Culture

“Community” review: “Advanced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons”

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I’ve never played Dungeons and Dragons (or D&D for you hardcore players). That fact did not stop me from enjoying the hell out of season two’s “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.” It was a great episode that was funny, paid homage to a nerd staple, and tackled a tough issue like the threat of suicide. And look! Fat Neil is still alive and in the background!

Community jumped back into the table top, role-playing world of polyhedral dice, game pieces and character sheets with last night’s “Advanced Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.” The episode used Hickey’s familial spat with his son Hank (guest star David Cross) as the reason to whip out the board game. Hickey’s mad Hank didn’t invite him to his grandson’s birthday. They’ve drifted apart for years. Hank’s a D&D player. Abed and the gang see this as an opportunity for father and son to mend fences by playing the game. Hickey reluctantly agrees, but Hank discovers what’s going on and tries to wreak havoc by mixing the original character sheets and playing not to solve the quest. He’s fed up with his dad and his domineering ways. Wonder where he gets that anger from…and his fist bump?

Although not as spectacular as the original D&D classic, it wasn’t without its funny moments. Hickey getting to use his interrogation skills as a former cop on Abed (playing the role of dueling goblins) worked well and was an episode highlight. As did Annie as Hector The Well-Endowed.

Hector the Well Endowed strikes again!

It’s interesting how a new character like Hickey has been able to have so much emotional weight and attention during his brief time with the gang. His fighting with his son seems so trivial and small potatoes compared to the seriousness of someone potentially killing themselves that you can’t help but not be as invested in their dilemma as the first time the gang played D&D. They saved a life, and since D&D ain’t the hippest game in town from a douchey jock’s point of view and kids are mocked for playing it, the suicide topic certainly hit close to home for some people. Plus, that really wasn’t much of a total resolution between Hank and Hickey in the end which, for the sake of those characters’ personalities, was intended, I guess.

I’m sure if you play D&D, you’ll appreciate all the lingo, terms, etc that the episode used while the gang immersed themselves in the game. I just enjoy vulgar gestures (Dean “rubbing his sword”), funny voices and names. Chang is “Dingleberry,” while Jeff and Dean are the father/son duo of “Riggs” and “Joseph Gordon Die Hard,” respectively. I also appreciated the look of the episode, as well as the change in locale from the study room in the original D&D episode to Annie and Abed’s apartment in this one.

It didn’t quite reach the heights of the original, but “Advanced Advanced Dungeons and Dragons” was enjoyable enough. As Abed said earlier in the episode, “Sequels are hard to pull off.” Cool that they took the challenge. I didn’t see it as a sequel, but more as its own story. Not the worst or the best of the season. And we found out in the button during the credits that Annie sleeps with stuffed animals, so have at that, creepos.