A strong return for the best comedy on TV. "Community" 2x1: "Anthropology 101" Also, here's a great excerpt from an interview with Dan Harmon at the A.V. Club. Here he talks about the aesthetic and emotional difference between single- and multi-camera shows, and what they tend to ask of viewers:
AVC: A lot of shows like Community—30 Rock, Arrested Development, these kind of movie-style, single-camera comedies—struggle in the ratings. They’re great shows, but they’re shows that people seem to catch up with on DVD. Why do you think that is?
DH: I can speculate as to why it is. I think the answer is somewhere in primatology. We are really, really, really most comfortable feeling like we’re hanging out with about a hundred or so people, experiencing something with them, and it’s just the most comfortable thing in the world to watch a sitcom, a multi-camera one, to just slip your foot into this warm slipper that’s been molded to fit your foot after a hard day’s work. Going back to Jackie Gleason, we have that format down. That industry has now made a science out of finding the funniest, most charming people who can pull off that weird combination of Broadway performance and fourth-wall acting, even though they’re pausing for these gigantic laughs that you can hear. If you were describing it to a Martian it would sound absolutely insane, you would have no way of logically explaining why. But the answer is, it’s more comfortable. I can attest to it. I watch reruns of Seinfeld. I mean, it’s perfect. It’s just like drinking a nice cup of tea before bed. Maybe that’s a bad idea. It just feels appropriate and good.
I think that hearing people laugh at the end of a long, hard day, if you cut that out of your life… Some of us can afford to do that because our jobs aren’t as hard. And we get to think about TV for a living. We want more of a challenge. We value the TV actively, ever so slightly asking us to do a little bit of the work in our head. And I don’t want to slip into bagging on it like it’s a base craft, because obviously the good stuff is satisfying, richly satisfying to everybody. Smart people, dumb people, who cares. You’re going to catch more brains with this sort of thing that fundamentally has that going for it. It just makes people comfortable. Single-camera suggests to people that you’re a fly on the wall. You’re floating around in space; you’ve got to keep your eyes peeled for story and lessons and things. I wish there was a bigger secret to it, but I think we just like to howl at the moon with a hundred of our pack.