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Community S05E01 / S05E02: "Repilot" / "Introduction to Teaching"

Hi everyone! I hated Season 4 of Community! Like, really, really disliked it. And it was a special kind of hate, the type that's reserved for things that used to be great and then devolved into something awful and cheap. Season 4 was the series' Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a low point that nearly tarnished everything that came before it and hid in a metaphorical fridge. Episodes about Inspector Spacetime conventions, puppet episodes, Annie and Britta in Oktoberfest outfits—actually, scratch that last one—and absurd alternate timelines were nothing more than feeble attempts to recreate the imaginative universe that drew us to the show in the first place. Maybe you liked it, maybe you simply tolerated it, but I had to literally strap myself to the couch and throw away the remote control in order to finish Season 4. And I choked it down despite the awful taste. (I seem to remember liking "Herstory of Dance," though, so at least there's that.)

But still, I couldn't wait for Season 5. Why? Well, the reason made an appearance early in the Season 5 premiere, "Repilot." And I can pinpoint the exact moment:


Yep, Dan Harmon (and the very under-appreciated Chris McKenna) has returned to sail his rickety ship after taking a year off due to forced unemployment, and the results so far are tremendous. Both episodes that comprised the Season 5 premiere were better than anything that came out of Season 4, and they resurrected the delicate and charming voice that placed Community's first three seasons in that difficult-to-reach space between believable sentimentality and subversive drug trip.

Season 5 could've emerged from the rubble of Season 4 in a few different ways. There was more than one mention of a "Season 4 was all a dream" scenario, which would have been tactless and stupid. But given Harmon's behavior in the past, it wasn't out of the question. Thankfully, he instead approached Season 5 as a count-your-blessings new start rather than an egotistical "I told you so!" regripping of the reins, and Community returned to simpler times. 


Season 4's overuse of Community trademarks like empty callbacks and exclusionary inside jokes (and let's face it: though the show has come to be known for those, they've become awfully stale due to repetition) gave way to a stripping-down of the characters to their most basic selves. Annie was the enthusiastic do-gooder, Britta was falsely inflated by an errant sense of self-importance (and not romantically entangled with Troy, PHEW!), Shirley was broken by a damaged personal life and feeling like she was outside the group, Troy was a lovable airhead and a goldmine of one-liners, Abed was still living on his own planet, and Jeff was struggling to balance being a shark-toothed gutter lawyer and an actual human being. Community is once again in the hands of someone who knows what makes the show work—the earnestness of the characters being a gateway to the absurd details. That's all a very boring way of saying that "Repilot" and "Introduction to Teaching" recaptured the magic that made the series the best network comedy of the decade, at least in the eyes of this oaf. 

"Repilot" lived up to its title: It was a do-over that acknowledged the existence of Season 4 (Changnesia was faked! Jeff DID graduate! etc.) while also forgetting about it and clearing the table so the series could start anew. The episode was 30 minutes of re-acclimating viewers to the Community of old by performing open-heart surgery on the show and letting us witness what drives its pulse: caring about these characters. A less mature Harmon may have included a few cracks about senior year being like seeing your girlfriend get gang-banged, but this was no time for name-calling, this was a time to move forward. And moving forward would require an explanation of how Jeff might return to Greendale after graduating in the Season 4 finale. The answer (after a plot to gather the study group together to sue the school failed)? Make Jeff a teacher at Greendale! 


That was largely covered in "Introduction to Teaching," the better of tonight's two episodes (and probably more indicative of how Season 5 will go down), as "Repilot" was more concerned with making us feel comfortable again than with being a nonstop laugh parade. Recasting Jeff as a teacher opened up the whole new world of Greendale faculty for the show to explore, and I already love it. Community's teachers have always been silly goons standing at the front of the classroom, rather than parts of the students' lives, but now they're an entirely new clique that we have a way into. And they're also lazy drunks. Making Chang a teacher again was long overdue, and Jonathan Banks' debut as Professor Buzz Hickey was even better than I could have imagined. "Go get your earring, you piece of human garbage." I could watch the way Hickey treated Leonard for days and probably will. 

