Willing to Belong – Pierce Hawthorne’s Last Offering


Community is often criticized for choosing laughs over its characters who lack soul and emotional stakes because they are said to be caricatures existing only to smirk at the audience through the camera lens. This week’s offering, “Cooperative Polygraphy”, squashes this criticism by delivering a character-centred episode of hilarity, depth and heart.

It’s an episode that couldn’t exist without the foundation built from the first three seasons (I refuse to consider season 4 in this discussion). For me the most interesting episodes of Community involve the exploration of the bonds formed by the seven member study group. The friendships formed between Jeff, Annie, Abed, Troy, Shirley, Britta and Pierce are as real as anything on television (camera winking aside) and have often moved me to tears both happy and sad. “Cooperative Polygraphy” is a look into what happens to these bonds when one (or more) of the group members are taken away.  The group met at that cusp in their lives where your friends become family and the loss of a family member raises the emotional stakes to a higher place than Community has gone before. Pierce was the outsider of the study group, always looking in. He desperately wanted to be closer to the group but his meanness kept him on the periphery. Like most bullies his meanness masked vulnerability.  His insults provided many moments of humour but also revealed moments of pain. In Spanish 101 when Jeff bails on their Spanish assignment the way in which Pierce shrinks into himself when Jeff leaves the room reveals an achingly lonely man in need of a friend. He plays a “type” to be sure, but what Community does so well is reveal the layers and complexities within that “type”. Everyone in the study group plays a “type”. It’s creates a dynamic that is immediately relatable but deceivingly complicated. Because Pierce was on the outside he was able to observe the group, taking stock of their deepest darkest secrets. It was a running gag that Pierce would use this information turn the group against each other. However, “Cooperative Polygraphy” reveals that Pierce was saving up some of these secrets and their revelation in tonight’s episode provides some of the shows funniest and most touching moments. Continue reading

How Community Saved Christmas

It no doubt means more to me than it does to you. It represents a return from an absence of depression. That’s sort of what TV has always done for me. A few Christmases ago, it was the worst Christmas ever. My forty watt bulb burnt out and my debit card was lost in the ample snowy tundra of northern Manitoba. As a result, my Xmas dinner was the last 4 eggs in my fridge. I watched in darkness – a uncompetitive pro basketball game. As it hovered in the minus forties outside, I was left muttering the words of some Dickensian miser. So by the time the next Christmas rolled around I vowed to have a buxom holiday affair. That fall roared out an artistically successful year of Community. Issues arose so I missed the first couple of episodes, but was keen enough to keep them on my clunky VHS tape. Then it struck me: miss every episode live but keep it on tape and then binge on Christmas Day. I had to work that 25th. No problem as “work” included giving away a pick up truck. It’s not really work to make sure that Tricia Mymko of Denare Beach Saskatchewan has a new F-150 and a story to go with it. That was the day the usual brutal December temperatures gave the town respite, as it was 0 degrees Celsius.

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Email Roundtable #33 – Spaced

This week on the roundtable we continue with our Fall Television Secret Santa. Katie gifted Kerri the British comedy from 1999, Spaced. Below is their conversation about the show.

SpacedKatie: Well Kerri, was I right or was I right? Daisy is the best.

Kerri: You were so, so, so right. Not only is Daisy the best character on Spaced but she’s also now one of my favourite female TV characters of all time. She’s right up there with Liz Lemon in my books.

Katie: And Peggy Olson!

Before we get too far into details, want to give a brief description of Spaced for our lovely readers?

Kerri: Spaced is a show about two friends, Tim Bisley (Simon Pegg) and Daisy Steiner (Jessica Hynes, nee Stevenson), that pretend to be a couple in order to rent a flat. Once they successfully rent the apartment, they find that it is populated by a hilarious mishmash of characters, like the constantly drunk building owner, Marsha, and the disturbed artist, Brian. The show plays around with genre convention and there are an abundance of pop-culture references.

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Email Roundtable #24 – Corn on the Cob Edition

Corn_on_the_cobWelcome back to our weekly Roundtable, friends! We have been a bit slackerly over the  past few months with these Roundtables (it is summertime with vacations, the lake and other wonderful distractions that aren’t TV related, after all) but here we are, back at it.

Kerri: Katie thought it would be a good time to discuss summer TV past and present. So, I suppose we should start by discussing what some of our favorite summer shows have been over the years and what makes for a good summer show.

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Community: #3SeasonsandSomeOtherStuff


It was just revealed (to the surprise of many) that Community would be renewed for a 5th season. For me this news was a huge disappointment  After creator and show runner Dan Harmon left at the end of Season 3, Community has become a watered down version of a once great half hour of television. Seasons 1 – 3 of Community were not always perfect but they were consistently ambitious, wildly imaginative and most importantly, they had heart. Continue reading

Email Roundtable #21 – No One Likes the Monkey


Kerri: In your estimation has there ever been a good use of pets/animals on TV? Most of the TV pets that I can think of are used strictly as comic relief. Who is your favourite TV pet?

Katie: I can’t think of a pet that has been used for plot purposes, other than teaching kids about death (and teaching parents not to try to replace their child’s dead hamster. They always know.) My favourite TV pet is a pretty obvious choice, but it has to be Eddie from Frasier. That was just such an all around good dog.

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Email Roundtable #18 – Location, Location, Location

abandoned house

The living room on The Simpsons, Cheers the bar, Baltimore on The Wire. Settings are important on any television show. In this edition of the Email Roundtable we attempt to discuss different kinds of television settings. And because I think this is awfully cool and somewhat relevant there’s this

What is the television setting you find the most comforting/would like to live in?: 

Kerri: This one was actually the most difficult for me to figure out. I decided to think about the shows that I find most comforting and work from there. My comfort show is always Freaks and Geeks and I thought about talking about the Weir’s house which is sort of cave-like, with earth-tones and looks a lot like the childhood home that I and a lot of my friends grew up in. Continue reading