Community: Modern Warfare
New TV shows are sometimes hard to get into. You have to learn new characters and plots and settings. Most of the time they are not worth your effort. One that you should take notice of is Community. It is the beginning of NBC’s stellar thursday night comedy line up and quite possibly the funniest show of the night. The reason I am saying this now is because of last weeks episode entitled “Modern Warfare”. It was quite possibly the best piece of satire and homage ever condensed down to 22 minutes.
The episode starts fairly nondescript, with the characters of Jeff and Britta arguing and denying that they have any sexual tension between them. Sounds like standard comedy plotting. And it is, but then it changes gears and reaches a level of awesomeness that I am afraid it won’t even be able to top. Jeff decides to go to his car and have nap, forgoing the schools spring fair and last man standing paintball game, prize “TBD”. Upon awakening, Jeff is left to wander a vacant and destroyed school courtyard covered in paint. He has no idea what has happened and where all his friends are. After having Abed save his life and warn him “if you don’t want paint on your clothes, come with me” Jeff is reunited with Troy and Abed and learns of the prize for the paintball game. Priority registration for next years semester, which for Jeff means that he can put all his classes on a Monday and have a 6 day weekend.
This episode then kicks into gear and pretty much touches on every cliche and iconic image from all the best action movies. The study group eventually unites together and form a pact, that they will stick together until they are sure they are the last group left, then its game over. The pacing and styling of the next 15 minutes of TV is anything short of genius. They manage to reference The Warriors, Die Hard, John Woo’s earlier films, Buddy cop films, zombie movies and anything post apocalyptic. It is truly something special.
The kicker for me is Senior Chang, played by the always hilarious Ken Jeong, and his insistence to be allowed to participate in the game, even though he is a member of the faculty. He even goes on record that he is a serious paintball player, you know, one of those douce bags that brings there own gear to the games. Reluctantly the dean enrolls him in a media studies class and Chang is sent to take down the two remaining players, Jeff and Britta. The following sequence is nothing short of perfect with Chang doing his best Chow Yun Fat impression and laying waste to the study room. His move of throwing down his automatic gun and producing two gold plated hand held paint guns is worth watching this episode for.
There is much more to this episode then I can go into detail with here. Just let me state again for the record that Community is one of the smartest and funniest shows on TV right now and this episode will go down as a high water mark for the year in television. It is rare that a show can manage to parody as many different movies as this show did in such a short span and do it with such confidence that you know the writers knew what they were trying to achieve. And boy did they ever.