And instead of establishing a substantial divide between the teachers and students with the teachers wielding all the power, "Introduction to Teaching" quickly incited a very funny riot over the evil practice of grading "minuses," to illustrate that the students will always be a threat to the teachers because the former outnumbers the latter. And Jeff's newfound love of teaching and his desire to make Greendale a better place (I like this Jeff) cut the teachers down just enough to make them equals to the rest of the campus oddballs. "The teachers here are teachers here because they did something wrong, same as the students," Jeff said to squash the conflict before receiving a spaghetti shower from the angry mob. And he's right. Greendale is full of people who suck, and Season 5 will focus on Jeff leading the Student-Teacher Save Greendale Committee to bring Greendale to greatness. This will be fun.


The second half of the episode was Community back in full stride as Abed took a course called "Nicholas Cage: Good or Bad?" Excuse me, but how do I go back in time and skip attending a way-too-expensive liberal arts college to go to Greendale instead? Abed's Nic Cage blowup in front of class was hilarious, and for Abed's exercise in analyzing the enigmatic and polarizing actor to yield a look at both himself and the people around him was smart, witty, and poignant. Exactly how I remember Community

We're all going to be a little over-excited about this successful return of Community, and that's great. But this is the part where I have to remind you that "Repilot" and "Introduction to Teaching" were merely "good" episodes of Community, and that Season 5 could very well get even better. Either way, "good" Community is still a whole lot better than every other network comedy, so I'm going to ride the wave of elation, remove those pesky minuses, and give these episodes an A. It's good to have you back, old friend.



STUDY NOTES

– Troy: "Do you guys feel weird about doing this without [motions to Pierce's chair] Magnitude?"  

– For all of Troy's awesome zingers, he wasn't much more than a guy who delivers zingers in these first two episodes. I guess I don't have a problem with that, but we'll need a bit more from him before his permanent exit in Episode 5.

– HAHA Annie's Witness Intimidation Project! I almost peed myself.

– Why do I feel like I was the only person who was REALLY excited about the brief return of Pierce? I don't care about his off-camera antics, I love Chevy Chase and always will. 

– Did I miss Vicky? Was she involved in the riot? She's TERRIBLE!

– Speaking of Pierce, is he essentially being replaced by Buzz? Will Buzz be at the table during the show's study room scenes?

– WHOA I loved the end tag of the second episode. That was some terrifying shit right there, and it tops the Pranks Gone Wrong list. Listening to a creepy professor sort out his issues on the phone while disguised as furniture and a tree? So dark and so funny.

– Am I being a pessimist if I think the ratings for Community will still be entirely disappointing?


What'd you think of the Season 5 premiere?


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 6/2/2015

Season 6 : Episode 13

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I love Community with all my heart but I honestly don't understand what you all raving about here. I thought the only really funny parts in these two episodes were the Nic Cage storyline, and Jonathan Banks. That is to say, Re-Pilot was almost complete bs, and while Introduction to Teaching was more like the good old Community, it was still not great.
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It's not just you and maybe because I've barely seen any Cage movies I didn't care for the Abed storyline either. :-(
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I too love Chevy Chase, always will.
Yes this show feels familiar again. I wanna buy it a beer (or 10) and reminisce a lil about better times and look towards the future.
ABC- Always Be Caging.

