The cult favorite television show, Community, about the hijinks of a group of grown people trying college again at Greendale Community College with a colorful slew of students and faculty, has returned back to the peacock network, NBC. The show is returning for its fourth season after a 4-month delay from when it was supposed to air in early October. Fans were worried that the firing of show-runner and creator, Dan Harmon, and the departure of many of the show’s writers may affect the quality show. The worrying was rightly needed because it wasn’t completely faulty.
After two episodes, the show feels different. Any fan of the show can notice that. It isn’t exactly the same show as last year’s. The humor is broader, the situations more generic, and less laughs are being had. But before you write Community off, there is still hope. Although the show feels a bit different without Harmon and such favorites as writer/actor Dino Stamatopoulos (who’s character Alexander “Starburns” made a shocking resurrection on the Season 3 finale), the show isn’t terrible so far. It would take a hell of a lot of bad writers to make Community terrible. Even though the humor feels a little more forced, Greendale is still mostly the same place. The show’s quick wit, pop cultural references, self-referential jokes (such as a very funny line spoken by Danny Pudi’s Abed, “I remember when this show was about community college.”), and eccentric characters are still there and are playing mostly to form. One thing I respect about Community is its disinterest in trying to bring in new viewers who haven’t seen previous seasons and playing to the fan crowd, because they understand it isn’t worth it. I am glad that this is still being honored. This reworked Community may just need a little time to regain its bearings or sea legs if you will. The one thing that may dissuade fans is the departure of Dan Harmon and Chevy Chase, which put a bad taste in NBC’s mouth. Chevy cursed sitcoms as the trash of TV and used racial slurs on set and then signed some papers and left the show making the fourth season Pierce Hawthorne’s last.
But the fans aren’t the only ones worried about Community Season Four’s fate. The new writers of Season 4 added to the writing team, which still includes two writers from previous seasons, are very worried about messing up the show. New writer Megan Ganz, not particularly reassuring, advises that, “Before you watch Season 4, watch all of your least-favorite episodes of Season 3.” Andy Bobrow, Steve Basilone, Tim Saccardo, and Megan were all very concerned that they are “breaking the show” after writing each script for Season 4.
But with the problems, Season 4 also brings about much excitement. The Halloween episode aired on Thursday revealed that Jeff (Joel McHale) has had his father’s (who Jeff has never met) number for a few months after Britta manages to use her psychology class tactics on him. The end of the episode saw Jeff taking a deep breath and dialing the phone. It was announced in 2012 that Jeff’s father would be played by James Brolin (the father of the extremely busy actor, Josh Brolin). There are also a few intriguing episodes coming up including an episode about the group going to an Inspector Spacetime convention and another student film by Abed.
The viewing of Season 4 is also a mystery so far. The first episode of the season saw an influx of people watching. But alas, good things don’t last forever with episode 2 seeing a massive drop in viewers. The fate of episode 3 and the rest of the season is unknown for now.
Other fans may feel differently, but I really hope Community isn’t cancelled. But I would rather have it be cancelled than see it lose its wonderful spirit. With an influx of annoyingly snarky and quick-witted shows on television, Community stands out as one of my favorite TV shows, and I respect it a great deal. I love its humor, and I find the pop cultural reference riotous. I will continue to watch even through the worst. I hope that it will be renewed if it remains good. If it is bad and it is cancelled, it will have had a pretty good run. All we can hope for is that in the next year or so when we wake up and get some coffee, the mug will still say, “Troy and Abed in The Morning” on it.
Let’s hope for six seasons and a movie.