Community: Advanced Dungeons and Dragons

"What they couldn't have known was they had just scheduled the most important game of Dungeons and Dragons ever; a game which not only might save a life, but which would forever change the balance between good and Pierce."

After a pair of unremarkable episodes, Community is back on form with the best episode of season two so far.

In my review of ‘Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas’ I speculated what it would’ve been like to have seen the episode from the other characters’ non-stop motion perspectives. Well, that’s pretty much what ‘Advanced Dungeons and Dragons’ is. This is what that episode would’ve looked like if the show hadn't been able to afford all that fancy animation.

But ‘Advanced Dungeons and Dragons’ is so much more than just the flip side to ‘Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas’. Thanks to a mixture of clever filming and great use of sound effects, we become just as immersed in the group’s quest as they do. They might never leave the confines of the study room, but you really feel like these guys have been on an adventure.

It is also a better bottle episode than the show’s episode about bottle episodes. The previous one was just an excuse to lock everyone up and have them yell at each other and take their clothes off. This episode has a story to tell. This time the group had a mission, a purpose, a quest. They had to save Neil and defeat the evil Pierce the Insensitive, also known as Pierce the Dickish and Grandpa Flatulent.

Pierce really sunk to a new low here. His treatment of Neil was simply cruel. I have a hard time believing the rest of the gang would still be friends with him after this. Then again, I still have a hard time they are friends with him at all. But Pierce's loathsome behaviour did have a positive effect. Without him this would've just been a very boring game of Dungeons and Dragons. Pierce raised the stakes by giving the group a despicable enemy to fight. Vanquishing him gave Neil the confidence boost he needed most.

Notes and Quotes

--While he was no doubt motivated by guilt for coining 'Fat Neil' in the first place, it was still nice to see Jeff deciding to help Neil without being pushed into it by Annie the Day Planner or Britta the Needlessly Defiant. As Pierce falls, Jeff rises.

--Considering that she never even so much as saw a penis until last year, I'd love to know what exactly Annie is describing to cause Shirley to make this face:


--The cast were all excellent in this episode, but I have to give a gold star acting to Danny Pudi who practically stole the show. Britta wasn't the only one shedding a tear for Kyle, the gnome waiter.

Shirley: "Hello, I am a dwarf by the name of... Zippity Do."
Abed: "Okay, I'm not the best at making up names."
Jeff: "I am... Marrrrrrrrr. Boy, you weren't kidding."

Annie: "I'm... ew, Hector the well-endowed? Abed!"
Abed: "I didn't know you'd pick one at random. I made that one with Troy in mind."

Britta: "I want to know why these goblins are attacking us. Maybe these woods are their rightful land and respectively..."

Narrator: "At the end of the meeting they realized that Chang had been there, and felt too awkward to mention it."

Four our of four popular fantasy role-playing games.
---
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

4 comments:

Josie Kafka said...

Great review, Mark!

This was the first episode of Community that I ever saw. It was a delightful introduction to the wackiness of the show, and I still remember it quite fondly.

ChrisB said...

This is one of my favorite episodes of all. Wonderful moments and character beats and just plain fun to watch.

Juliette said...

This might be the best episode Community's done. Though that would leave out Modern Warfare and Remedial Chaos Theory...

This is the episode that my brother showed me to get me into the show. It worked! :)

sunbunny said...

I like "Cooperative Calligraphy" more than this, but this is a good episode. Like you, Mark, I really like the remorse Jeff showed at hurting another person so completely. His determination to save Neil from suicide is really quite touching. This episode manages to combine some real emotion with some really silly (and awesome) stuff. Marrrrrrrrr.