Dan Harmon

‘Community’ Season 5 Episode 10 Recap: “Advanced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons”

PERSONAL CONFESSION ALERT: I’m a pretty nerdy fellow, but I don’t get Dungeons & Dragons. This puts me rather at odds with Dan Harmon, who fucking loves him some Dungeons & Dragons. He put the role-playing game at the center of the season two Community episode “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons,” and plays a round of it on pretty much every episode of his Harmontown podcast. I usually fast-forward through that part of the show, because for all of the subversion and dick jokes, it’s basically a bunch of people in a self-perpetuating fantasy, awkwardly announcing “I cast the spell of the Sacred Funyon” or whatever, and I got a lotta podcasts to listen to, dude. … Read More

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‘Community’ Season 5 Episode 9 Recap: “VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing”

Community is about as dialogue-heavy and joke-dense as any comedy on television, but sometimes, they earn their richest laughs by saying nothing at all. Two of the best moments in last night’s very good “VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing” were pauses, perfectly timed and beautifully executed: the Dean’s deep and rather frightened breath before running out of the study room following a fierce and angry freestyle rap in a Payday candy bar costume, and the looooooong moment of Annie, Abed, Annie’s brother Anthony, and Abed’s girlfriend Rachel just staring blankly at the television, trying to wrap their heads around the “Pile of Bullets” VHS game. If there’s been a longer pause on network television, I’m not aware of it—but the indulgence of that pause wonderfully summarizes the spirit of the show this season. Ah, what the hell, it seems to say. It’s not like we’re scaring any new viewers off! … Read More

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The Best and Worst Films of SXSW 2014

The conference portion of the SXSW Film Festival has drawn to a close (though films will continue to run through the weekend), so alas, your film editor’s time in the lovely city of Austin is just about over. This year’s was an intriguing and entertaining slate, lacking the kind of breakout hits I’ve seen here in years past, but nonetheless filled with films that you’ll want to seek out in the weeks and months to come. Here’s a quick jaunt through the 15 movies I saw… Read More

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“I Hate Myself”: Dan Harmon on His Candid New Road Documentary ‘Harmontown’

AUSTIN, TX: One of these days, we’ll grow to understand that strange period a couple of years back when men were fired from their entertainment industry jobs, and responded by going out on tour. First came Conan O’Brien, whose Tonight Show ouster was followed by his “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television” Tour and an accompanying concert documentary, Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop; Charlie Sheen followed suit after his noisy departure from Two and a Half Men, though that disastrous tour went thankfully undocumented. And then there’s Dan Harmon, who threw himself into his Harmontown podcast after he was removed from Community, the television program he created. In January of last year, Harmon and his crew of misfits went on the road for a 20-city tour, playing clubs sparsely populated by comedy nerds, and documentarian Neil Berkeley came along. The result is Harmontown, a film that is far more complicated and entertaining than the fanboy home movie you might anticipate (and dread). … Read More

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‘Community’ Season 5 Episode 8 Recap: “App Development and Condiments”

When we take the long view of Community, what may be most interesting—and riskiest—about the show is its total inconsistency with regards to “realism.” The word is worth putting in quotes, since it’s such a loaded term when you’re talking about television or film or any of the performing arts; it’s all fake, even the works praised most highly for their naturalism. But there are shows whose proximity to a recognizable reality are closer than others; The Wire is more realistic than, say, The Blacklist. Yet Community won’t let you find your footing; they change up their reality on an almost weekly basis. … Read More

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‘Community’ Season 5 Episode 7 Recap: “Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality”

The question of how Community would get over the loss of Donald Glover has proven as all-consuming, for fans, as how it would function without Dan Harmon—though with much happier results. After an interminable month off the air for the Olympics, Community returned last night with the provocatively titled “Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality,” with… Read More

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‘Community’ Season 5 Episode 6 Recap: “Analysis of Cork-Based Networking”

Community’s fifth season has, thus far, spent much of its time taking care of old business. First order of said business was jump-starting the show in light of Dan Harmon’s return as show-runner; we had to tie up the loose ends, explain the speed-bumps of the “gas leak year,” and most importantly, establish that the show could be great again. Once that was done, there was the matter of departures: first a proper send-off for the already-absent Chevy Chase, and then last week’s epic farewell to Donald Glover. Now that all of that is out of the way, this week’s episode, “Analysis of Cork-Based Networking,” merely has the job of being a good, solid episode of Community—and our first real look at what that show will be from here on out. … Read More

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‘Community’ Season 5 Episode 5 Recap: “Geothermal Escapism”

There are two types of episodes that Community does particularly well, though they seem direct contradictions of each other. The first is tightly focused, character-and-dialogue driven stories—bottle episodes, a bit of television terminology that the show itself made common knowledge in season two’s “Collective Calligraphy.” For all their narrative complexity, “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons” and “Paradigms of Human Memory” would also fall into that category, as would last week’s excellent “Cooperative Polygraphy.” And at the other end of the spectrum are the big, high concept, gimmick episodes, wherein character and emotion are smuggled in underneath spoofs of genre tropes. The multiple paintball episodes are the most obvious examples; the Ken Burns-influenced “Pillows and Blankets” and Law & Order-styled “Basic Lupine Urology” also leap to mind. But no stunt episode had as heavy an emotional burden as last night’s farewell to Troy Barnes, “Geothermal Escapism,” which makes the show’s dual success as comedy and drama all the more remarkable. … Read More

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‘Community’ Season 5 Episode 4 Recap: “Cooperative Polygraphy”

Those lucky enough to get screeners for last night’s Community had been hyping it in a big, albeit spoiler-free, way for weeks before it aired. So going into “Cooperative Polygraphy,” I was expecting something big: yet another paintball free-for-all, maybe, or one of the hyper-specific parodies that’s become one of the show’s specialties. But this episode is the perfect counterpoint to last week’s showy take on the David Fincher crime flick. Where “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics” completely altered the look of the show to fit another filmmaker’s aesthetic, “Cooperative Polygraphy” strips Community down to its bare minimum, leaving a group dynamic that’s unmistakably the brainchild of Dan Harmon. Despite taking place entirely in the study room, “Cooperative Polygraphy” never feels claustrophobic. The tangled relationships between these characters and their near-infinite comic potential are all Community needs to land its funniest, most effective installment yet of Harmon 2.0. … Read More

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‘Community’ Season 5 Episode 3 Recap: “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics”

An old, familiar feeling crept into the bones of this Community fan during last night’s episode, “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics.” The premise is simple: a spoof of the David Fincher playbook (Seven and Zodiac, specifically), with moody photography, constant rain, bright flashlights, and muted color saturation illustrating the investigation of a serial criminal on the Greendale campus. The twist is that the evil-doer is the “Ass Crack Bandit,” who drops quarters into posteriors. It’s a technically well-executed episode, with the stylistic parody elements on point and the cast going through their familiar paces. But it’s also kind of a Xerox of the third season’s inspired Law & Order spoof, and like most Xeroxes, it’s not as sharp as the original. And that’s when I got that unfortunate shudder: this was like watching season four again. … Read More

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