Community - History 101 (2013)

Is Greendale's laugh factor history?

As the gang returns to Greendale for senior year, they are forced to fight to the not-so-death in The Hunger Deans to find a spot in a class called The History of Ice Cream.

Community has always been an underrated show, getting critical love and a solid fanbase, but always lacking in the ratings that make every year have fans wondering whether it'll be renewed for another season or not. After getting the go-ahead for a Fourth season, the happiness of fans was turned to dismay as NBC, in their ever-guiding wisdom, fired creator Dan Harmon and replaced him with David Guarascio and Moses Port from Happy Endings, which I never got into, and Aliens in America, which I never saw. While I cannot comment on the quality of Guarascio and Port's work, what I can say is that in this episode, the show didn't feel like the same one which I had been watching for the past three seasons.

Community is, first and foremost, a comedy show which would have to try hard to not make at least a couple of gags per episode that's worth laughing at, which is why it feels disappointing to see how fewer laughable moments there were in this weeks half-hour installment. In fact, the episode itself felt like it was back to the more sitcomy feel of the early season one episodes, with the Abed TV parody moments feeling more like a proper episode of Community that could feel more in place with the past three seasons (with an additional laugh track).

The subplots were poor, with Annie and Shirley's pranking feeling like it's there just as filler inbetween Abed TV and Jeff playing The Hunger Deans, Pierce trying to cook up a ball joke going exactly the way you'd expect it to and Troy & Britta's trip to make a wish at the fountain turning downright embarrassing.

There's a distinct lack of subtlety when it comes to Dean Pelton's attraction to Jeff, and making him Jeff's neighbor feels less like an excuse for laughs to come from the ever-reliable Jim Rash and more like an excuse for the Dean to play creepy stalker around Jeff.

This isn't to say that the episode was completely awful. Despite what I thought of the episode, the cast all managed to deliver brilliantly in their roles, especially Joel McHale beating up his fellow classmates and doing the tango with Jim Rash. I found myself enjoying Abed TV, with Fred Willard doing a better job as Pierce than Chevy Chase, the fake-show ads (American Swords Cooks should be a real show), Greendale Babies and I did love the below exchange.

“Troy wished we got Bin Laden and the Doritos Taco.”
“Yeah, but Obama got credit for both.”

Community returned with a disappointing installment. I do understand that there was bound to be problems with the show transitioning between showrunners, and I will at least give season four a chance rather than discard it after one episode. I do hope this is merely a glitch and the show will soon return to form with another great season, rather than have a season which is better ignored like Misfits series four, Scrubs series nine and the past 15 years of The Simpsons.