Community contains all the basic elements that I require from a show, but what makes it different? The debate episode was a turning point for me. I remember watching the episode, and thinking that there is no way that man in wheelchair is going to fling himself in the air, land in Jeff's arms, and win the debate. But he did fling himself through the air. This was not going to be your typical school ground sitcom.
Tuning in week-to-week is tremendously exciting with a show like Community. You truly never know what is coming around the corner. The most well-known episode from the first season is the epic paintball episode, Modern Warfare. Paintball and laser tag have been known to pop up on sitcoms from time to time, but an entire episode devoted to paying homage to action films, The Warriors, and Die Hard is unique. I've shown the episode to several people who don't regularly watch the show, and they still eat it up. For me, the real beauty of the episode is putting the characters we've grown to know into this ridiculous situation and seeing how they adapt to it. Also, in typical Community fashion, between all the hardcore paintball action is the final turning point for a relationship that climaxes in the finale. An episode like this, and the Goodfellas-inspired chicken fingers episode, became the model for a good hunk of season two. If these episodes were just retelling their sources with new characters, I'd find it incredibly unbearable; however, Dan Harmon always puts his characters first.
The characters are all flawed yet lovable and have developed a fiery, but too small, fanbase. The characters, thanks in large part to the actors, provide the creators incredible freedom to morph each week's episode into basically whatever seems inspiring at the time. This first season's middle batch of episodes was the most refreshing television I've witnessed in a long, long time even though it was devoid of any homage episodes. The meta aspect of the show, due to Abed's influence, allows the characters to recognize how they ought to behave in a normal sitcom, and then they instead go off in another direction. Going off in some odd direction always puts the writers in position to create a new character to play off the unprecedented situation. This is a reason why the show is so fresh, and why I don't tire of re-watching any of the season one episodes. One of the writers, who joined the team in season two, made the comment that this show is the sitcom for people who are tired of watching the same old sitcoms. One way to blow away your expectations is to pull out a Goodfellas episode, or a Modern Warfare. These grand homage episodes are what get the most chatter, but as with any show, it's always the connection you forge with the characters that keeps you coming back.
Community has a marvelous cast of characters, that make you want to go out and create your own adventures. Have you seen the craigslist ads? The mythology behind Star Wars and Community is about learning to grow up, how to find your bliss, and how to function properly in society. Star Wars is pretty clear on the heroes and villains. Community has a group in which each character has their heroic traits and their villainous traits - you'll probably find that you can relate to more than one character in many ways. The Community gang is full of dimension, contradiction. They are constantly growing and evolving, in ways much more real than most shows, despite the often absurd situations. It is a comedy, though I might not have represented that part of the show properly. For a sitcom, the humor is shocking, but not in a crude Tarantino way. This is a show that pride's itself on constantly upping the ante and simultaneously blowing your mind and melting your heart. That's why I loved the first season of Community. It's hilariously absurd and emotionally very real. A combination that it nails perfectly unlike any other.