After a really disappointing season 4, Community returned last night, with original show-runner Dan Harmon back at the helm, and it was… really great actually. Maybe not the best it’s ever been, but I certainly found myself laughing a lot. It was clever, it was absurd, it was sweet, and most of all it felt like the same Community I fell in love with back in 2010. I’m referring of course to the disastrous season 4 production, in which NBC fired Dan Harmon, stalled production by 3 months, and then released 12 episodes that oscillated between mildly chuckle-worthy and depressingly groan-inducing. “Perhaps cancellation would have been kinder,” some of us lamented, “compared to this slow decline into mediocrity.”
Indeed, when the news of Dan Harmon’s rehiring surfaced, many fans wondered whether the entire previous season would be retconned, or shooed away as some Imagginarium-inspired fever dream. Instead, the show has been, as the wonderfully meta Abed points out, “re-piloted”. Characters have been shuffled around into different roles. Jeff is now a teacher at the college, Pierce is gone, and Troy is leaving soon. And the other members of the study group have all returned to school after a tough time in the jobs market. To be honest, it felt a little forced, but the content was so fresh and funny again, that I happily overlooked it.
The best part, however, is the addition of Jonathon Banks (who played Mike in Breaking Bad) to the main cast, effectively replacing Chevy Chase as the group’s crotchety old geezer. I love the actor, and I’m intrigued by the idea of opening up the “teacher scene” of the college. Anyway, I hope the show continues on its upward bend, and that we actually have some classic Community episodes to look forward to (rather than back on).
Check out the Season 5 trailer here: