Guys, I’m sorry. When The Office debuted its final season last year, I didn’t have very nice words for it. While the show is a bit like a soda that’s gone flat, I can still enjoy the concluding tales of Scranton’s best paper shop on a weekly basis. All things in perspective though, I was probably too harsh because if the premiere for Community’s latest season is any indication, I hope they box this show up and toss it six feet under fast.
You might be familiar with the drama surrounding the show. After renewing the show for a fourth season, Sony fired the show’s creator and primary creative force Dan Harmon. Over the years, the show had evolved from a kind of college dramedy as we chased who Winger was dating or Annie’s personal problems to some kind of whirlwind of ‘what the fuck’. Outrageous plots fell into line involving John Goodman as the pernicious dean of the air conditioning school or Abed’s deeply rooted fictional pop reference fantasies. I enjoyed the move because it allowed for some incredibly subversive humor and clever cultural tropes without being too on the nose. At times it would get repetitive as shows would flash between seven different versions of the same story, but at its worse, it was still better than what I saw earlier today.
Community is done.
In the season four premiere, History 101, Dean Pelton has erected a history class called The Hunger Deans in which the person who retrieves all seven red balls during a series of physical challenges earns the right to finish the class. While Winger struggles through these, the rest of the team does other ‘wacky’ stuff. Chevy Chase, who has long said that he hates the show, drools throughout the episode, visibly uninterested in having any part of this new vision. Annie and Shirley run around campus hatching boring pranks while Troy and Britta have a touchy-feely relationship kept in place by Abed’s awkward rules. As for Abed, well, the show regularly flashes into his brain, Inception-style, to reveal some secondary metashow capped by could-not-be-less-funny laugh tracks. They can’t even use them ironically right.
All of this kinda sounds like a recap of a season 3 episode, right? Sure, but imagine never laughing at the show once. If you’re Chevy Chase, this won’t be anything different, but for the legion of Community fans, myself included, who had been clamoring for some new stuff for close to a year, this is purely fangless entertainment. While maintaining some of the ridiculousness of Community past, it retains none of its smart humor. This is a joyless pantomime of something that was great and while I’ll give the show another stab or two, I have the terrible feeling in the depth of my gut that everything has gone horribly wrong with Dan Harmon’s replacements.