The story behind the troubled production of Community has been as intriguing and dramatic as any plotline on television. The show saw the loss of its creator after the third season, faced cancellation after the fourth season, and then saw the triumphant return of Dan Harmon in season five to again take over the reins of the show. And once that season was done, the show was cancelled again, seemingly with no chances left. Except that it found an unlikely saviour in the form of Yahoo, which bought the rights to the show, and will be airing the sixth season of Community on its streaming video service, Yahoo Screen.
Yahoo Screen isn't available in India, but we've seen other Web broadcasts such as the Netflix exclusive House of Cards make it to Indian television, and so hoping that the same will happen for Community. If you're a self-professed geek living in the US, Europe or another territory where you can watch the show as soon as it goes on the air then you really must do. That's because Community is possibly the funniest, nerdiest show on the air - the only show that has handled nerd humour better than this was the British show The IT Crowd.
Funnily enough, Community's lead Joel McHale was supposed to be in the US remake of The IT Crowd, though what we saw of the failed pilot shows that even the best casting can't rescue a bad script.
The Big Bang Theory - which we actually enjoy at times - claims to be about geeks, but it's really more a collection of geek stereotypes pasted over old Friends scripts. Yes, it has some relatable moments like the ridiculous debates about pop culture, but for the most part, it feels more like a caricature of people like us. The realisation that you can have a large social circle and still have regular video game sessions seems to elude scriptwriters. Community on the other hand has always committed to the gags it is making, and then made them a part of the story it tells.
This has never been clearer than in the brilliant trailer for Season 6. You can check out the "Age of Yahoo" trailer below, but it manages to parody the trailer for Age of Ultron and also has a number of sight gags that seem to be referencing golden age television science fiction, virtual reality, telepresence robots, and even a Big Bang Theory reference. The scene where the dean is wearing what looks like a VR headset, and standing on an omnidirectional treadmill looks perfect, while the dialogues had us laughing the whole time.
At the other end of the spectrum was Digital Estate Planning, a season 3 episode that played almost entirely like an 8-bit video game. Logic and consistency were thrown out of the window for the writers and actors to just have fun with the concept, and the results were amazing. Some fans were so inspired that they even started work on making a 2D action platformer that is inspired by the game we saw in the show.
The show did a GI Joe episode, and it has frequently done gags where Abed is Batman, Indiana Jones, and Don Draper. And even if you've never watched an episode of the show before, the season 3 episode Remedial Chaos Theory is still funny and does a great job of explaining the idea behind Schroedinger's cat thought experiment. The season 5 episode App Development and Condiments, meanwhile, was a scathing look at the brave new world of social media apps, and managed to deliver half an hour of non-stop laughs without relying on any familiarity with either the subject of apps, or with the characters on the show.
Community's sense of pacing and humour lies in the middle ground between the pure nerd shows like The IT Crowd and the nerd caricature of Big Bang Theory. It doesn't patronise real geeks, but you won't be left feeling like half the jokes went over your head. And while there's an overall arc of character development, the episodes themselves are largely self-contained explorations of single concepts, so even if you haven't been watching the show before this, you can jump in now with season six and enjoy yourself. So do yourself a favour, and tune into the show if it's available in your region.