at that. Also, there was a big push to take the characters out of Greendale Community College this season... I didn't really like the result. I kinda wished the characters would just go back to school. So my personal ranking of the seasons is S2, S1, then S3.

Anyway, those are my gripes... despite how much I wrote, they're actually minor. And like I said, Community is still the show I look most forward to watching. I never know what they'll try next and, in general, I love genre-bending.

Besides the show itself, I was amazed at everything that happened outside the show and how fun it was. All the Soup shout-outs and other external media (Danny Glover's plea and A Day in the Life of Joel McHale) were great. The subreddit for Community was great and the avclub reviews/comments were always fun to read the next day. I don't know if a TV comedy sitcom has ever been dissected and discussed as much as Community. A show like Lost I can understand... but a TV comedy?

Surprisingly, Community really deserved it. A lot of detail and easter eggs go into each episode. To catch all the jokes, not only do you need to have watched every episode, you need to read the website (eg Britta's background story) and know about the lives of the cast and crew. (Or, of course, you can just lurk on enough discussions.) Granted, these inside jokes and overall chaotic feel of the show are why I completely understand Community is not for everyone (the casual viewer won't understand the meaning behind "#SixSeasonsAndAMovie"), but it works really well for me.

Not only were there a lot of hidden on-air details to discuss, there was so much happening in the real life background. The fans had a chance to "save the show", Dan Harmon is his own worst enemy, the Chevy Chase feud, the twitter talk, and all the sneak peaks n' speculations. It all ended with a 13 episode renewal and a real life cliffhanger on how much the next season will involve Dan Harmon. So of course there's a lot to discuss and it's been really fun. I wonder if the reboot of Arrested Development will reach these levels of discussion.

Dan Harmon says each season of Community has a theme: Season One was communication (Spanish), Season Two was civilization (Anthropology), Season Three was life (Biology). Life is very complicated and season three was such a big circle with so many parts buzzing around it. That closing montage in the finale felt more like a series finale than a season finale. I guess it's obvious why this finale felt so monumental, it had such a strong sense of closure. It was very satisfying and I'm glad I spent the time watching the show.

That said, I'm looking forward to this season's DVD and the next thirteen episodes! Six Seasons and a Movie!


Community Season One DVD:
Community Season Two DVD:
Community Subreddit
AV Club Reviews
Season Three Easter Eggs List
NBC Official Site 

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