Community, the Video Game

I guess there’s no hug button.

Last night, NBC aired an unusual number of new episodes of Community, the final three of the season, and hopefully not the final three of the series. It’s a great show that hasn’t gotten enough recognition over the years, and as I recall the threat of cancellation loomed over it before this season began.

In the first of the three episodes, Pierce (played by Chevy Chase), finds out that his late father left a sizable inheritance, but the recipient would be the first person to win a custom-made video game using an avatar based on their likeness. The use of the video game was a final dig at Pierce who apparently thought video games were more important than what his father made his riches on – personal wiping cloths. This is made more interesting by the fact that Pierce is totally clueless about video games.

Pierce naturally invites along the rest of the study group, even before he knows what’s in store. In typical Community-style irony, they all sit down in personal, high-tech cubicles, only to be rendered as old-school video game characters in a pixelated world reminiscent of early Super Mario Brothers, but cross-bred with Oregon Trail with a dash of Prince of Persia version 1.0. Most of the episode is shown in this 8-bit universe as The Greendale 7 try to navigate through the levels with all of their usual quirks and personal interactions.

I was a super nerdy child of the 80s and this episode brought back a lot of memories of old games I used to play on my first computer – that is, my family’s first computer. Kids back then didn’t get their own electronic devices.

I really hope Community comes back in the fall. They’ve done an excellent job developing the core characters over the years and have always balanced humor, sentiment, and geekdom perfectly. I also hope the NBC website soon offers a version of the Journey to the Center of Hawkthorne game!

The beginning of the episode and a glimpse into the fun 80s era video game depicted in it are available here.

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