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March 25, 2011


My Dinner With "Community"

My Dinner With Andre

Have you been watching "Community"? The show about a bunch of oddball friends going to a community college, that has Joel McHale and Trudy from "Mad Men" and Chevy Chase in it?

This is now the funniest show that nobody seems to be watching. It's the only show I watch that regularly makes me think, "I can't believe someone's doing this on TV."

Last night's episode, "Critical Film Studies" [video], is a perfect example. It's set up like an extended reference to Tarantino movies, mostly Pulp Fiction and a little bit of Reservoir Dogs, and then suddenly about 2/3 of the way through, it turns out that the whole episode is a long-form My Dinner With André joke.

WHAT? Yes! The 1981 movie where Wallace Shawn and theater director André Gregory have dinner and talk about life and their various experiences in the world. It set the bar for later movies about people talking where nothing actually happens: there might not be Richard Linklater or some of the weirder Gus Van Sant movies without this movie.

But it's hardly the kind of thing you tend to see on a network sitcom at 8:00. Maybe this is why fewer than 5 million people watch it and NY Mag named it the best show last year. It's the weirdest thing on network TV.

categories: Movies, TV
posted by amy at 11:14 AM | #

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Two points:

Is Community always good? I saw two episodes on planes recently and thought it was kind of run of the mill, and that was when Jack Black was a hammy guest star. Though this sounds very good.

T-Roll (what else to call him?) was listening to some satellite radio talk show where they play movie quotes and you have be the first to call in and guess the movie the quote is from. One was something like "my favorite action figures are the ones from My Dinner With Andre. You can put them in all kinds of poses from the movie." Neither of us knew the movie, though since it was "Waiting for Guffman" I feel bad about that.

Posted by: T-Rock at March 29, 2011 1:21 PM

1) I don't watch it every week. Some episodes are really great, some are only OK, but all of them are weird.

2) That sounds like my kind of talk radio! But I wouldn't have gotten that quote, either, which I count as a personal flaw.

Posted by: amy at March 29, 2011 3:23 PM

Glad to see another Community fan! My friends in Chicago turned me on to it, and I bought the season one box set (am I the only one buying DVDs anymore??). It's very meta, and very 2010, but I love it.

The first season takes a few episodes to get in the groove (like any show really) but the last two thirds is great stuff, particularly the epic paintball episode (Modern Warfare), which is a fantastic homage to action movies in general, and Hong Kong action movies in particular. As a matter of fact, I even bought the box set for my brother when I visited him last week.

My friends in Chicago said that the second season has slumped considerably, but I still want to see it (we don't agree on everything, after all).

Posted by: Tim at March 29, 2011 6:46 PM

In case you need more convincing that Community is worth checking out:

This season's Episode 12, "Asian Population Studies", in which we meet Shirley's ex-husband, played by Malcolm Jamal Warner, aka Theo from The Cosby Show. He's wearing a crazily-patterned sweater. In the last scene, Joel McHale says to Theo, "Nice sweater." He replies, "Thanks, my dad gave it to me."


Posted by: amy at March 30, 2011 11:52 AM

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