Community reboots, once again, for its sixth season

When I heard that NBC cancelled Community after its fifth season ended, the overwhelming emotion was relief. Back in 2011, it was my favourite show, but I had issues with all the Jeff/Annie stuff in season three. Season three was good, but it didn’t reach the heights of the first two seasons (season two’s “Mixology Certification” is still my favourite episode). It also didn’t help that the media surrounding the show was so controversial that it ended up eclipsing the show’s quality. There were stories of keeping the writers up until all hours of the night, and then when Community was renewed for a fourth season, its creator Dan Harmon was fired. Harmon came back for a fifth season, which was a creative improvement from the fourth, but it lost something with the departure of Donald Glover, so I stopped watching it a couple of episodes later.

When Community was picked up by Yahoo! Screen, it felt like #sixseasonsandamovie was more important than the quality of the show itself. But it was a smart decision for Yahoo! to make their way into the world of streaming, picking up a show with an established audience. I had no idea that Stan purchased the streaming rights to Community, and it was a pleasant surprise that they uploaded the new episodes soon after they were available in the United States. If they hadn’t been, I probably wouldn’t have made an effort to watch them.

Because of all the changes in production, this is the fourth or fifth new permutation of Community. First there were new writers, then Chevy Chase was fired, then Dan Harmon returned and Donald Glover left, then the show went to Yahoo! and Yvette Nicole Brown left to look after her father. Community addresses all these changes in its sixth season premiere, “Ladders”. Because of its many permutations, Community has had several pilots, and this is its fourth. We have a new character, Frankie (Paget Brewster), who is responsible for making sure that Greendale doesn’t lose its insurance. “Ladders” is a bit clunky; Community is known for its pop cultural references and homages, but the frequent references to montages was a bit much. Considering there was a lot of setting up to do, this worked pretty well.

The second episode, “Lawnmower Maintenance and Postnatal Care” was much more Community than “Ladders” was. For a long time, Jim Rash and Gillian Jacobs have been the best part of Community‘s ensemble, and I’m grateful that the writers recognise that, because the A and B plots were built around Britta and the Dean. I really appreciated getting the insight into Britta’s parents – we have no idea what her childhood really was like, but even if they weren’t great parents, we only have Britta’s word for it. Seeing Britta with her parents helped us understand why she is the way she is, and “Lawnmower Maintenance and Postnatal Care” might be the first step of Britta’s journey to adulthood. Dean Pelton’s obsession with Virtual Reality software was hilarious, and the introduction of Keith David as the inventor of the system is brilliant casting. He was fantastic in Enlisted, and I’m also really happy that Kevin Biegel is now writing on the show.

At this point my main problem with the show is Chang, who has been the show’s problem since its second season. This show has always been well written (the fourth season doesn’t exist), and I would really love it if they finally got a handle on that character. The thing is that Ken Jeong doesn’t bring as much to Community as Donald Glover or even Yvette Nicole Brown did. Despite my reservations, I’m going to keep watching Community because even thought I don’t love it any more, I used to, and it is way better than How I Met Your Mother was at this stage.

Other thoughts:

  • I loved the visual of the frisbees falling through the roof and bursting out the doors, it was by far the best visual in the first two episodes. Also Leonard has been at Greendale for a really long time.
  • I wrote this as I watched Broadchurch, which wasn’t too bad this week.

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