As I'm rewatching the fourth season of Community, I'm beginning to realize that the season isn't as bad as I had once thought. Now before you bring out the torches and ostracize me from the Community community like Pierce from Dungeons and Dragons, allow me to explain.

We went into the season knowing that Dan Harmon was fired. He wasn't silently let go and brushed to the side, this figurehead was publicly stripped from his creation, like a mother being torn from her child, and forced to watch as two completely different people attempt to make it their own.

Because of this, we went into the show biased against Moses and David. In all fairness, they never stood a chance.

Now I will admit, the season did have its faults. It felt like the showrunners were trying too hard to make it quirky without having the skills to follow through(the half-assed Rope homage in the aptly titled episode "Intro to Knots"), but what it lacked in technicals and writing, it made up for with character development.

Over the course of the season, we saw Jeff Winger meet his dad, Troy and Britta get together then break up, Abed start to see someone(played by the perfectly cast Brie Larson), and even Jeff graduate from Greendale and move on.

We had a few gimmick episodes as well, complete with a puppets-on-psychotropic-berries musical sequence.

All that aside, there was a lot missing from this season. The Troy/Britta relationship felt forced and the breakup was anticlimactic, even the season-long "Changnesia" story arc had zero payoff. It felt like the show-runners were big picture people and had no idea on how to get from point A to point B(something Harmon was too involved with(which may have been a factor in his dismissal)).

One of the major themes with the show is the acceptance of failure, and at this point in the game, its fitting. Everyone came to Greendale after giant tragedies in their lives. Jeff was just disbarred, Troy lost his scholarship, Shirley had just gotten a divorce, and Greendale accepted them as they are- imperfect human beings. Shouldn't we do the same for them?

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I've just completed a Community marathon and I was watching it with a view to defending Season 4 prior to Season 5 starting, just like you have, and whilst some of it is difficult to defend, I do think Season 4 fixed some of the bigger problems from the first years of Harmon.

I found that Britta and Pierce were a bit more grounded and their personalities and actions were less extreme or erratic, which was the biggest plus for the season. Watching the whole series again highlighted just how far detached Britta had come from being that smart, attractive, confident woman we met at the start of season 1. And for all that most of us dislike Pierce (almost to the point of hating him) he truly does have some redeemable qualities. Early on he was easily confused, a bit paranoid and most obviously outright offensive. But somewhere during Season 2 and throughout Season 3 was more akin to an actual villain. Season 4 changed this and turned him back into the annoying, least-liked member of the group, but a member of the group none-the-less. Now he's gone and the farewell he did deserve will never happen (unless Harmon is a Shaman...)
There were some big mistakes however. Jeff's new family were poorly cast (although to contrast that, as you said in the article, Brie Larson was brilliant), the Season finale was terrible, the Britta & Troy relationship was disappointing and the could-have-been-fantastic Changnesia was wasted. Too many of the episodes tried to borrow/copy/steal (delete as applicable) from previous seasons so not much of this season felt original. Maybe with a second season and more writing time Moses and David could have improved upon Season 4, but to be honest I'm glad we are not going to find out.
And finally, whilst I wasn't a massive fan of the episode, I appreciate why they decided to go with the Origins story. When faced with the probable cancellation of the show why not give the viewers a little back story before the "Greendale 7" disappear from our screens. And I liked the way they incorporated Chang at the very end. Like Pierce before him, Chang started out as a dislikeable character, an obvious counterfoil, but turned him into a villain (nay a super-villain) and Season 4 seemed to go some way to try to pull him back too.

Whilst it was the worst season of Community it did fix some of the problems created during King Harman's first stint at the throne. Now I only hope that during his second reign he refrains from the unnecessary extremes that threatened to ruin the show in the past.
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I'm too new a fan to this show to decide if this season was good or not.
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Ironically the only episode I loved was the puppet episode. I honestly didn't think season 4 was as bad as some people were saying, but it was far from any of the previous seasons.
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I agree that there was some character development but that was bound to happen anyway, it was a natural progression for them and is more a consequence of what'd been going on in the last three seasons and the natural flow of the programme. When you get to that stage, such development more or less happens by itself, the writers' job is to make it happen in a realistic way (realistic in the sense that it makes sense in the context of the show's universe and its very own 'rules'), and that's where I think they failed miserably.

Jeff's two main plots were daddy and graduating - both had been hinted from much, much earlier on, and it was obvious they were meant to be reflected around this time. Thanksgiving was a great episode IMO and it was very well-written in terms of his big 'reason you suck' speech and the ending, but they seem to be stuck on a loop of 'Jeff learns the lesson, then he forgets it next week.' Then again, that's human character, so it's realistic if a bit boring after a while. Regarding Jeff's graduation, the whole episode was embarrassing to say the least. It could've been much, much, much better, but it was IMO a lost opportunity. Remember Rory Gilmore's graduation on Gilmore Girls? Abby Lockhart's on ER? Even Dylan McKay's on the original 90210? A good graduation episode doesn't need to be an über-spectacular Hollywood-esque over-produced epic to be great, but this one was positively underwhelming even compared to those ones (of which only Rory's was actually an epic, but the others were still well done).

