TV Review: ‘Community’ Season 4
It has been a rocky journey for Community to say the least. It was a cult hit straight off the bat with a small but loyal following who were enough to propel it in to a second season. The studio, however, wanted it to pull in bigger numbers of viewers before committing to it in the long run and the show has operated with an axe over it’s head since. Midway through the third season the show was shelved with little warning, and it was only after fervent fan campaigns did NBC make the announcement they they ‘always intended’ to bring it back. The third season finished up and it was renewed for a fourth, but with showrunner and creator Dan Harmon getting the boot. With new writers and a crummy timeslot fans have been feeling pretty tense, especially with shameless delays that put Hunger Games and Hallowe’en themed episodes months late. Then came the news that cast member Chevy Chase would be leaving the show partway through the season. All in all it’s not been easy keeping our spirits up.
After more months of waiting than necessary we have now received the first episode of the new season, and fears about the quality of the show continue to go unfounded (now it’s just NBC we worry about). The episode begins in true Community fashion with reference being made to the politics surrounding the show by presenting it in a much more cliched sitcom many complete with a ‘live’ audience, laugh tracks, banner ads and a limited camera range. This is, naturally in Abed’s head as part of his ‘therapy’ from Britta, and it’s a place he returns to throughout the episode as a way of dealing with the knowledge that this is the last year the have together at Greendale. Most amusingly is the replacement of Chevy Chase as Pierce with Fred Willard.
Running parallel to this story is another plot concerning the ‘History of Ice-Cream’ class that they all wanted to enrol in, but a hacking (into the supply closest) has caused the cause to be over-booked. The Dean initiates the ‘Hunger Deans’ as a way for students to compete for the chance to be in the class. This is a fun story, mostly focused on Jeff and his announcement that he only needs this one last class to graduate. It sees the return of regulars Leonard, Fat Neil and the unexpected re-appearance of Asian Annie. The final scene between Jeff and the Dean certainly promises good things to come.
The only notable absence is Chang, who turns up in the closing scene. The honest truth is that his lack of screen time in this episode wasn’t even noticed. Change has always been the weak link in the series, and since the first season the writers seem to be at a lose as to what to do with him, and the routine got stale a long time ago.
Fans of the series will not be disappointed with the debut of the new season. Plenty of the usual quirks, oddballs and surrealism tied together with that unique style of humor that made the show a cult favorite.