Scott Davis reviews the first episode of Community season four…
“And we’re back…“
After months of trials and tribulations surrounding TV’s best, but horrifically underwatched show, Thursday finally saw the return of the madcap students of Greendale Community College.
But what should have been a triumphant return turned into a nightmare for its fans, as not only was it shunted back from its original October scheduling to this month, but show maestro Dan Harmon, and his partners-in-crime brothers Russo were let go by NBC, replaced by new head-honcho’s….
Original show makers sacked and could-be-disastrous move out of the Fall season in the US? Fans smelt Dean-saster. But, thankfully, all the cast returns, including the departing Chevy Chase, quitting the show after this 13-episode season is over.
But, the good news is that for all it’s problems, it’s pleasing that Community returns with a bang rather than a whimper. Season 4 kicks off with “The Hunger Deans”, another bonkers idea from Dean Pelton (the superb Jim Rash), as he tries to wrestle through nearly all of Greendale’s occupants as they fight to attend the latest blow-off class, “History of Ice Cream”.
Jeff, now fresh from a summer of online classes and now one credit away from an early graduation, fights to get himself and the study group into the class, much to the dismay of Annie (Alison Brie) who wants the group to stay together for longer.
Meanwhile, Abed (Danny Pudi) continues to search his mind with his therapist Britta (Gillian Jacobs) for answers to his very existence in this “real world”, leading to a Abed-style sitcom/laughter track version of day-to-day at Greendale.
All in all, it’s a decent start for season 4, but the ghosts of Harmon and company linger large throughout. It’s a big risk for NBC to have removed the creators and show-runners: they were undoubtedly the heartbeat of the show, and despite the continued presence of all the cast, it will take some convincing of Community’s loyal fan-base (yours truly included) to continue the show as before.
Hopefully the future is bright for Greendale’s occupants, if not it really would smell disaster. Community has been built on smart comedy, choosing less obvious sitcom-based laughs, instead mocking them with gleeful wit and a catalogue of superlative film and TV referencing.
It’s refreshing slant on the current crop of laughter-track comedies that have hit it so big (The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, 2 Broke Girls) is perhaps the reason many choose not to tune-in, but it’s smarts are never intimidating in its “thinking” approached, but should be embraced. Like Scrubs before it, Community has no shame in ripping up the sitcom rulebook, and staying fresh, whimsical and new. Lets just hope the new guts at the top don’t exit the “Dreamatorium” and into the comedy darkness.
Stay tuned through the season for more reviews on Flicking Myth.