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November 4, 2010
AMC’s new series The Walking Dead, the latest original series from the network that gifted its viewers the masterpieces Mad Men and Breaking Bad, and the flawed but watchable Rubicon, debuted on Sunday night–fittingly–on Halloween. The new show starring Andrew Lincoln moved slowly and cryptically. They got to the zombies alright, but did little to explain their presence, or the world that Sheriff Grimes wakes up in, in which humans are scarce and the walking, or staggering majority, are flesh fiending undead.
Don’t get us wrong. We aren’t killing this show, pardon the pun. We like a good, dark show, and we appreciate shows that take the time necessary to properly develop plotlines. We like Lincoln as the choice for lead, and the premise, if not original, that the few humans left must have this back to the wall, edge of the world mentality to survive. But a little more information about the nature of the zombies and the state of the world and its new world order would have been appreciated. The dead, we have gleaned, have more than just primal instincts. We learn as much in the opening scene when Grimes accosts a little girl, who we only learn is a zombie when she turns and reveals her decaying puss riddled face, after the Sheriff calls to her over and over, “Little girl! Don’t be afraid!” What we first see of her, before we get clued in, is that she bends down to retrieve a teddy bear. So there’s more to these zombies than the mantra, “just eat flesh.”
They also seem to feature one zombie very prominently in camera shots in Atlanta, where Grimes gallops to on horseback, thinking that he’ll find life. It’s an ironic sequence, where the Sheriff, unable to find gas for his car, tames a lonely horse by telling the horse he wouldn’t hurt him and that they could go to Atlanta together where there would be food, people, and other horses. As soon as they arrive in the city, the walking dead smell fresh meat, seemingly led by one zombie, formally attired in a jacket and tie, and with a Frankenstein style mullet of hair. The next thing you know, Tanto is being eaten alive by zombies while the Sheriff crawls up into an abandoned U.S. Army tank for cover, after briefly having his revolver to his head for a second.
So the army seems not to have survived the onslaught of the walking dead, but marital strife, we are glad to know, has made the cut in post apocolyptic zombie U.S.A. This poor Sheriff, rightfully concerned about being eaten alive, also has a bitchy wife at home to worry about, who complains to him in front of his son that ‘she doesn’t know if he even cares about them.’
Obviously Sheriff Grimes has his work cut out for him in what we think will be a quality series. That’s not to say that Community–what we know is a quality series–didn’t beat The Walking Dead to the punch last Thursday with a Halloween zombie themed episode that was more entertaining and that better explained why the Greendale campus became flesh eating monsters. Dean Pelton (Jim Rash), one of two prominent male NBC characters that evening to dress as Lady Gaga for Halloween (Gabe, The Office…btw, respect to The Office and guest star Timothy Olyphant, Deadwood and Justified star, on his guest run as a Dunder Mifflin paper salesman), mistakenly orders a radioactive chemical thinking it’s taco meat for Greendale’s Halloween party. Pierce (Chevy Chase), dressed for the party as Captain Kirk, gets sick and proceeds to bite Star Burns while Dr. Rich (Greg Cromer), the pottery ringer from last year’s episode “Pottery 101”, and our favorite Community hottie Annie (Alison Brie, below, who also plays Trudy Campbell on Mad Men) administer care to him. Annie calls Star Burns (Dino Stamatapolous) Star Burns to his face, to which a panicky, infected Star Burns replies insultedly, “My name is Alex!” Quickly thereafter, just about everyone is a zombie, and the study group, along with Dr. Rich barricade themselves into their study area as mayhem ensues.
The acerbic Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), dressed as David Beckham for Halloween (in an Italian suit holding a soccer ball), reels off a superb one-liner at his old nemesis from pottery class, Dr. Rich. “Now would be a good time to mention,” he says “that I hate you.” And in a stunning Community development, Senor Chang and Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) do the deed while locked in a bathroom out of reach of the zombies–gross–all while Dean Pelton’s iPOD plays Abba and a loop of the Dean’s verbal memos to self throughout the campus, making for a temporary hell on earth indeed.
We were disappointed that 30 Rock skipped out on giving us a Halloween episode last week, considering the creative genius behind the show. We were expecting, in the least, some very clever costumes. We guess that since they did it live a few weeks back–twice in fact–for each coast, they didn’t have to do it for Halloween. But at least they did it with Mad Men star Jon Hamm.
June 1, 2010
The Community season finale began with our beloved Annie (Alison Brie) in a liplock with her granola boyfriend, Vaughn (pictured below), Greendale’s resident guitar strumming shirtless hacky sacker, but would end on a surprise note, if not one that wouldn’t include our little Annie hooking up again.
The very solid season finale contained a little bit of everything, including a keg party. Finally. See Troy below, dancing up a storm at the party thrown by Abed, and which was attended by the usual suspects, including Professor Slater, who once again is interested in getting with Jeff. In fact, while Winger’s love life provided most of the drama, with Britta (Gillian Jacobs) not about to let go of her claim to Jeff so easily, Annie’s sudden rash decision to transfer to a Delaware school with Vaughn (Eric Christian Olsen), who has been offered a place on a “premiere” hacky sack team, and a chance to be the next hacky sack phenom the calibre of a Yeng Yeng Mackadeng Deng Jr., and friction between Troy and Abed, who won’t invite Troy to be his roommate despite their close friendship, Community, as it usually does, had many irons in the fire.
Britta, nominated as candidate for transfer queen, or “Tranny Queen”, which Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) thinks sounds better, is conflicted about the nomination on a feminist level, detesting the way the spectacle will objectify women, who always keeps it real, asks her free shrink, Professor Duncan (John Oliver), “You think I’d feel better about myself if I got all sexed up, went over there, and tried to win crowned queen of the dingbats?”
With Slater again vying for Jeff though, that’s exactly what Britta will do. With the semester over, and Abed’s kegger in the past, at which the uptight Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) engaged in a keg stand (good for her!), the only school function left for the year is the “Tranny Pageant”, which opens with Pierce (Chevy Chase), playing the Greendale theme song that he ‘wrote’, an obvious rip off of Bruce Hornsby’s The Way it Is. Pierce then gives a hilarious speech to Troy, in which he invites him to come and live in his mansion–a dynamic with the potential to be comedy gold for the show going forward. Says Pierce:
You, me, Jeff, Rainman, Big Boobs, Medium Boobs, and Black Boobs have to stick together.
Troy’s reply was as precious:
Am I black boobs?
The dance becomes even more eventful, when Annie pulls Jeff (Joel McHale) aside, to tell her that she is leaving for Delaware with Vaughn (pictured below), and then says her touching goodbyes to the entire group, but we know one of our favorite Mad Men actresses, and there are many of those, can’t really be leaving forever, can she?
Then the dance really heats up, when Britta and Slater (Lauren Stamile) begin competing for Jeff, at one point even double teaming his face (below)–which he would have enjoyed under different circumstances, but instead, is confounded, pressured and confused about who to choose.
Britta, who is called to the fore by the dean, thinking she won the pageant, grabs the microphone, and starts a premature victory speech, but when she sees Slater kissing Jeff, she breaks the speech off, and speaks from the heart, true to her character, declaring her love for Jeff awkwardly (below) in front of a cast of characters that included Dean Pelton’s 2 dalmation costumed dates, a drunk Professor Duncan, Senor Chang (Ken Jeong), now a student, and even a Matt Jones sighting (Badger, Breaking Bad). But Jeff, unsure of who to choose in what is a very public moment, cuts out without making a choice, saying he needs time to think.
Meanwhile, the affable and wise Abed (Danny Pudi) makes peace with Troy, who realizes that Abed was not offering him a bunk to preserve their good friendship. It took a stomach ache from a really enormous cookie meant to be divided for all at the party that Troy commandeers solo to make him realize that Abed was right when he told Troy he should live with someone he likes but whose friendship “won’t be altered by constant irritation.”
Jeff, who has fled the scene of Britta’s uncomfortable pronouncement of affection, is getting some air when Annie returns with the news that she and Vaughn have broken up. Then the season ends with a makeout session between Winger and Annie, their second kiss, which was foreshadowed by their first, a kiss that supposedly meant nothing that took place at a Greendale debate competition.
