TITLE: COMMUNITY - THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
Release Date: September 21, 2010 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 25
Running Time: 535 minutes
Running Time of Features: approx. 90 minutes (excluding commentaries)
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound English
Subtitles and Captioning: English Subtitles
Special Features: Commentaries (every episode); Outtakes; “Creative Compromises” featurette; “Season One Cast Evaluations” featurette; Highlight reel; Season One Mini Episodes; Extended episodes and alternate scenes
What is a guy to do when he has a law degree and appears to be on top of the world? Well, if you are Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) and your lies about your transcripts are uncovered, you end up back in college. It only gets worse, though, because Jeff doesn’t end up at a real university, but instead ends up at Greendale Community College, where he forms a study group with the biggest group of misfits out there. There’s Britta (Gillian Jacobs), the girl he has a crush on; Pierce (Chevy Chase), the creepy older guy that you see on every college campus; film student Abed (Danny Pudi); Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown), the single mother trying to get her life in focus; former high school quarterback Troy (Donald Glover); and nerd Annie (Alison Brie), who knew Troy in high school and has a crush on him.
The four disc set from Sony contains all of the first 25 episodes in their unedited format, along with plenty of bonus features.
The series kicks off with the “Pilot” episode, where Jeff decides to form a study group of misfits, and it somehow becomes a little different than what he envisioned. Jeff gets teamed up with Pierce for a Spanish project in “Spanish 101,” which is not what Jeff wants at all. One of the members is suspected of cheating on an exam in “Advanced Criminal Law.” Jeff has found the woman that he has the hots for in “Introduction to Statistics,” but she is also one of his teachers.
Britta tries to rid Jeff of his materialistic ways in “Home Economics,” but who seriously believes that is ever going to happen? Pierce and Jeff are preparing for the Greendale STD Fair in “The Politics of Human Sexuality.” Anthony Michael Hall guest stars as the school bully in the Christmas episode “Comparative Religion.”
Jeff is torn between two women on Valentine’s Day in “Communication Studies.” In “Basic Genealogy,” it is Family Day at Greendale, and Jeff falls for Pierce’s stepdaughter (Katharine McPhee). The gang wants an easy A and tries to get the right courses to achieve just that in “Beginner Pottery.”
It’s April Fool’s Day with cadavers in “The Science of Illusion.” There is a chicken finger shortage in “Contemporary American Poultry,” and Jeff and Troy are determined to cluck-cluck their way to the bottom of it. Pierce and Shirley are at odds with one another (you knew it was coming) in “The Art of Discourse,” and their rift could split up the study group. An epic paintball war ensues in “Modern Warfare.” Spanish teacher Señor Chang has been making everybody miserable the entire year, but it is discovered that he doesn’t even have a college degree in “English as a Second Language.” Oops. The season ends with “Pascal’s Triangle Revisited,” where Jeff finds himself at the apex of a romantic triangle.
All of the episodes on the set are unedited and presented as they originally aired (with the exception of the “Pilot” episode, which is presented as an extended cut rather than as the broadcast version) as far as I can tell. All music appears to be intact as well. Runtimes are as follows:
Spanish 101 (21:22)
Introduction to Film (21:20)
Social Psychology (21:20)
Advanced Criminal Law (21:21)
Football, Feminism, and You (21:22)
Introduction to Statistics (21:20)
Home Economics (21:19)
Debate 109 (21:19)
Environmental Science (21:21)
The Politics of Human Sexuality (21:20)
Comparative Religion (21:19)
Investigative Journalism (21:17)
Interpretive Dance (20:45)
Romantic Expressionism (21:20)
Communication Studies (21:13)
Physical Education (21:21)
Basic Genealogy (20:59)
Beginner Pottery (21:20)
The Science of Illusion (20:52)
Contemporary American Poultry (21:19)
The Art of Discourse (21:20)
Modern Warfare (21:03)
English as a Second Language (21:18)
Pascal’s Triangle Revisited (21:20)
Sony did a very good job on the packaging of this set, making the entire set appear to resemble a yearbook. The cover art has pictures of all of the primary cast members with their character names below their headshots, with each of the characters having their own autograph on their picture that describes their personality in their own way. The back of the outer package has several episode snapshots and basic information about the series.
Inside, there are two slimcases containing two discs each--a definite departure from Sony’s usual (as of late) Viva pack cases. Both of these cases also resemble yearbook pages and have even more autographs from the characters throughout. There are even “crib notes” scribbled on the episode guides that are on the back of each case. They did very well on the theme here! The disc artwork includes snapshots from the episodes on what appears to be a sheet of notebook paper. Disc 1 contains episodes 1-7, Disc 2 contains episodes 8-13, Disc 3 contains episodes 14-19, and Disc 4 contains episodes 20-25.
There is also a nice little mini-comic book included in the set, issue #1 of Kickpuncher, written by the character Troy. It is a nice supplement to include in the set.
Menu Design and Navigation:
The menus are very nicely done, with the opening credits playing in the background on the main menu (sans any titles) with options of Play All Episodes, Episode Selections, Subtitles, and Special Features. All of the options are self-explanatory. Episode Selections takes you to a list of episodes (with no pictures, which is actually unusual for Sony) and Subtitles lets you turn on the English SDH subtitles. The submenus have no special effects at all. Chapters are placed appropriately throughout each episode.