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Leonard was badass with those earrings. Things are about to chang this season!!!
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Brilliant!! Delete season 4 from your brains immediately. This is what Community should always be remembered like.
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There's light in the Darkest Timeline again
One of the things I was especially upset about during the gas leak year was the complete mishandling of the Troy-Britta relationship. Imagine what that would have been like during the Harmon seasons.
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I agree with all of it, especially the fact that the only episode of season 4 that I liked was "Herstoy of dance". I'm glad someone else actually agrees with me about that instead of just blanket hating the whole season.
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I enjoyed both eps this week but the chair and tree scene had me dying the look on Troy and Abeds faces hilarious!!!
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Season 4 wasn't great it also wasn't as horrible as you say just the weakest season of an overhyped show that should have finished at the end of Season 3, how this show got Season 5 I'll never know.
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Can't believe neither tv.com nor AVclub has mentioned the hilariousness of Fat Neil starting the riot, I lol'd so much...
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Thank God Community is back to being Community again ...... Season 4 Never happened :)
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I didn't realize I missed Community that much (and Dan Harmon, for that matter) until I saw these two episodes. The beginning of Season 5 made me understand in a moment what was lacking from Season 4. I couldn't stop smiling, just having these characters again (being really themselves) was a beautiful christmas present.

I am excited about this season. I know there will be some epic episodes to come, as well as some weak episodes, the kind of episodes that are like Nicolas Cage, you can't decide if they are good or bad episodes. Community is community again, and I am happy for that.

It almost surprised me to be excited about watching community again, like the first seasons!

btw, I imagine the gas leak year they mentioned is Season 4? XD
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I'm so excited about Season 5 right now, after how horrible season 4 was I would have taken anything. The fact that it's actually something really good is a bonus. Of course these 2 episodes don't hold the same standard as the best of S1-2 (my favorite seasons), but it was still pretty damn good for a tv show and enough to keep me interested and happy.

I like how they're reinventing the show, moving on from a past era and creating something new, while still keeping the fundamental stuff that made the show to begin with.
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I could not wait for Season 5,but I am disappointed with both the episodes.
Seriously,after all the criticism towards Season 4,if this is how Dan Harmon wants to open Season 5,he has a long road ahead
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One of the best moments of the episode was Deans french song about excell, and the whole excell thing in general. Oh how i've missed smart humor!!
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*Hides behind couch holding up white flag*... A couple of weeks ago I binched (binge watched) season 4 and after watching the openers of season 5, have to say season 4 wasn't THAT bad. Maybe its coz everyone was naysaying so much. I also think my expectations were low after the hit and miss season 3. Still, lets hope season 5 draws enough viewers to keep this thing going.
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Sooo delighted at this return to form - I loved both episodes. Abed's Cage flipout was superb, and I am happy to see as much of the Dean as possible:

"Jeffrey! Take off your shirt!"

Happy New Year Community :-)
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Ugh, enough with the Dan Harmon glorification already. No matter what episode they'd aired everyone would have loved it and said it was sooo much better than anything out of season 4. Bull.
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Did you not think these episodes were better than virtually anything from season 4 then?
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don't get me wrong here. i like this show and i am glad it's still on TV. all i'm saying is that people love this show more now that the harmon name is back on the credits. take any episode from season 4 and put harmon's name on it and people would have raved over it. that's just a little unfair in my opinion.
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The point is the episodes would have been better had Harmon been in charge. He knows how to write for these characters better than anyone and, try as they might, his replacements simply didn't understand how this show works. Virtually every criticism I've heard of season 4 was justified.
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The funniest bit for me was Jeff and Abed talking about his 555 phone number.
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Personally, I loved both of these episodes. The first episode was certainly a bit darker than the Community we are used to, but I still found lots to be happy about it. The second episode was classic Community in my book, and if we get more episodes like that, I feel I will definitely be satisfied with season 5, but what can I say I'm just happy to Harmon's Community back of TV.
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This was certainly a good start. I hope it continues on and translates into better ratings. Fingers crossed.
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I loved the poke at Danny Glover that he himself embraced. "How could he do that. After so much they did for him?" LOL. Subversive, ironic, very Community. :)
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There are simply not enough words to accurately convey my joy at not only the return of Community but the return of Community to form. I literally cannot recall any truly laugh-out loud moments from last season, but I had to pause last night's episode's multiple times, or skip back a few minutes, due to laughing so hard. My friend and I have been quoting excessively in the last few hours since watching and now the wait until new episodes air feels excruciating....

