Saturday, 31 January 2015

Community: Social Psychology written by Liz Cackowski and directed by Anthony Russo

What's it about: Jeff begins to bond with Shirley over Britta's new boyfriend and his teeny tiny nipples...

Ensemble: I'm sure we've all had that moment where we have been part of a group of friends and have found that there is one person included that we would rather avoid spending time with alone. Like Jeff, I found that once I started spending time with them I actually had a great deal in common and began to enjoy and look forward to my time with them. He pigeon holes Shirley as a squeaky clean mum of two without any vices but the truth of the matter is that this God fearing Christian is the biggest tattle tale on the planet. She ruthlessly enjoys taking the mickey out of those who come onto her radar and Jeff and Shirley have an ideal target in Vaughn, a man who is screaming out to have the world mock his naiveté. It is a joy to watch them ripping on the eccentrics that surround them at Greendale (and there is something about Shirley's laugh that I find impossible to resist). Annie lost her scholarship and virginity to the pills that she took in High School, that's why she has found herself stuck at Community College. I am deeply in love with John Oliver's portrayal of Ian Duncan and so more time in his company is a huge bonus in this episodes favour. Teaming him up with Annie is a stroke of genius, the stuffy (but horny) English Professor and the perky (and chaste) American straight-A student. Donald Glover was somebody who wasn't on my radar in the initial episodes but he grows to become one of the most versatile and nuanced of performers in the ensemble. His breakdown in Duncan's experiment is the first signs of the greatness to come. Interestingly this is the first instance of the impenetrable nature of the group and their closeness hurting people around them. Vaughn might be a bit of a dork but what the group do to him is bullying, plain and simple. Their destructive nature is revisited several times in later seasons to fascinating effect (poor Todd).

Introducing: Britta's new boyfriend who lasts about as long as sneeze before moving onto fresher pastures within the group. I would like to say something deeply profound about this new ager who seems to do everything but hug a tree but my one residing impression of him (despite his hilarious break up songs) are his microscopic nipples (and kudos to Olsen who runs with the gag). Shirley searching for them on his chest when his back is turned is laugh out loud hilarious.

Feeling Hot Hot Hot: Vaughn is something of a cutie, despite is widdle diddle nips. Even Jeff thinks so.

Meta: 'I figure we were more like Chandler and Phoebe. They never really had stories together' - Abed on his relationship with Annie. This is something that would drastically change over time.

Great Gags: 'My kids got hamsters with bigger nips!'
'Honestly Jeff, how dare you!' - sometimes timing is everything.
'They call me Tattleina. It's a bumble bee nickname. It's cute but it stings.'
'What are we going to talk about? My kids? Your Doctor career?' 'I was a lawyer' 'See, I'm already bored...' - reminds me so much of one of my friends with the shortest attention span ever.

Funniest Moment: Duncan's experiment revolves around people being kept waiting for an experiment to begin and seeing how long they take to break. The punchline comes when all the test subjects breakdown and leave the room in various spectacularly dramatic ways but Abed waits patiently for over an entire day. Which in turns double backs the experiment and causes the good Professor and his students to succumb to the 'Duncan Principle' as they are forced to endure the never ending wait to see the experiment throughout. The emotional punchline comes when we realise Abed was seething with rage the whole time but contained it because he wanted to be a good friend to Annie and she had asked him to participate. He really doesn't exist on our plane, does he? But he is so sweet. Chang breaking down within seconds is worth a chuckle too with Ken Jeong losing it in the way only he can.

Sidelined: Community has such a large cast that not every character can be highlighted each week and this is the section that will flag up who has been shunted into the dead end gag of the week. Pierce and his 'earnoculars' take the biscuit this time around.

End Tag: Gleefully funny, Troy and Abed take the piss out of a handful of people behind a glass partition that they think cannot hear them. 'Just pretend like you were sleeping.'

Result: 'We'll always have tiny nipples...' Joyfully ridiculous and finally shining the spotlight on arguably my favourite character (Shirley), Advanced Psychology had me in stitches from beginning to end. At some point the show has to drop the ball but it's opening stretch of episodes is one of absolute confidence in it's mission statement to entertain. Season one is something of the odd man out when it comes to Community, the only season that sits comfortably beside all the other happy go lucky sitcom out there before things get anarchic and out of this world. But within that ordinariness the creators have cultivated a stunning ensemble and some outrageous scenarios. Duncan's psychology experiment gone hideously wrong proves delightfully oddball and has a fine heart-warming sting to it and Shirley and Jeff's outrageous tittle tattle builds bridges between the two characters in a way that neither of them were expecting. What else is there to say except stop reading these reviews and grab yourself season one - I cannot see how you could ever regret it: 9/10

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