There’s a new sitcom hitting the box, or DVD shelves, every week nowadays, and next week is no exception, as it marks the release of the first season of Community; the latest sitcom to cross the Atlantic, and a show that happens to be surprisingly funny.
Joel McHale (The Informant) headlines the show as a former lawyer named Jeff Winger, who’s been disbarred, is forced to attend a community college, and soon falls in with a loveable band of misfits when his attempts to bed the campus hottie Britta (Gillian Jacobs, The Box) don’t exactly pan out, Community is an episodic show with little meaning or drama, that’s insanely easy to watch, remarkably funny, and possibly the best sitcom to come out of the US in the past few years.
While the show doesn’t have any kind of series-arch to speak of (something which makes it easy to watch on TV; as missing an episode here or there wouldn’t matter) it’s interesting to see the different directions each episode takes; with many involving easy to recognise subjects such as trying to take easy classes and having it backfire, campus romances, difficult teachers (the most recognisable of whom; Señor Chang; is played by The Hangover‘s Ken Jeong) dealing out unreasonable amounts of homework, and more original/quirky episodes; such as when a game of paintball takes over the entire college, and becomes a real fight to survive.
It’s also fun to see how Jeff’s group; which consist of a perfect blend of misfits, including a former drug addict (Alison Brie, Scream 4), an ex-high-school jock Donald Glover (Mystery Team), a Christian divorcee Yvette Nicole Brown (500 Days of Summer), a film obsessed Muslim (Danny Pundi, Road Trip: Beer Pong), and an eccentric, racist, bigoted, millionaire (Chevy Chase, Caddyshack); interacts with one another, and deals with the various situations that are thrown at them, and given that Community: The Complete First Season is a full 25 episodes long, there’s ample time for each member of the group to interact with each of the others, and get enough screen time to ensure their characters are worthwhile (there’s even time for a lengthy cameo from Jack Black, and a brief appearance by Owen Wilson).
Characterization is also great in Community as even though the characters themselves are pretty cliched they all interact with one another perfectly (and given the length of the series they all get chance to mingle with every other member of the group at some point), and in the slightly heightened world of Community (where everything is just a little exaggerated) they somehow seem to fit, and make the show what it is; funny.
It may be cliched, it might not be all that original, and it might not be brimming with comedic talent, but Community is a true dark horse of a comedy series that any true comedy fan is bound to love; sure it can be childish and a little obvious sometimes, but the writings great, the acting is perfectly apt (everyone seems to fit into their roles with ease, and special mentions should go to the brilliant Danny Pundi, and the always hilarious Chevy Chase), and Community is just about everything you could want from a decent comedy show; it’s easy to watch, and above all else, consistently and impressively funny.
While the DVD release of Community: The Complete First Season was never going to match up to a series such as True Blood or The Pacific, it’s video transfer is impressive nonetheless, and transports the show onto DVD with a fairly sharp picture that incorporates plenty of detail (which is never hampered by grain), natural skintones, great colour and contrast, and only a few minor artifacts (which don’t really bare mentioning); making for a strong, but far from memorable viewing experience.
Likewise Community’s 5.1 Dolby Digital transfer won’t have audiophiles jumping up and down for joy, but should easily satisfy regular viewers; as it does a fine job of reproducing the dialogue (the most important part of any sitcom soundtrack, and essential from ensuring though zingy one-liners really hit home), contains appropriate levels of ambient noise when needed, even finds opportunity to tease the LFE once in a while, and above all is not only consistently clear, but excellently leveled.
In terms of extras, Community goes all out and provides fans with a wealth of bonus content that adds up to a total of over 90 minutes worth of special features; including funny and informative audio commentaries which are available on every single one of the season’s 25 episodes (fans will want to look out for the exceptionally good commentaries with Donald Glover and Danny Pundi), extended episodes, alternate scenes, a couple of featurettes, some amusing outtakes, a highlight reel, and three mini episodes; ensuring that Community fans are guaranteed to walk away from this DVD boxset happy.
The Bottom Line:
Most people won’t have heard of Community, but the release of Community: The Complete First Season on DVD is the perfect opportunity to get acquainted with a show that’s one of the best comedies to come out of the US in a long time. Community is funnier than 30 Rock, better than The Big Bang Theory, or How I met Your Mother, and is a show so funny, and easy to watch, that it’ll have comedy fans doubled-up laughing, and wondering why they’ve never watched it before.
The DVD boxset is also the perfect way to enjoy the show; as the picture and audio quality are both very good, and the selection of special features on offer is simply stunning (it’s so good it betters most big budget feature films, never mind simple TV shows), and as such it’s hard to think of a reason not to pick up a copy of Community: The Complete First Season (a consistent, and surprisingly funny series) on DVD.