"Et tu, Brute!!!"
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Geez Tim, tell us how you really feel about Season 4. I love that they chalked up season 4 to a long-term gas leak and left it at that. They moved on.

Anyway, unlike yourself, I didn't have that much faith in Harmon/McKenna... I had faith, no doubt, but it wasn't their writing credits that really got my attention with these episodes, it was the human stories and the laughs, and that's what Community should be - not gimmicks.

Introduction to Teaching was the better episode, I laughed more and I didn't feel like it needed to do as much legwork so it could live and exist. But more importantly, it had Abed flip out and do a hilarious Nic Cage explosion, that was awesome. Jonathan Banks was great too, hasn't done regular sitcom work since the underrated Fired Up, his deadpan work at the end credits was so damned funny it overshadowed Abed and Troy's joke and their faces.

Early in Repilot it felt a little soft, but by the second half it found its stride and dumped its gimmick, giving way to some thoughtful and funny stuff.

Having a cameo hologram by Pierce wasn't so bad either, I appreciated the olive branch feeling.

And Magnitude got a great reference and got to POP POP! a window.

I wouldn't mind having Buzz be the new group old guy, but maybe it's time for another student too.

No, it's not pessimistic for you to assume the awful timeslot on the awful network during an awful time to launch a premiere will create awful ratings for Community.

I did wonder why Jeff felt he was a shitty lawyer though, originally in the series he was competent.
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I really didn't hate season 4 as everyone else seems to but these two episodes were so much more amazing than the entire previous season. Season 4 wasn't the worst thing ever on tv but it just didn't feel like community but now it's really back.

Welcome back community and I'm still hoping for 6 seasons and a movie.

Highlights for me: Troy's comments about Zach Braff, the voiceover at the end of the episode, the whole Cage thing and the dean's thought in french song
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I agree completely. Season 4 has gotten alot of attacks but a bad episode of community is still better than alot of other stuff out there (I'm looking at you two and a half men). Glad it's back to form though (the Dean's French song had me laughing whilst being completely perplexed)! Can't wait to see what else they have in store
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annie's witness intimidation project... omg
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There are no words to describe how much I love this show! whilst I didn't hate season 4 like the rest of you did (what can I say? yes season 4 was the worst season, BUT Community on it's worst day is STILL much better than most most shows on their best) I am so relieved to have Harmon back on board. I kinda feel vindicated for not hating season 4 as it at least kept the show going long enough for Harmon to come back. No I don't miss Pierce - although I enjoyed the cameo. I was more relived that Magnitude came back (pop pop!) I will miss Troy though but as Harmon is back on board i think it will be ok.

The highlight of the episode for me was the class on Nicholas Cage: good or bad. And Abed's resulting meltdown. It is a question that I have struggled with for many years now and I'm glad to find out that I am not alone. this is the main reason why I love Harmon - he is one of us (a geek) he really gets us.
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Two really solid and funny episodes. While I didn't hate season 4, I got to the stage where I could wait to watch Community until after something else, now I can't wait for next weeks episode again. Loving Jonathan Hanks as Buzz, I'm going to pretend that that this is what really happened Mike.
I miss Pierce. I really hated how he got turned into the big bad. It's a pity all the crap got in the way of him being on the show. But whatever about Pierce, I can't even contemplate Community without Troy, it just seems so wrong :(
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- There were some really great comedy nuggets in these episodes. The best one was, as many others have also pointed out, this:

Abed: Season nine of Scrubs Zach Braff was only in the first six episodes.
Troy: That son of a bitch, after everything Scrubs did for him! Sorry.

- I agree with you on Chevy Chase. I'm not a personal friend of his, I've never even met him, so I'm not affected by his notoriously difficult personality off screen. I only care about what he does on screen, and based on that, he is one of my comedy heroes. So yeah, I was excited to see him. Shame that his character was never utilized well in the show.

