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.
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.