The finale lived up to the expectations set by the fine season of television Community has given us, set up a prime time romance between two of the shows brightest stars, while putting many interesting storylines into play for next season. And we even got to see the annoying Brit Professor Duncan, especially snide at every opportunity, get assaulted, deservedly, by Senor Chang, who punched him in the face with a roll of quarters in his fist.
We hope you didn’t miss it.
May 20, 2010
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May 12, 2010
NBC’s Thursday night comedy lineup has kept its fans guessing, waiting even, all year when it comes to three prominent romantic storylines: April and Andy (Parks and Recreation), Andy and Erin (The Office), and Jeff and Britta, on our favorite new comedy this year, Community, produced by Dan Harmon (The Sarah Silverman Program). While Andrew Bernard–the “Nard Dog” has recently begun to make time with Erin, and while April is set to hatch a big plan to snatch Andy on the final episodes of P & R this season (this Thursday and next), it was Jeff and Britta who were first to sexy time. Finally.
Community’s ensemble cast, which we’ve been high on from the start, most especially because of comedic legend Chevy Chase and Mad Men actress Alison Brie (Trudy Campbell), hasn’t one weak link in the chain. Unknown to us was Danny Pudi, who plays the enigmatic Abed, and his partner in crime Troy, played by Donald Glover–a fine comedic talent who Community pilfered from the writing staff of another NBC Thursday hit, 30 Rock. Glover, a rising young comic, was hired by 30 Rock while still a student at New York University (Tisch School holler!). Troy and Abed, best friends on the show, have provided an unpredictable element with their escapades, such as their pretend radio show, Troy and Abed in the Morning, Abed’s odd friendship with Spanish teacher, Senor Chang (Ken Jeong), and Troy’s off again on again flirtation with Annie (Alison Brie), with whom he went to high school, and who has harbored a secret crush for Troy, also the school’s star quarterback.
Above, Britta, Annie and Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown), in the dean’s office. Annie had never seen a penis before, and she was selected by Dean Pelton (Jim Rash, well known from Reno 911 as a whore mongering miscreant named Andrew) to demonstrate putting a condom on a penis equipped mannequin, at an STD fair. Britta and Shirley decide to help Annie by breaking in to see the mannequin before hand, so that Annie can practice, in episode 9, The Politics of Human Sexuality.
In Physical Education, perhaps the show’s best episode yet, Jeff takes a billiards class, which he is thrilled about, until the instructor mandates that he must wear Greendale CC short shorts. Jeff storms out, but returns to challenge his instructor, Coach Bogner (veteran actor Blake Clark) after Abed teaches Jeff that if he is comfortable with himself he can conform for others. As the pool game heats up, a crowd gathers, and the clothes start coming off. To win the match, a naked Jeff must make a shot that literally require his balls be on the table, and his legs spread eagle–one of the funniest television moments of the year.
Community has given us a bit of everything in its first season. Costumes–Abed as Batman (below with Jeff) and Pierce, practical joked into dressing like the Cookie Crisp fairy, and big time guest spots by Lee Majors, Jack Black, and even the unlikely Katherine McPhee, as Pierce’s grifter step daughter.
A blonde Katherine McPhee (left), with Jeff. And yes, he banged her. But he didn’t bang Britta, the apple of his eye for 2 semesters, until last week when the Greendale campus devolved into a war zone for a paint ball game in which the winner would be given priority registration. After a long day of paintball, the two finally did it, on a table in one of the university’s common rooms.
We hear that Jeff’s ex, Professor Slater (Lauren Stamile) will renew her interest in Jeff in the season finale, but our money is on Britta to win Jeff’s affection for the foreseeable future, which will be at least part of another full season, because Community was renewed for a full slate, and rightly so. But we have one question still lingering from Jeff and Britta’s first time: did they use a condom?
P.S. Community star Joel McHale, a fine performer in his own right, recently played The Music Box, at The Borgata in Atlantic City.