Community, as a satire of modern secondary education, is never really meant to be taken seriously. The modern lackluster college campus provides topics aplenty, and the show hasn't begun to exhaust those topics yet. And the central characters are a collection of oddballs that have not worn out their charms. The show can start anywhere and go anywhere, and frequently flies completely off the rails in a way that feels wrong in precisely the right way.
So, with that in mind, I can take an episode like this one in stride. They're setting up the season, introducing the characters and the setting to the newbies, and preparing the space for the stories to come. Most of it is familiar to the returning audience, with a few surprises. There are battling deans in a wag-the-dog power struggle. (Welcome John Goodman! I hope they give you some good lines this year.) There's the hapless Chang moonlighting as a campus security guard. There's a re-purposed Pierce shedding his villain persona. These developments portend future laughs, but those laughs weren't really present this time around. There were chuckles aplenty, but belly laughs were absent.
And did the show fly off the rails? My, yes. There was a colorful opening musical number (which, sadly, fell flat) and an homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey, which, happily, hit its mark. And there were little touches to add to the lunacy ("Cougarton Abbey") as well as add color to the modern educational experience (the Bio prof is an ex-con ... not that much of a stretch!).
With experience as a guide, plenty of wonkiness iscoming this season. As long as they keep the dials labeled "satire" and "absurd" turned up, the show will be at its best. The season premiere is just Square One. This show never stays on Square One (and sometimes doesn't even start there). From here, anything is possible.
What type of Community do you like most? When they do bottle episodes? When they choose a theme (like "paintball episode," or "animated Christmas episode" or even "Zombie/Halloween" episode? Do you like it when they focus on school stuff and just goof around? For me, I'm glad the show is able to shift so effortlessly from each of those. This episode starts off in a goofy Glee musical type way and quickly shifts back to the typical school one. It's the start of a new school year which means a new class with a new teacher and new problems.
I really did enjoy this episode. I was sort of missing the rapid-fire jokes back and forth between each of the characters and I thought there was more focus here on simply explaining what Chang and Pierce were up to and on Jeff's anger at being out of the Biology class. However, the characters mesh so well together that it's impossible not to love every moment. Also, John Goodman's character should turn out to be an interesting villain throughout the season… I'm not sure he was used perfectly here, but he set up some pretty good jokes with the Dean (calling him a white Louis Gossett Jr.) There were a ton of awesome references here, including Abed's continued interest in Cougartown and Starburns asking Dr. King (the guy who played Omar in "The Wire) if they could get a Breaking Bad type situation going with weed.
Community just seems like one of those shows that are difficult to dislike. For me, a sub-par episode of Community is better than a lot of comedy shows on TV right now. This wasn't a sub-par episode, but I know that the premiere was simply a set-up for what should be a great season of television.
This episode surprised and made me feel like I was watching a slightly more matured Comedy, along the lines of scrubs in their first five years.
that being said Community has shown their chops in this first episode of the season. We need more moments like Jeff tripping on Monkey sleeping gas, and heart warming moments along the lines of Pierce falsely admitting that he was the one who tried to get rid of Jeff. John Goodman was also an amazing choice to be theVillain of the school this year, and i can't wait to see how that story progresses.
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