Monday, August 09, 2010

30 Day TV Challenge - Day 3: "9/11 was pretty much the 9/11 of the falafel market."

(This one's a lot shorter, friends -- I spent most of the day completely revamping our living room. New furniture is awesome.)

3. Your favorite new show (that aired this television season).
"Turns out my law degree was not legitimate."
"I thought you had a Bachelor's from Columbia."
"Now I need to get one from America. And it can't be an email attachment."

This was my original pick for day two, but realized then I'd need to write about it two days in a row. So, Leverage got the bump yesterday, and I can give what is easily my favorite new show, Community, the spotlight it deserves.

What can one say about a show as brilliant as Community, that doesn't simply boil down to "You have to watch this show"? It's hilarious, it's poignant, it's smart, it's the most self-reflexive and self-referential program to hit the air since Arrested Development, the cast is spectacular, and it's instantly memorable and forever quotable. And -- I said it once before, but it bears repeating -- it is riotously funny. Even the pilot is a work of beauty, and the episode "Modern Warfare" (pictured above) might be the funniest half-hour of television in the last decade.

Again, it's a simple premise -- a Breakfast Club-style gang of misfits form a Spanish study group at a local community college -- that bears unbelievably deep rewards. Most shows this funny don't bother with engaging the audience emotionally; when they do, it can come off as manipulative, pretentious or even disingenuous. Not Community, which connects you with its characters, despite how ridiculous and far-fetched they might seem on the surface. Even Chevy Chase -- perhaps the personification of impenetrable smugness and distance -- is (something of) a sympathetic guy, despite how cruel and vain he is most of the time?

Of course, I can already see the premature cancellation in the distance: last season, it spent most of its run scheduled against Glee (masterfully skewered in "Modern Warfare," as the gang annihilates the glee club with paintballs); next season, CBS has shifted The Big Bang Theory to take it down. But as long as it's on the air, I'll stick around.

In conclusion: You have to watch this show.

(Also considered for this prompt: Cougar Town. Forget the idiotic title and the first half-dozen or so episodes; once they get bored with the whole "cougar" concept, it becomes a brilliantly funny show.)

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