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Community Review: Trying to Harmon-ize

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The Community Season 4 premiere was saddled with one of the strangest set-ups any episode will ever face: aside from being delayed multiple months, it took on the challenge of replacing a showrunner with which almost all viewers were familiar.

Dan Harmon is gone, a majority of fans were stunned to learn that news and they were similarly afraid that such a change would alter the unique aspects of Community we've all grown to love.

Community Season 4 Premiere Pic

So how did "History 101" deal with such a task? By addressing it straight-on, of course. By going Ultimate Meta. Even for Community.

We were told on numerous occasions that change was the theme of the episode. There’s something changed, Troy said at one point. I don't know why I was so worried about change. This year's gonna be great, Dean Pelton exclaimed toward the end.

And in between Aben went into his own universe, but this one was an extreme version of what scared many viewers the most: that, without Harmon, Community would simply become another generic sitcom... without the controversial Chevy Chase, that is.

The concept was ridiculous and hilarious, but it also tried a bit too hard to wink at the audience, to let fans who keep up with the show online know that the new creators (Moses Port and David Guarascio) were aware of their fears and were going out of their way to assure us all that it would be okay.

Abed would continue to be whacky; the Dean would continue to arrange absurd challenges and gawk at Jeff; Annie would continue to be more wholesome than she realized; Pierce would continue to be hated on; and so on.

I can understand where they were coming from, but the episode felt forced. It felt like exactly what it was: two guys, taking over for one guy, and trying as hard as possible to prove they were going to be just as silly as that guy.

The Shirley/Annie prank storyline was fun, and putting Troy and Britta officially together has a lot of potential. And it's beyond a thrill to just have these amazing characters back in our lives. But now that Port and Guarascio have made their statement about what sort of Community they'' be helming, let's hope they no longer feel a need to prove themselves and simply let these crazy individuals be their crazy selves on a weekly basis.

Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
  • 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.9 / 5.0 (113 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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Huge Community fan, first off. I have been anticipating this episode for what seems like a year, and I was really worried (of course) about the show's new direction. So I've watched this episode 3 times now. The first time I watched it, I had so many pent up, preconceived notions that it would be so bad that I could really pay attention. But at the end, I felt like it wasn't so bad. Second time I watched it, I thought it was really good. Again, for a premier episode of a season, this one was pretty good. Yes, a lot was going on, but I felt like the story was laying the ground work for the follow episodes to come. And there is so much potential here! However, there are sooo many negative reviews about this episode that its saddening. Seriously, people - watch it again. Get over the fact that Dan is gone. Compare like with like - and I mean, compare this episode with the previous 3 season openers, and its actually not that bad. (4 out of 5 stars from me)

Childish gambino

So disappointed. Cant believe i waited so long for this trash. I think this is easily the Worst Community episode to date. I dont get what anybody saw in this episode

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i'm such a fan of this show and was so excited for its return, but this episode was disappointing. there was way too much going on. i had heard about the Hunger Deans thing and i thought that was genius, but it was just a small part of the show. they should've focused on one theme Hunger Deans or the Abed sitcom thing or the prank storyline. any of those could've been a show theme in itself. i'm glad it's back, but i hope they get more focused.

Joyeful

@ShellytheTurtle - you're totally right. But I'm not saying that the whole episode had to a hardcore pastiche of the Hunger Games. I'm saying that it had to have a point, a real point - especially when it's so obvious. Having a Hunger Games reference just so Dean Pelton can wear a ballroom dress isn't like Community. @Lee - Troy and Britta dating was always the plan. I listen to Dan Harmon's podcast (Harmontown), and even he's said at the end of season 3 that it was obvious that Troy and Britta liked each other.

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@Lee, Troy and Britta dating has been a long time coming. It was hinted many times last season, I'm curious to see where the writers take it..

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The beginning of the episode freaked me out when I heard the laugh track. "This isn't Community" was my initial thought but thankfully it was just Abed's happy place. The laugh track just felt so out of place for the show. But I'm so happy it's back, Happy October 19 everybody :)

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@joyeful - Yes, those specific episodes you listed were focused. But not every episode of Community in the past has been narrowly focused in it's references. I'd say the majority of them have not.

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I loved this episode. Ever since that one brief laugh track when Abed takes the Who's the Boss class, I've wanted to see a Community episode poking fun at laugh track sitcoms. I thought it was really funny and didn't come off forced at all. I felt like Jeff was a little off at times, but no more so than things have felt off in some season 1 - 3 episodes.

Fortyseven

A poor start.

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