Britta and Troy ... again, could've been great, but it was so dull ... Annie's season one relationship with Vaughn was more interesting (and that's saying something). I think Annie's still too gullible, which is consistent with her character but again that's getting old: desperately signing up for Troy's classes, then moving on from him because Vaughn played a G chord, then falling for Jeff and obsessing about him for months because he said 'I'm glad you're staying' and kissed her, then moving out because Abed told her to, then changing her major because Abed told her to... I know I'm oversimplifying (e.g., she'd been struggling with her choice of major for a while), but the thing is certain bits were too rushed or not explored enough. Of course, having only 13 episodes to make all of that happen was yet another constraint they had.

There's a lot more to say (e.g., about Abed, Pierce, etc.), but I'll just leave it at: yeah, I know it was an uphill battle, but the fact remains, they could've done a better job. It wasn't horrendous, but it wasn't even half as good as it could've been.
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I liked Seasons 1 and 2, 3 was ok but not as good... and 4 was just not for me at all, didn`t feel like watching it regularly in the slightest, I think I watched a few then gave up. There seemed to be rushed, half finished ideas, I didnt know about the hirings and firings so had no preconception, just judged what i saw on its .. merit. I think it has damaged it`s reputation beyond fixing for some fans jusging by feedback, and that is the sign of a less than great season. Glad you still liked it though!

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I felt that the show tried to do too much in the little time that it had for season 4. Looking back in retrospect to point out mistakes and things they could have done better is easy, but good writing is a lot harder to do. It is hard to fix any of that now that Pierce is gone and Troy will disappear in the next season. They did do a good job on establishing the backgrounds of the characters though.

My thoughts below:

I felt Pierce's story line had potential in showing that the reason he is still at Greendale was because he never really stopped relying on others to take care of him. Even at home, Gilbert was taking care of him now. He is also part owner of Shirley's Sandwiches, but we never really see him do anything with that either. We have seen his skills as a salesman and speaker, but they made him regress back into the racist old man. I feel that he should have been the one to graduate from Greendale, not Jeff because he is still coming to terms with his father and his growth is something that still needs more time. Pierce should have graduated Greendale and realize that his skill is in selling things to people and he could make regular appearances working at Shirley's Sandwiches if it was ever needed.

Jeff has fallen into a pit of "will they or won't they" between Annie and Britta and I feel that they were trying to make that a big part of the story. That also came at the cost of Troy's development with him realizing the only thing he is good at right now is just being friends with other people. Britta may also need to take some time off from the ruiner's club and try to fix some of the things that she has in fact ruined. Even though she is a therapist, she has yet to actually fix people. She even broke Abed more in the first episode of season 4 and the results of Jeff's meeting with his father is still uncertain. Annie showed that she does wish for a relationship with Jeff, but at the same time, commitment is something that Jeff is not ready for. Abed is gradually starting to socialize more, but it is only with equally weird people like at the Inspector Spacetime convention and the coat check girl. It would be interesting to see where it goes from here as Abed gradually moves away from doing crazy stuff only with Troy. I think it is unlikely, but Chang might take Troy's place as Abed's partner in crazy things.
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While I do agree that people were biased and should have given it a chance (I tried), I am a fan of judging comedies based on whether they make me laugh and less on objective things like writing/directing/cinematography you would use to judge a drama. And season four just didn't do that. Sometimes, obviously, it did because these were still the same characters and the same actors et cetera, but not like the first three seasons. Were you laughing out loud when you're sitting alone in a dark room watching it?
For me, it was the same with How I Met Your Mother. Of course, there's the possibility the concept and story just didn't have it in it anymore (nod nod, HIMYM); with Community though, luckily, we'll get the chance to find out.
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I agree about Jeff growing up, not so much about Troy & Britta. If you pay atention to S1-3 you can actually see some glimpses that they could be more than friends, the fact that he was the one that wrote that text saying all those beatiful things about her, and that he knew that text was going to make her give up on Blade says a lot about their relations ship. So no, it wasn't force, it was forced their break up. (Only because the showrrunners prefered Britta with Jeff).

I do think they had goo intentions, and good ideas, but for some reasons those ideas didn't work. They tried to much.

So, to sum up, I only like Jeff's arc, the rest was quite bad.
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This is great! We promoted it to the tv.com homepage.
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HA. BEST. DEFENCE. EVER.
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It was horrendous. I agree with the pro points you mentioned. But the bad outweighed the good by 2.5x. Easy.

I didn't care for Harmon (or his antics) while watching the first couple of seasons of Community. But I did miss him when it was apparent that the new show runners/staff were trying to re-create what makes this show special rather than making it their own.

I will be back for the (final?) upcoming season. I will judge it accordingly.
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I never thought it was as bad as some people seemed to think. And it did get better as the season went on. You're right that the new show runners didn't stand a chance. They were throw-aways from the beginning. I think the worst storylines were leftovers from Dan Harmon's days that the new guys had to either ignore or come up with a story for. IMO, that's why the Troy/Britta and Channesia storylines didn't pan out. Maybe Harmon had some brilliant ideas for them, I don't know.
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