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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Review, Community: History 101

Season 4, Episode 1
Grade: A-

Verdict: COMMUNITY IS BACK COMMUNITY IS BACK COMMUNITY IS OK sorry. But honestly, this episode was solid. Abed spends most of the episode in an inception-like state, where Community looks like a laugh-track-laden sitcom and reminds us of what it is - and most importantly, what it is not.

Like a lot of people, I've been filled with a mixture of excitement and nerves regarding the new season of Community. Show runner Dan Harmon was cut loose after last season, and I've been afraid that Community would be molded into a more standard, lowest-common-denominator sitcom in order to fix its rating problems.

This episode was a little less theme-y than the ones in season 3, but I think it's honestly for the better. In "History 101," Jeff has a plan to graduate college a semester early. In order to succeed, however, he needs to win a spot in the semester's only history class, The History of Ice Cream, which is overbooked. To win a slot, the Dean requires students to compete in a Hunger Games-like series of battles, which Jeff does - attempting to win not only a spot for himself, but one for everyone in the study group.

Meanwhile, Abed is disturbed (because when is he not?) at the idea of the study group dissolving after its last semester. Following Brita's advice, he recedes into his "happy place" - a Community-like sitcom complete with bad jokes, laugh tracks and standard story arcs. This part of the episode is fairly ingenious. The new show runners obviously know they have some big shoes to fill with the departure of Dan Harmon. With this plot, they loudly announce to the audience that they aren't going to turn the show into a run-of-the-mill sitcom by showing us what it would look like if they did.

My favorite part of most Community episodes revolve around the Dean, so I think his prominent role in this episode is a big part of the reason I enjoyed it so much. At the end of the episode he moves in next door to Jeff, which I think is absolutely perfect. I do wonder if they'll burn out his funny by over-using him, but it really hasn't been a problem so far.

My only complaint with this episode is that I think the writing has been sharper in the past. There were some decent one-liners, but on the whole the dialogue was a bit weaker and a little less quirky than I've come to expect. Still, I'm fairly happy with the episode and look forward to next week.

Favorite quote: "You'll be happy to know that we'll be offering another history class. Because I care about you. And not because I found out that if we don't offer a real history class we'll lose like $40,000 in grant money." - The Dean

Best moment: I've seen a pretty funny tweet going around. The tweet joked that Bill Murray should replace Chevy Chase on Community, and Abed should be the only one who notices. I was instantly thrilled when the episode started with Fred Willard taking Chevy Chase's place in Abed's meta-Community. Clearly my favorite part of the episode.

Worst moment: Annie's attempt to become a prankster. Meh.
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