Every fan of Community had a reason to worry heading into show’s fourth season. NBC and Sony had removed the show’s creator Dan Harmon from the show. That certainly diminished any celebration of the existence of a season 4. Community was Dan Harmon’s baby, he lent this unique voice to the show and he understood the characters and the story he wanted to tell, better than anyone else would.
To add salt on the wounds, NBC removed Community from it’s October 19, air date (which became this running gag that the cast even took part in) to February 7. With it’s Halloween episode airing in February and the Thanksgiving episode in March. On top of that, Chevy Chase was again causing problems and finally departed from the show entirely.
Through all of this, I could not help but feel bad for the new showrunners, David Guarascio and Moses Port. They would be seen as his replacement and although they wrote for other shows, such as Happy Endings and Aliens in America, they would still have to prove themselves to Community’s fan base. The amount of scrutiny that they would have to endure, is something no writer could match up to. Their job would be a thankless one, with people wanting the Community that Dan Harmon created during his three years.
They didn’t completely disappoint, with a season that had some obvious highs and lows. Don’t get me wrong, even when Dan Harmon was showrunning, there were episodes that weren’t that good but I found that this season had a lot more of them. With episodes coming across as fan serving instead of trying to tell an actual story. It didn’t help that Community was only 13 episodes this season, giving Guarascio and Port and their team of writers even less time to find their groove and settle in.
Season 4 started out strong, with a premier episode that addressed many of the audiences concerns and tried to put their minds at ease, that this is the same Community that we all love. Abed imagining Greendale as a traditional sitcom, complete with a laugh track is one of our biggest fears for this show isn’t it. I mean, if NBC can go and change the format for Up All Night, then was Community really safe. After that episode though, I felt the quality diminishes for a couple episodes.
The episode, “Conventions of Space and Time,” was one of least favourite episodes of the season. It may have sounded good on paper to take the Greendale gang to an Inspector Spacetime convention but nothing really big or great happened to them. Matt Lucas, as a guest star, was underused and Alison Brie’s Annie was frustrating to watch in that episode and through out the season. Her childish crush on Jeff felt more amped up this season and it felt like character had regressed instead of progressed. They even poked fun of this in the brilliant episode, Basic Human Anatomy, which had Troy and Abed seemingly switching bodies and the Dean pretending that he and Jeff also had switched. So, even the writers knew that Annie was just being strange. Also didn’t Annie’s crush on Jeff end in Season 3.
Speaking of the Dean, Jim Rash was the easy standout this season. The Oscar winning writer also wrote the previously mentioned, “Basic Human Anatomy,” he added weight to the episode by addressing Britta and Troy’s relationship as a couple and giving it a good conclusion, even though it was completely ignored in the middle of the season. Rash was also insanely hilarious through out, giving us an amazing impression of Jeff, his dance with Jeff, and all the small details he brought to his character.
Everyone else of the cast was great too, giving fine performances. Troy and Abed are always fun to watch and these characters are so defined and lovable that it’s hard to find any fault in them. I have to mention Pierce. Chevy Chase randomly disappears during the middle of the season and honestly he wasn’t missed. It’s been clear for a long time that he did not want to be part of the show and that he did not even like the show as whole. I just wish he could been around more so that they could properly tie up his character instead of his out of blue announcement that he was leaving. Just glad he won’t be a factor anymore.
The remainder of the episodes were fine but with much ups and downs. There were several good episodes but nothing ever reached to the same highs of the last season. The Chang documentary episode, the puppet episode and Christmas episode were the best. All of these episode delivered on several laughs and clever moments.
Community is still a fun show, filled with lovable characters. It continues to give us unique and special moments on TV that are both imaginative and risky, which it probably why Community has earned its cult status. I’m so happy that Community got renewed for a fifth season, this show keeps defying the odds, and I’m also ecstatic that Dan Harmon is returning to the show. It continues to prove that this show still has life in it and I’m excited to see what season 5 has in store for us.
Score: 7 out of 10