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Community recap: Ken Burns' The Pillow War

The Great Pillow War of 2012 gets the Ken Burns treatment. A Dreamatorium divided against itself cannot stand.

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COMMUNITY
Tyler Golden/NBC

Community

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
seasons:
6
run date:
09/17/09
performer:
Joel McHale
broadcaster:
Yahoo Screen
genre:
Comedy

Can you hear the drums, Inspector?

I remember long ago another campus fight like this.

But no more paintballs, Inspector.

You were humming “Daybreak,” and softly strumming your guitar.

I could hear the distant drums,

And Real Neil broadcasting from afar.

They were closer now, Inspector.

Every hour, every minute since the All Tomato.

I was so afraid, Inspector.

We were snug and very plush and none of us prepared to die.

And I’m not ashamed to say

The hush of down and feathers almost made me cry.

There were feathers in the air that night,

Britta’s flash was bright, Inspector.

She was shooting there for you and me,

Not artistry, Inspector.

Though we never thought we’d lose Guinness,

There’s no record.

If I had to do the same again,

I would, my friend, Inspector.

Considering Dean Pelton’s love of all things ABBA (see: “Epidemiology”) I’m surprised a re-worked “Fernando” with Inspector Spacetime lyrics didn’t make it into Greendale Campus Television’s epic documentary retelling of the Great Pillow War of 2012. Whoever was at the helm—be it the Guinness World Records film crew that descended upon the campus, or Troy and Abed themselves—ultimately opted for the high-toned dignity and serious-mindedness of Ken Burns. It was a fitting style to convey the magnitude (Pop! Pop!) of the largest pillow fight in community college history, and the greatest conflict to sunder Greendale since it was discovered centuries ago by Portuguese explorer English Memorial during his quest to find a fountain that cured syphilis.

You could see “Pillows & Blankets” as a generic parody of PBS, which for most of its existence has effortlessly mixed the highest levels of artistry with absolutely staggering banality. But it was really The Civil War, Burns’ eight-hour 1990 masterpiece, to which Dan Harmon & Co. chose to pay elaborate and, dare I say it, sophisticated tribute. Community captured it all: the pleading violins for a dash of wistful heartbreak; a little banjo for some Americana swagger; talking heads to add expert commentary (though, alas, no Shelby Foote, the smartest guy to ever appear on American television); detailed, sepia-toned maps to make sense of the carnage; slow pans-and-zooms across, and into, still photographs; recitations of text messages, in lieu of, you know, actual letters; and quotes from worthy literati like Leonard Rodriguez.

It was with just such a quote that “Pillows & Blankets” opened: “Between two groups of people who want to make inconsistent types of worlds, I see no remedy but force.” –Oliver Wendell Holmes.

That was exactly the cause of our strife: a refusal to compromise. Oh, Ayn Rand, what hath thou wrought?

NEXT: Troy and Abed create their own sister publication to EW, then turn to bloodshed. That’s how hard magazine publishing is.

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