Video and Audio Quality:
The video and audio quality on the set is very impressive, although it is a SLIGHT bit disappointing to not see the true high-definition quality picture that I am accustomed to seeing on NBC (why didn’t Sony do a Blu-ray release for this set?). Still, the upconverted video is presented in the original aspect ratio (1.78:1) and looks very nice, and the image quality is still very sharp and vivid. The audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound (except on special features, presented in 2.0), and is very loud and clear, though again, not necessarily over-the-top spectacular. English subtitles are available on all of the episodes, but the episodes are not closed-captioned.
This set is literally LOADED with special features! The first thing that you’ll find on the set is commentaries. But the commentaries aren’t just on a few episodes, they can be found on every single episode on the set! Episodes and commentators are as follows:
Pilot – Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Anthony Russo, and Joe Russo
Spanish 101 – Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Chevy Chase, and Joe Russo
Introduction to Film – Dan Harmon, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, and Donald Glover
Social Psychology – Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Anthony Russo
Advanced Criminal Law – Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, and Andrew Guest
Football, Feminism, and You – Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Donald Glover, and Joe Russo
Introduction to Statistics – Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Chevy Chase, and Joe Russo
Home Economics – Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Danny Pudi, and Lauren Pomerantz
Debate 109 – Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Alison Brie, and Joe Russo
Environmental Science – Dan Harmon, Gillian Jacobs, Donald Glover, Ken Jeong
The Politics of Human Sexuality – Dan Harmon, Alison Brie, Donald Glover, and Hilary Winston
Comparative Religion – Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Adam Davidson
Investigative Journalism – Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Alison Brie, and Joe Russo
Interpretive Dance – Dan Harmon, Gillian Jacobs, and Danny Pudi
Romantic Expressionism – Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Donald Glover, Joe Russo, and Andrew Guest
Communication Studies – Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, and Chris McKenna
Physical Education – Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Danny Pudi, and Anthony Russo
Basic Genealogy – Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Yvette Nicole Brown, Chevy Chase, and Karey Dornetto
Beginner Pottery – Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Hilary Winston
The Science of Illusion – Dan Harmon, Gillian Jacobs, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Adam Davidson
Contemporary American Poultry – Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, and Danny Pudi
The Art of Discourse – Dan Harmon, Danny Pudi, Donald Glover, Adam Davidson, and Chris McKenna
Modern Warfare – Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, and Emily Cutler
English as a Second Language – Dan Harmon, Alison Brie, Donald Glover, and Ken Jeong
Pascal’s Triangle Revisited – Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Donald Glover, Joe Russo, and Hilary Winston
The commentaries have much more depth than I expected, and the ones that I listened to (I didn’t have time to listen to all of them) were very thorough and included a lot of insightful information.
The commentaries are far from the only special feature on the set, though. Each disc also contains selected outtakes from the episodes on the disc, which can be found on the Special Features menu. This lasts 6 minutes and 38 seconds on Disc 1, 8 minutes and 9 seconds on Disc 2, 10 minutes and 27 seconds on Disc 3, and 8 minutes and 5 seconds on Disc 4. They are all pretty standard outtakes, but as always, fun to watch.
Next we have the featurettes “Creative Compromises” (2:51) and “Season 1 Cast Evaluations” (11:52) on Disc 1, which have been specially created as humorous featurettes. In “Creative Compromises,” Dan Harmon talks about a compromise that he had to supposedly make to make the series more palatable for network TV. Honestly, it isn’t that great of a featurette. “Season 1 Cast Evaluations,” however, is much better, where Dan Harmon interviews each of the cast members to reflect upon the season. Not all of it can be taken seriously, as it is obviously scripted, but that makes it even more interesting. This featurette also includes audition footage for the cast members.
Disc 2 has three mini episodes taken from the NBC website from the episode, featuring different “study breaks” where the cast takes a scheduled 90 second study break, and we see the (often dumb) things that happen during the break. Still, dumb as they may be, they are fun to watch. They include “Stop Using Your Brain” (1:31), “Truth or Dare” (1:31), and “Generation Gap” (1:30).
“Season One Highlight Reel” (5:05), also on Disc 2, is a reel that takes you through the entire first season in just five minutes. It basically shows all of the best moments of the first season, although it is somewhat pointless since you have all of the episodes on the set anyway.
For those who are interested in seeing “more than intended,” Disc 1 also contains the extended cut of the pilot (25:29) and some alternate scenes featuring Chevy Chase for the episode “Advanced Criminal Law” (3:57). Additionally, Disc 3 contains the extended producer’s the episode “Communication Studies” (26:32) in addition to the aired version of the episode (the aired version of the pilot, however, is not included at all).
This series has made a nice debut on DVD, although I do have one major question: why did Sony NOT do a Blu-ray for this series? Many current series being released have been receiving Blu-ray treatment, yet a series from Sony (the inventor of Blu-ray) is not being released on Blu-ray? It makes no sense. Still, that shouldn’t take away from the quality of this DVD set. The episodes look the best that they can for a DVD and they did a nice job with the special features on the set. The packaging is very nice too, and doesn’t resemble many of the poor jobs that have been done on packaging for other Sony series recently at all. I just hope that any further releases of this series on DVD are done as well as this one, assuming that the study group stays in community college for more than the standard two years (which it seems pretty clear that they will).
Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)
Video Quality: 4.5/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 4.5/5
Menu Design/Navigation: 5/5
Overall Score: 4.5/5
-- Reviewed by skees53 on 09/24/10
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