Tuesday, April 17, 2012

50 Reasons Community is Better than Star Trek: The Next Generation

In recognition of Community's recent nomination for a Hugo, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate the series as more than merely exceptional television: I wanted to recognize it as science fiction.

That the episode nominated belongs in the genre is self-evident, but I believe the truth goes deeper: I believe that, in its entirety, the series is a work of science fiction. I have a lucid and in-depth argument to back up that claim, but I don't feel like going into that now. Or possibly ever.

Instead, I wanted to do something more inline with internet norms and create animosity and strife where none is called for. With that in mind, I've prepared a brief list demonstrating why Community is a better show than the other series I recently watched, a series which exists - as far as I can tell - primarily to have people point out how much better other SF series are.

I refer, of course, to Star Trek: The Next Generation. Sure, Next Gen has a great cast and at least half a dozen episodes so good you forget you're watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, but overall... it's not exactly the high point of geek culture.

With that in mind, here are 50 reasons that Community is better than Star Trek: The Next Generation:
  1. Given a phase inverter, Troy could easily realign a tangled warp coil, but there's no way in hell LaForge could have transformed the library sprinkler system in time with the tools Troy had available.
  2. In seven seasons on Next Gen, LeVar Burton never once sang the Reading Rainbow song.
  3. Winger is 25% less sleazy than Riker.
  4. Community's study group didn't need Wesley Crusher to save their asses every other episode for the first season.
  5. No TOS alum ever did anything for the Kevins of the world on Next Gen.
  6. Community has had more war episodes in three seasons than Next Gen can claim in seven.
  7. KFC makes a more interesting space ship than the United Federation of Planets.
  8. I don't think I can stomach one more idiotic hand of poker played by the Enterprise bridge crew, but I could watch Advanced Dungeons & Dragons at least a hundred more times without losing interest.
  9. Community's smugness is concentrated into a single character, rather than permeating the entire goddamn series.
  10. Abed is a far better Data than Data ever was.
  11. Next Gen never had George Takei as a guest star.
  12. Let's keep score. Mirror-Verse episodes: Next Gen - 0. Community - at least 1.
  13. The technology behind the Holodeck is suspect; the Dreamatorium is above reproach.
  14. As villains, City College offers far more dramatic antagonists than the Romulans.
  15. The Borg are a decent substitute, but nothing beats genuine zombies.
  16. Community has already given the world three Christmas episodes: Next Gen never produced a single one.
  17. At least Dean Pelton is honest about his interest in Winger. It's obvious that every admiral in Star Fleet wants Picard: why the hell are they so repressed?
  18. The Enterprise has miles of crawl-ways and jefferies tubes winding throughout the ship. And not a single one houses a renegade monkey.
  19. There was a western-themed episode of Next Gen, but it wasn't a billionth as good as Fistful of Paintballs.
  20. If you're going to use one set for 60% of your shots, you might as well be honest about it.
  21. Klingons are overused, but the fly-dancers leave us wanting more.
  22. It's close, but Abed's movie where he's Jesus is even cooler than Data's ode to his cat.
  23. Data's cat is named "Spot". Troy's monkey is named "Annie's Boobs".
  24. In seven years, Next Gen has offered thousands of "explanations" for how various pieces of technology functioned. And not a single one of these is as scientifically plausible as the pretend multiverse portal designed by the study group's Model UN to visit the pretend parallel Earth housing a rival Model UN.
  25. The bridge crew can put on as many goddamn plays as they want: none will ever be 100th as memorable as "Troy and Abed in the Morning."
  26. The alien worlds are always underwhelming. The blanket fort is awe-inspiring.
  27. The study group didn't need a McGuffin to save their school: they did it with blood, sweat, and paintballs.
  28. Annie has more organizational skill than the entire bridge crew combined.
  29. Batman never appears in a single episode of Next Gen.
  30. None of the seedy alien bars the bridge crew visits can hold a candle to Fort Hawthorne.
  31. Han Solo never shows up in Next Gen (or any iteration of Star Trek, for that matter), but Abed's portrayal in For a Few Paintballs More totally counts.
  32. Anbo-Jitsu is stupid; foosball is awesome.
  33. Due to ceiling constraints, you could never generate a satisfactory trampoline in the holodeck.
  34. This one probably goes without saying, but there wasn't a single stop-motion episode of Next Gen. Actually, I don't think there was any stop-motion used in the show, period. And it really could have benefited from some more interesting aliens.
  35. Actions have consequences in Community.
  36. Next Gen has no shortage of time anomalies. In fact, it feels like every other episode revolves a temporal anomaly. But no one on that show is cool enough to predict the future based on observed behavior.
  37. Community is enlightened enough to know that not every black woman over the age of 50 is a cosmic mentor. Sorry, Guinan.
  38. All of Riker's weird dates are creepy. Abed's weird date with Robin was sweet.
  39. Picard and Riker's fathers gave them neuroses, but Andre Bennett's father gave him that sweater.
  40. Despite precedent laid down by the original series, Next Gen never spun off into an animated series. Community, on the other hand, gave us this.
  41. Abed's alien costume from the season 2 Halloween episode is cooler than any alien suits or makeup in the entirety of Next Gen.
  42. Next Gen had dozens of bottle-episodes. And not one puppy parade.
  43. The children on Next Gen always speak in stilted dialogue and are poorly directed. In contrast, the Changlorious Bastards were awesome.
  44. While neither should be licensed, I think I'd feel better getting psychoanalyzed by Britta than by Diana Troy. Sure, Britta has issues, but at least she's capable of learning from her mistakes. After seven seasons of psychic attacks and strange aliens communicating through dreams, Diana still assumes every time someone reports experiencing something weird, it's all in their head.
  45. Both Next Gen and Community start with three major female characters, but all of Community's survive to season 2.
  46. The outfits. Sure, the Starfleet uniforms are pretty cool, but when they're off duty, the crew of the Enterprise wears things made from curtains. Really, really ugly curtains. And that's a hell of a lot better than what most alien cultures wear.
  47. The study group saved Greendale. The Federation deteriorated the fabric of space with warp fields.
  48. Common sense and human decency: the Greendale study group has never taken children into space.
  49. The Federation has a flag, but it isn't memorable. The Greendale Community College flag: definitely memorable.
  50. Community handles its homages with panache. On Next Gen, they're just really, really bizarre.

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