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Community Review: "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons"

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I begin this review with the admission that I know not a single thing about Dungeons and Dragons, except that back in high school the nerdier kids, even nerdier than myself, used to get together in the back of the library surrounded by a mountain of D&D books and other sort of paraphernalia which I always found both odd and unsettling.

My lack of understanding of the game in no way, however, diminishes my love for what I believe is the episode that comes closest to trumping the pinnacle "paintball" episode, at least from my perspective. That's how much I loved "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons."

Although, I did, for a moment, mistake Chang for the X-Men hero Nightcrawler, I knew we were in for a classic based on  the narrator's description of each character alone:  Jeff the Liar, Son of William the Barely known; Annie, The Day Planner; Troy, The Obtuse; Shirley, The Cloying; Abed, The Undiagnosable; Britta, the Needlessly Defiant; and Pierce, The Insensitive, known also as Pierce, The Dickish and Grandfather Flatulent.

Dungeons & Dragons Book

At first, I thought that perhaps Jeff was wanting to help Neil because he was still on his mission, established during 'Asian Population Studies,' to become the perfect good guy so he could exploit the power.  It turns out he was attempting to atone for being a schmuck of a different sort, as the catalyst source of Neil's pain.

What a reveal that was. When everyone thought Pierce was the villain, it turned out Jeff had been the real villain the entire time.  I actually didn't see it coming.

Jeff is, or was, a lawyer, widely mocked as one of the most ironically askew professions in existence. He's used to getting by on his looks, being able to say anything he wants without consequence.  Since he's been with the group, he's come a long way towards developing a sense of humanity, yet still on occasions such as this, that old Jeff pops back up.  It's good to see, though, that he recognizes it and rather than sloughing it off as he would have in the past, he's now trying to make things right whenever possible.

After Pierce last week almost single-handedly destroyed Annie's play, and twisting the message within, I understood - to an extent - why he is the way his is because of the glimpse we had of the environment in which he was raised.  This week, though, he mortified me. Now I find myself aligning with the minds that inquire why Pierce is allowed to stay part of the group.

He's just plain awful. He doesn't get included, so he tries - and nearly succeeds - to ruin everyone else's fun? It made me cheer all the more along with Shirley, who jubilantly declared she'd waited for a moment like this, as Pierce's D&D character appeared to be left bloodied and helpless - "in the game."

I think I prefer Pierce when he's just grouchy and mildly offensive, not an abrasive brick being rubbed back and forth across my forehead.  Still, his being played more acidic than usual helped the humor to stand out even more.

Annie's muted, but gesture driven, description of taking Abed's fair maiden in the barn was the most hilarious sequence we've had in weeks. The reactions of everyone else, including Shirley's horror, Jeff's awe, Troy's note-taking and ultimately Abed's climactic collapse, made it that much more classic.

Britta's earnestly heartfelt reaction to the death of Abed's barkeep was also a highlight. I also loved the group's reactions to her attempts to interpret the game's perceived injustices as some sort of cause to champion.

Ultimately, though, Abed as Dungeon Master was the star of the episode with his many portrayals of various D&D characters, from the wickedly funny unintelligible gnome, to the aforementioned fair maiden.  If this episode does not get Danny Pudi an Emmy nomination, someone really does need to pull out a sword and start doing some serious Academy damage.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
  • 4.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 (67 Votes)

Jeffrey Kirkpatrick is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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Although I love this episode as much as every episode, this one disturbed me, too. Never have I seen a character I previously enjoyed become so believably unlikeable. It almost hurts me that the "obvious reasons" Pierce the Dickish was left out turned into the very type of scenario the group had been hoping to avoid by not including him in the first place. It feels more and more like they're writing Pierce off the show (but doing it Community-style, with growing hints and building suspense). How can the group ever forgive Pierce's execrable behavior? Did Neil forgiving him at all excuse him? Could this be the end for our intrepid Laser Lotus explorer?

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I think Pudi did an exceptional job as the dungeon master. No one embraced their character quite like him, they more or less played D&D versions of their own personality, i.e.: how "Britta the Needlessly Defiant" was just that. By the way, that scene where he is portraying the elf maiden "coupling" with Annie still is hilarious after multiple, multiple viewings.

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Well, that's mine then. Donald Glover, with five lines, was more interesting than Danny Pudi in this ep. Chevy Chase was more interesting than Pudi as he went from irritating to EeeVEEL in this ep. Britta was more interesting than Pudi as she really embraced her character this ep.

Jeffreykirkpatrick

I think Pudi did a little more than that, but everyone is entitled to an opinion.

Piecar

Pudi was fine...But he pretended to be a gnome for seven seconds and said he was a maiden... This is not an Emmy worthy performance. Chase may deserve one for the anger he portrayed in this ep.....But Pudi scrunged down for a little while and said stuff...big frickin' deal. This show needs to hang narratives off characters other than Jeff and Abed. I have no love of Britta, but let's get a Britta ep! And, of course... A REAL SHIRLEY EP!!!!!

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Easily one of the best episodes of the series, and the best one since Christmas. I've played D&D for years off and on, and from a gamer perspective this was terrific - little things like the awkwardness as everyone introduces themselves, difficulty in coming up with names are all parts of the ideal experience. Each of the cast had a great role to play (although Shirley's was limited to a couple very good lines, sadly) and Ken Jeong in drow makeup left me in hysterics for five minutes. As for Pierce, that's a worrisome point. Chevy Chase was terrific in this episode as the campaign villain, and did have a reason to be so cruel - he's proven to be highly insecure about his place in the group and this blatant rejection would reasonably push him over the edge - but coming after the last two episodes (blackmailing Annie, blurting out the Shirley/Chang truth) he's running out of redeeming qualities. In a lot of season 1 he had some strange wisdom and affection for the rest of the group, but lately he's just been selfish and cruel. I agree - he's much better as the crotchety uncle rather than his bullying role now. I hope we'll get more episodes in the vein of his mother's death or the hipsters to show us more sides to his character.

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This episode proved three things to me 1 danny pudi absolutely needs and Emmy nom for this episode 2 so do the writers of this episode 3 and finally Chevy chase has not lost a single beat in what many consider to be the funniest career of all time. I watched vacation the other day and his timing is the same. one of my all time fave episodes of the show up there with epidemiology and modern warfare and contemporary American chicken. I mean Chang in black face and piece calling him Al joelson might have been the hilight of this TV season. Or Britta and abeds heartfelt final convo. This ep was perfect in my opinion. Community never disappoints

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This episode proved three things to me 1 danny pudi absolutely needs and Emmy nom for this episode 2 so do the writers of this episode 3 and finally Chevy chase has not lost a single beat in what many consider to be the funniest career of all time. I watched vacation the other day and his timing is the same. one of my all time fave episodes of the show up there with epidemiology and modern warfare and contemporary American chicken. I mean Chang in black face and piece calling him Al joelson might have been the hilight of this TV season. Or Britta and abeds heartfelt final convo. This ep was perfect in my opinion. Community never disappointments.

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This was one of my favorite episodes, ever, up there with Contemporary American Chicken and Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas. The whole seen with Hector and the Elf just killed me, and then Troy taking notes at the end was just the right touch. As a DISH customer/employee I was able to watch it in full HD, and it Change looked fantastic as a dark elf. I feel sorry for him considering how long it must have taken Ken Jeong in real life to sit while makeup up that on him, only to have him gone in five minutes, but it was worth it. Consistently one of the funniest shows on TV, every week, for the last two years.

Addict666

This was one of my favorite episodes, so classic