Our biggest problem as Americans is that we want what we want NOW, and it better be good or else. The problem with that (at least when it comes to art) is that we don’t always give things the chance to evolve and turn our backs on something we could potentially enjoy a great deal just because it doesn’t feel like we’re enjoying it enough at that particular moment.
I waffled on NBC’s “Community” big-time last season. Initially, I thought the show had promise. A group of misfits including a former big shot lawyer (played by “The Soup”‘s Joel McHale) attend community college and become friends. All last year, I wavered between “this show is pretty good” (the pool-contest episode is hilarious) and “this show should be much better than it is” (Ken Jeong’s Senor Chang and Danny Pudi’s Abed occasionally irritated the shit out of me). Even last year’s semi-cliffhanger final episode (in which Gillian Jacobs’ Britta proclaimed her love for McHale’s Jeff Winger, which Winger doesn’t exactly reciprocate) left me lukewarm.
Nevertheless, I parked myself in front of the boob tube for the Season 2 premiere, and I was pleasantly surprised. Over summer vacation, the writing appears to have gotten a lot sharper, or maybe the cast has gelled. I would think that one of the biggest challenges of a sitcom writing team would be to find memorable lines for everyone on the cast, and somehow they managed to give everyone a chance to shine in this first episode. Jeff and Britta hilariously deal with the fallout from the season-ending confession, Troy (Donald Glover) and Pierce (Chevy Chase, in his best role since “Fletch”), have moved in together, and Senor Chang has now become a student. In addition, the gang has to deal with Betty White as a slightly unhinged professor-absolute comic gold!
In-jokes (and not-so-in jokes) were abundant in this episode, from the hilarious references to CBS’s “S*&^ My Dad Says” to Donald Glover’s Spider-Man shirt (Glover was famously the subject of a Twitter campaign designed to allow him to audition for the role of Spider-Man) to the writers making fun of the Abed character’s capability to be incredibly annoying to the wedding singer who reconfigured the lyrics to The Cranberries’ “Linger”-this episode generated more LOLs for me than anything I’ve watched on TV in quite some time. Then to top it all off, there was this piece of comic gold at the episode’s conclusion.
How awesome is that?
Here’s hoping the improved writing becomes a consistent trait of “Community”‘s second season and all the good jokes weren’t used up in the first episode. If they can string together a few great episodes, “Community” will certainly join “Modern Family” and “30 Rock” as must-see TV for me this year.