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Community - The Complete 1st Season Review




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Rating
Video:   9/10
Audio:   9/10
Extras:   7/10

Abed rocks!
by Gord Lacey (All reviews)
10/14/2010

    Smooth talking ex-lawyer Jeff Winger has got a lot to learn, and he's come to Greendale Community College to avoid every bit of it. Unfortunately for Jeff, he's not the only misfit to enroll here, and people in need have an odd way of finding each other. First, his fake study group becomes a real study group. Then, over the course of a strange year - from Mexican Halloween to the final 'Tranny Dance' - including bad trips, great debates, drunk dials, food fights, epic paintball battles and sinister chicken finger conspiracies - the group becomes a family, something Jeff never wanted, but clearly needs.

    Starring Joel McHale (TV's The Soup), Ken Jeong (The Hangover) and Emmy Award winner Chevy Chase.
I recall a few people talking about Community last year, saying it was quite good and that I should give it a shot. That piqued my interest, but I became more interested after reading Sarah Silverman's book, Bedwetter (it's a fun book, and I'm not even a huge fan of hers), where she mentioned the show a few times due to her connection with Dan Harmon, the creator of Community and one of the writers/creators of The Sarah Silverman Program. About the only thing I knew about the show was that it was set in a Community College, and was a comedy. Hey, that's enough for me.

This 4-disc set includes all 25 episodes from the first season:

Disc 1 (2:33:44)
Pilot - Extended Cut (25:30)
Spanish 101 (21:23)
Introduction to Film (21:23)
Social Psychology (21:21)
Advanced Criminal Law (21:22)
Football, Feminism and You (21:24)
Introduction to Statistics (21:21)

Disc 2 (2:08:04)
Home Economics (21:20)
Debate 109 (21:21)
Environmental Science (21:23)
The Politics of Human Sexuality (21:21)
Comparative Religion (21:21)
Investigative Journalism (21:18)

Disc 3 (2:33:39)
Interpretive Dance (20:46)
Romantic Expressionism (21:21)
Communication Studies (21:14)
Communication Studies Extended Producer's Cut (26:34)
Physical Education (21:22)
Basic Genealogy (21:00)
Beginner Pottery (21:22)

Disc 4 (2:07:21)
The Science of Illusion (20:55)
Contemporary American Poultry (21:21)
The Art of Discourse (21:21)
Modern Warfare (21:04)
English as a Second Language (21:19)
Pascal's Triangle Revisited (21:21)

Video

Community looks fairly good on DVD, with an Anamorphic Widescreen (1.78:1) presentation. I thought the pilot episode had quite a bit of noise in it; I'm guessing they changed to different cameras for the rest of the season, as the other episodes look a lot better. There are chapters after the opening of each episode, and a "play all" option.

Audio

It's no surprise that Sony has released Community with an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track, as pretty much any recent show includes one. The track sounds good, and the many popular songs used in the episodes remain intact on the set. The rear speakers are used for ambient effects, with the dialog occupying the center speaker, and the two front speakers used for most of the sound effects. There are English subtitles available on the episodes.

Extras - How we rate extras

Commentary Tracks
I only had a chance to listen to a few of these, but they were all great. It's a nice mix between production people and the cast, with Dan Harmon and Joel McHale appearing on almost every track (impressive!).
Pilot - Extended Cut - Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Anthony Russo and Joe Russo.
Spanish 101 - Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Chevy Chase and Joe Russo.
Introduction to Film - Dan Harmon, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi and Donald Glover.
Social Psychology - Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Yvette Nicole Brown and Anthony Russo.
Advanced Criminal Law - Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs and Andrew Guest.
Football, Feminism and You - Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Donald Glover and Joe Russo.
Introduction to Statistics - Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Chevy Chase and Roe Russo.
Home Economics - Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Danny Pudi and Lauren Pomerantz.
Debate 109 - Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Alison Brie and Joe Russo.
Environmental Science - Dan Harmon, Gillian Jacobs, Donald Glover and Ken Jeong.
The Politics of Human Sexuality - Dan Harmon, Alison Brie, Donald GLover and Hilary Winston.
Comparative Religion - Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Yvette Brown and Adam Davidson.
Investigative Journalism - Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Alison Brie and Joe Russo.
Interpretive Dance - Dan Harmon, Gillian Jacobs and Danny Pudi.
Romantic Expressionism - Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Donald Glover, Joe Russo and Andrew Guest.
Communication Studies - Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Danny Pudi and Anthony Russo.
Physical Education - Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Yvette Nicole Brown, Chevy Chase and Karey Dornetto.
Basic Genealogy - Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Vvette Nicole Brown and Hilary Winston.
Beginner Pottery - Dan Harmon, Gillian Jacobs, Yvette Nicole Brown and Adam Davidson.
The Science of Illusion - Dan Harmon, Gillian Jacobs, Yvette Nicole Brown and Adam Davidson.
Contemporary American Poultry - Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs and Danny Pudi.
The Art of Discourse - Dan Harmon, Danny Pudi, Donald Glover, Adam Davidson and Chris McKenna.
Modern Warfare - Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs and Emily Cutler.
English as a Second Language - Dan Harmon, Alison Brie, Donald Glover and Ken Jeong.
Pascal's Triangle Revisited - Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Donald Glover, Joe Russo and Hilary Winston.

Outtakes (33:22)
A bunch of funny, unbeeped scenes that couldn't be used for obvious reasons. There are outtakes on EVERY disc - that's a lot!

Creative Compromises (2:53)
Dan Harmon talks about how watered down the show is compared to his original vision. Gotta hate the "TV machine" sometimes.

Community Season One Cast Evaluations (11:43)
A much cleaner-shaved Dan Harmon takes a look at the ratings of the show, and how the cast performances coincide.

Alternate Scene (3:58)
Just a single scene from "Advanced Criminal Law" is available.

Mini Episodes (4:32)
These short "study breaks," are pretty cool.
Stop Using Your Brain (1:31)
Truth or Dare (1:31)
Generation Gap (1:30)

Season One Highlight Reel (5:05)
Honestly, I didn't really like this, as it doesn't capture the show very well at all.

Previews
Previews for a few other Sony releases. I think The Pillars of the Earth looks fantastic.

Summary

I was really happy to discover this is a single-camera comedy, not a sitcom. I don't like being told when to laugh, and I find that many sitcoms write their jokes to get the big laugh, not the little snicker, and it's often the snickers I like the most. At first I found the show funny, but not hilarious, however that changed further along in the season. The characters all have their little quirks, some more than others, and I appreciated that the writers never took it too far with any of them. Pierce could become annoying, Abed could become totally insane, and Britta could become overbearing, but they never did because the writers knew when to reel them in. I think Abed was my favorite character, simply because of the way he viewed the world; as an episode of a TV show, or a movie. It's wonderful because it allows the writers the ability to comment, through Abed's dialog, on how a scene relates to a movie, so the viewer is left with the idea that the show is paying homage to the show or movie instead of ripping it off. Brilliant!

I commented that the show started a little slow for me, and I thought maybe the characters needed time to develop. After re-watching the first 6 episodes I discovered it wasn't a problem with the characters at all, as they were fully developed right from the pilot, I just needed time to understand them. Those first episodes I re-watched were funnier the second time, most likely because I already knew the characters. Try re-watching some episodes for yourself and see if they're funnier the second time around.

Sony isn't really known for loading their sets with extras, but they've done a great job with this one. Commentary on every episode, tons of outtakes, mini-episodes, and some funny behind-the-scenes material will make fans of this show smile. If you haven't already, go out and pick this one up.


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