- No, you're not a pessimist. So far the show has been surviving on life support pretty much since the beginning. Why would the ratings suddenly jump? The fans sure keep hoping for it. Every time an episode airs or the show returns from a longer break, we hope that the message about the awesomeness of Community would have finally reached the rest of the population, and the ratings would surge. But they never do. Luckily it's not our fault, it's the fault of those millions of people who are blind to great entertainment.
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Abed's sexy cat bit killed me and will be forever on repete in my head

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Having the Zach Braff voiceover bit was hilarious, there were so many gems in the episodes that I will need to watch them at least dozen times to fully appreciate them all!
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Am I the only one who really wanted to watch all of Jeff's class?
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You're not. I was just about to learn how to win every argument and they cut away. The holy grail of life lessons plucked from my grasp. Sigh.
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Same feeling exactly! Where can we take this course? ^^
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It is like seeing an old friend again. Both episodes were utterly fantastic. It is the small things that make it the best. Troy commenting on the 6 episodes he is going to be in. Comedy that is aware of itself and points to it is just fantastic. Harmon is fantastic. NBC is stupid. Community is back.
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Community is back!! :-D
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was i the only one who cough the excuse for season 4? the gas-leak year???
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I totally got that too, such a funny perfect low key way to play it off!
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Does anyone else still have the 'hot air balloon' song from season 4 pop into their head occasionally or is it just me?
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Because of Sara Bareilles, absolutely.
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Nope. Just you.
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PS. Just noticed the picture. Garth Merenghi's Darkplace needs more credit than it ever got!
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Fair enough. I actually enjoyed that episode. Not as good as Harmon would have done it but still...
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Repilot reminded of the actual pilot episode - some good laughs, but it reintorduced the characters to us.

Introduction to Teaching was the better of the 2 episodes and I really liked Professor Garrity.

I didn't think either episode was spectacular, but both were very good.
If the rest of this season is as good as Introduction to Teaching, I'd be happy
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I was expecting a mention of the hilarious way they tried to pass off the fact that the characters were a little off last season with a gas leak. That seemed to be their funny way of acknowledging and explaining last season. I actually didn't hate season 4, but it definitely felt a little off. I am glad to have Harmon back. I thorougly enjoyed both of last nights episodes... especially Abed's Nic Cage breakdown. I hope we get more preffesor Hickey!
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thank you! i was hoping somebody else noticed it too!
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I kinda forgot about season 4. I watched each episode once and was like, ok those were episodes, so I wasn't super infuriated by it. That said I'm so glad Dan Harmon is back because these two episodes were great. It had classic meaningful Community first, then perfect pop culture parody second. I don't often laugh out loud while watching shows, but I definitely did throughout "Introduction to Teaching." Community is back and it is wonderful.
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I don't hate season 4 but it was hard to watch the writers/showrunners try to impersonate Dan Harmon instead of doing their own thing. They were never going to be Dan Harmon so it probably would have been better if they had done a solid straight-college comedy show instead of making a bunch of hollow imitations of Harmon party tricks. It's like going to see a Bon Jovi tribute band. It's not the real Bon Jovi so any performance they pull out is just going to remind you how good Bon Jovi would have done that (I feel like that was a "do I blame owls for how much I suck at analogies?" moment). I enjoyed the premier of Community. It wasn't a return to full-glory quite yet but it was very season 3 and you could feel Dan Harmon's presence again which is I think all any fan wanted. I'm interested to see how this goes and I really hope we do get to season 6. I doubt a movie will ever happen though :(
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Did anyone else notice that Troy and Abed's room in the apartment is now made of pillows instead of blankets?
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I didn't hate Season 4 I liked it more then most comedies, it just wasn't up to the high expectations of every single person on the planet.

