While the first season of Community was good, the second season was verging on sublime. The show raises the art of the spoof to art form, making almost every episode an exquisitely crafted collection of references to every type of genre and trope that film and television have to offer. I had a quick look through the episode list for the season to see if I could pull out a highlight and found myself amazed all over again at the breadth of subjects covered. The whole series is like a love letter to television and film. I usually don’t like spoofs because I feel they’re mocking their targets, but the writers of Community manage to pick the subjects apart with such respect and care that they can’t be anything other than fans themselves.
Even my quibbles of the first season have been addressed a bit. Shirley developed a little more backbone to alleviate her simpering and the writers took the bold choice of actually making Pierce MORE unlikeable and having the group gradually treat him more like the enemy than a member. Each of the other characters has just enough development to sustain them, while not overdoing it so that they become useless for the comedy. Every character and combination gets a chance to shine, even the phenomenally annoying Chang has moments of redemption scattered through the year.
Floating above all of this though is Abed, one of the most entertaining and best used characters on television at the moment. In my review of the first season I described him as a “media obsessed soothsayer… quietly manipulating everything around him” and he raises that to an art form this season, playing both narrator, audience voice, critic and deus ex machine all at the same time. He’s not infallible though, he still under (or over) estimates his peers and that’s an even greater treat for the audience.
This has turned into a very gushy review, but I really can’t think of much to criticise. No storyline outstayed its welcome, every character had their moment and not a single moment went by without something that I either laughed or smiled knowingly at. Community is one of the smartest things on television at the moment, and is more satisfying by far than the majority of dramas out there.