Has NBC’s ‘Community’ Rediscovered Its Cult Comedy Roots?

http://www.thechiefly.com/culture/nbcs-community-rediscovered-cult-comedy-roots/

It feels like it’s been so long since there’s been a good episode of Community. Yet, Season 5 of the underdog comedy has managed to pry itself from the dullness of Season 4 to come into its own as a whole new series. Appropriately enough, the first episode in its back to back premiere is titled “Repilot”.

The repilot opens with a ruined Jeff, gone bankrupt in his new law practice after graduating from Greendale. He’s given an opportunity to restart, however, by taking down the school that had led him to this place. After a few mix-ups, he tries to convince his five study mates to sue for damages, their lives having not gone much better than his after graduation. Yet, somehow, it gets all turned around again (“Emotional whiplash” as Britta called it) and the six decide to return to the school; Jeff as a teacher and the other five as students. They want another chance to fix their lives, and they’ve determined that Greendale is the place to do it. After this initial set-up, Community is back in full-force with a second episode that brings back all of its old quirky charm.

Many were unsure that Community would return after its subpar previous season, having already faced trouble getting renewed in previous years. Yet, NBC surprisingly chose to give the series another chance, currently planned for thirteen episodes. Its devoted fan-base had shrunk after creator Dan Harmon’s departure, following a behind-the-scenes feud with Chevy Chase.

Executive produce Chris McKenna also left the show in 2012 after signing a two-year deal with Universal Television. Season 4 was run by Moses Port and David Guaracio (Just Shoot Me, Aliens in Americawhose work left many viewers unsatisfied. However, the original executives are now back and so is the quality.

With Dan Harmon’s return, the odd antics and metahumor that made Community such a cult classic are back. Of course, the show resumes without Chevy Chase as the ever-offensive Pierce, he’s hardly missed with the addition of new characters and situations.

However, Donald Glover’s quickly approaching departure may throw a wrench in the renewal of quality in the show. With many references  to Scrubs Season 9, one hopes that such comparisons won’t be quality-based in the future.

Personally, I was very pleased with the first two episodes of the new season, and I have become cautiously optimistic for its future. The script was clever and referential in the way that it hasn’t been for seemingly ages. Nicolas Cage, the topic of one of the subplots in the second episode, is the perfect subject for Community, being one of the greatest fascinations in popular culture today. Dani Pudi as the normally robotic Abed created easily my favorite moment of both episodes with his strange and sudden mental transformation into the crazy actor. If Season 5 can keep creating such hysterical moments, I will be thrilled.

As much as it has failed me in the past, I’m still pulling for six seasons and a movie.

Community Season 5 is airing Thursdays at 8/7 c on NBC.

Emma Paquette
One of those quiet advocates that the world add just a few more hours to the day. Even if I don't live in the District, I'm close enough to pretend that I do.
Emma Paquette
Emma Paquette

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