This Thursday marks the return of one of my favorite shows on television: NBC’s Community. To celebrate the return of the show, I am taking a look back at each of the previous three seasons. Beware, there may be minor spoilers, but I will try not to reveal any major plot developments. Enjoy!
While the first season of Community was inconsistent and did not manage to find its identity until the very end, the second season quickly establishes itself as quality television. In season one, the show started with many episodes that seemed very generic. In this season, the show does a very good job of giving itself its own quirky identity that sets itself apart from all the other sitcoms that were on television at the time.
The season starts out with a mediocre first episode but quickly ramps up, with the early season highlight being “Basic Rocket Science”, an episode where the study group has an Apollo 13-esque experience in a KFC-sponsored space simulator. This episode also develops the growing conflict between humble Greendale Community College and the powerful rival City College.
A little less than midway through the season is my favorite episode, “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design”. This very smart featuring a great homage to Arrested Development at the end is a classic Community episode; it features a very meta storyline along with brain-bending ridiculousness. Another midseason highlight is “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas”, an entirely stop-motion animated episode from the mind of Abed Nadir. The episode begins with a comedic tone, but by the end the show once again shows of its dramatic chops with some heartwarming moments. Several other great mid-to-late season episodes include “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” and the stellar “Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking”
The end of the season continues to be strong, with the smart double parody episode “Critical Film Studies” (Pulp Fiction and My Dinner With Andre), and ends strong with a two-part sequel to last season’s paintball episode, these entitled “A Fistfull of Paintballs” and “For a Few Paintballs More”. These episodes are almost good as last season’s “Modern Warfare”, and masterfully parody multiple popular franchises and genres. The season ends on a somewhat unexpected note, and the relationship between the group members will be tested in the following season.
During this season, the characters on the show continue to become more unique and interesting. Troy Barnes (Donald Glover), who played a more minor role in the previous season, quickly became my favorite character after watching this one. Also, the most unique character of the series, Abed Nadir, is forced to explore some of his deep emotional troubles.
Overall, the second season of Community is much more consistently good than the previous season, and has almost too many episodes to recommend. This season is where Community truly hit its stride creatively and comically.
Essential episodes: “Basic Rocket Science”, “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design”, “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas”, “Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking”, “A Fistfull of Paintballs”, “For a Few Paintballs More”