I can't pick my favorite moments of last night's premiere because there were a lot of them! If I were to pick one Abed as Nic Cage would be it. Glad to have Harmon back.
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Honestly, I never HATED season 4 (though if you compile a list of Community's worst episodes, it would be season 4 heavy) because there was a little more growth to some characters. Honestly, the study group of season 3 started to get a bit too self-centered and unlikable and moments of season 4 helped erase some of that.

That said, I laughed more last night that nearly ALL of season 4. Johnathan Banks stole the show and I look forward to more of him.
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People hate on season 4 too much.. I re-watched it twice in the last two weeks and actually found several scenes from it to be hilarious and very 'Community-esque'. Obviously it should've been realized it wouldn't be exactly like season 1-3 because Harmon wasn't there and I think people watched it with the mindset that he was still there.. When they should've been watching it with the mindset like "Hey a new guy is taking over and is basing the last year off of some other guy's ideas for the last three years, god that must've been hard"
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I smiled when watching and afterwards I thought: 'what did I just watch' in a very positive way. So different from usual comedies. They're back and getting ready for a great season.
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Pretty great episodes and Harmon's return definitely stood out in the writing and overall feel of the episodes. I wanted more troy though, we are halfway through his exit and he barely had anything to do. I barely miss Pierce. Buzz was an awesome addition to the cast and Chang was funny again. Loved Britta in this episode. Buzz's diss on Leonard was hilarious! Probably the funniest thing of the episodes. A+ from me! Welcome back Community. As for ratings I'm gonna go with 4 million 1.6 in the demographic. PS Abed was hilarious as per usual...the one constant on this show is Danny Pudi's amazing acting
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I was so happy last night watching Community. Community is back! I also loved it when they acknowledged Britta's changes since the show started. She did go from an anarchist to an airhead, and I hated that. I am looking forward to the rest of the season.
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Definitely liked Introduction to teaching better. I kind o felt like report was a person who has been horrible and knows he was but also acknowledges that apologizing makes it worse.
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YES, Community is back. I laughed more during those 2 episodes than in the whole season 4 (It felt like it anyway :P). I lost it during the Abed Cage breakdown! Welcome back Harmon and McKenna. Now I have high hopes for the rest of the season!

Six Seasons and a Movie!!!!
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I felt bad for Leonard. Poor, poor Leonard.
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Just a quibble, but one thing that struck me was when Jeff was telling each group member what they were like when Community first started, it did sound as if Harmon was trying to blame Season 4 for their change in character, but if we're being honest it was Season 3 when they all really became different people, Season 4 just exacerbated the problem. The one thing about Season 4 I actually liked was that Britta was a bit more grounded than she had been in Season 3 (OK, that and the fact that Pierce was shown just a modicum of respect more than in Season 3), there were a couple of nods to the smart idealist that she used to be. I just hope that all of gang can now begin to regain some of those better qualities that they exhibited during Season 1.

Anyway, these episodes were good. I thought "RePilot" was better than "Introduction to Teaching" but if the latter is an indication of what the season is going to be like then I can't wait to see the rest of the episodes. I also liked the little nod to Pierce, I'm glad they didn't just dismiss him as if he never happened (like they probably wanted to do with Season 4). I also liked Buzz treating 70 year old Leonard like an 11 year old. The way Jeff said "let's not go there yet" when Chang was mentioned as a potential Asian member of the group leads me to think that the 2nd teacher position might be filled by the guest teacher of the week, with Chang filling in when there's no guest booked. The only real worry I have is the departure of Troy and I want to know now how they are going to deal with a Troy-less Abed.

Finally, "Herstory of Dance" was a great Season 4 episode that would have fit along side any from Season 3 (I didn't mind "Heroic Origins" either, but it could have better - obviously).
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"if Harmon was trying to blame Season 4 for their change in character, but if we're being honest it was Season 3 when they all really became different people"

He actually did the opposite, Jeff tells Annie "don't blame it all on a gasleak year, this was a 4 year process". He acknowledge how season 3 went.
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I take it all back! I'm going to re-watch them because... you know... it's Community!
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