There’s a slightly amusing interview from Zap2it with Gillian Jacobs who plays Britta on Community which got me thinking about Season 2 as a whole, and the (only slight) problems I had with it.
She takes slight offence (albeit somewhat mockingly) to the Britta being referred to as “strident”… she prefers “opinionated”. I would have thought it was a fairly accurate description though. Not that that’s a bad thing though, her character certainly adds a great deal to the show, unlike Chevy Chase’s Pierce.
For anyone who’s seen Season 2, they’d know that it was almost single-handedly ruined by the presence of Pierce. Now, I’m not coming at this from a show fanboy perspective, as in, “I hate Roy being on the show because he’s keeping Jim and Pam from getting together”, to use an old, The Office example. I’m talking about the way that he has become more of an antagonist than ever, creating unnecessary, annoying subplots to episodes which would have been fine as they were. Take the “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” episode, in which a perfectly fine idea of an imaginary game of D&D was played out to boost the self-esteem of fellow student Neil (it makes more sense if you watch it), was ruined by way of Pierce’s sniping. Again, in the “Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking” episode, he was manipulative and conniving. Now again, I don’t mind so much the idea of him playing an antagonist of sorts, like he was in the first season (where he was pretty much just a bumbling, politically incorrect old man, who didn’t know any better), but for mine, he has shifted the focus of the show and he seems to constantly derail plot-lines. It has created a problem for both the characters on the show (should the keep in the study group or not?) and the writers (should they make him more docile and forget all this character “development” or play up his role as villain?) which hopefully is resolved in Season 3.
I found it interesting that at the beginning of the season, Chang was pegged at being a potential problem for the show (he no longer was a teacher, so he lost all of his power, and consequentially, any kind of gravitas or importance on-screen). It seemed he would become an annoying, insane presence on the show, who constantly wanted to join the study group. And it was quite admirable how the writers handled it, they introduced the Shirley baby-plot to make him appear more human, and his other appearances were inserted sparingly.
She also states; “I don’t know what’s left”, in terms of weird plot-lines for the show (they’ve done zombies, space, etc.), and that might indeed be a good thing. While the big, flashy episodes may garner a small amount of publicity, it relies too heavily on them and would appear gimmicky to newcomers. A return to Season 1’s more understated “big” episodes would be welcome (“Contemporary American Poultry”, for example).
And a word on the finale; yes it was good, but it could never top “Modern Warfare”, no matter how many big-name guest stars (Josh Holloway, Busy Phillips, Dan Byrd) were shoved into it, no matter how long and overblown it was (a two-parter stretched across two weeks, no less), no matter how many shows it tried to reference (Star Wars, spaghetti Westerns, etc.), no matter how many “surprise” kisses were thrown in (I won’t spoil it), no matter how high the stakes were… It just couldn’t. But I reiterate, it was good, it was great even, but it couldn’t top the first, and it seemed endemic of the writer’s desire to top Season 1 by recreating the “best” parts of Season 1 and multiplying it by a billion. The best part about Season 1 was that it seemed different to everything else on the box at the time (and as it turned out, it was), Season 2 should have seemed different to Season 1, is all.
[And just a word on the Josh Holloway, Busy Phillips and Dan Byrd appearances. I know the show is supposed to be meta, or meta on top of meta on top of meta, or whatever, but the fact that Abed referenced Lost in “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas”, then one of the central stars happens to show up on campus the next year… seems kind of strange. At least, if everyone assumes that he is a Holloway lookalike, there could at least be a sly mention of it. I’m happy to let the Cougar Town stars’ appearances slide, as even though Abed spoke incessantly about it in “Critical Film Studies”, he may not have seen these two celebs who have made their way into the crowd. Nit-picky? Narrh…]