S3E1: You come to expect a certain level of sheer awesomeness from Dan Harmon’s creation, especially when it returns after such a long hiatus, but last night’s Community was just alright. Granted, for an episode of Community, just alright is still damn good. We basically witness Jeff’s sudden downward spiral as a result of the whole Pierce issue. It seems a little out of left field for a premiere episode, especially for a show that tends to rely less on a continuous story and more on continuous random details – trust me, that makes sense if you watch the show regularly. Even so, we saw an enjoyable episode for the show’s return and it truly serves to make us curious about what’s in store this season.
“We’re gonna have more fun and be less weird than the last two years combined.” –Everyone’s song in Jeff’s Dream
After shirking his study group multiple times last year, Jeff is suddenly getting a little mental, obsessing over the group’s relationship and the fact that Pierce is no longer apart of it. (He didn’t sign up for Biology last year.) When Pierce returns, Jeff gives this whole speech about evolving and how they’re friends and don’t need the group in order to hang out. Of course, this only holds true as long as he’s part of the group.
When Professor Michael King (The Wire’s Michael K. Williams, no the K doesn’t stand for King, so don’t get any ideas) kicks Jeff out of Biology, Pierce gets his spot because he’s on the waitlist. Using his own “evolved” argument against him, Annie says it doesn’t matter if they study together, they’re still friends. Of course that’s not good enough for Jeff, who descends into full madness. He sees a photo on King’s desk and thinks he’s nabbed Pierce for getting him kicked out of the class, but it turns out the photo isn’t of King. Busted. Just before he tries to bring this up to the group, he follows Chang into the vents where the Dean is trying to spray for monkeys (you know, because of Annie’s Boobs) and gets hopped up on the monkey gas. This means we see Jeff go full “Here’s Johnny” on the table with an axe. After a back and forth wherein Pierce lies and says he paid King to kick Jeff out, they finally agree to let it all go, even though Jeff royally screwed up. Though Starburns’ Breaking Bad proposition gets him booted from Bio (and we an assume Jeff is back in), it would seem that Jeff’s demons will rear their ugly heads again.
It was a bit dark and a bit of a end of season episode, but there’s something inherently hilarious about seeing Jeff Winger get so wound up and rattled that it worked. The episode doesn’t quite feel complete, though that might be because we witnessed all the best parts in the commercials – apparently they do that TV shows now too.
“If I wanted to run a monkey hotel, I’d open a banana buffet.” –Dean
Somehow Jim Rash (the Dean) can make absolutely anything hilarious – even the absurd discussion about Annie’s Boobs. This year, he’s decided that things are going to be better, more serious, different. That starts with stopping the study group’s “National Lampoonery” and step one is exterminating Annie’s Boobs, who now lives in the vents. As he goes along on his mission, he pulls aside the new Vice Dean Laybourne of the Air Conditioning school annex (John Goodman), but he has no idea what he just stepped into. Though we saw basically every ounce of Goodman’s stellar and terrifying speech long before the episode ever aired, it’s an interesting addition to the Greendale dynamic.
It turns out that the AC school earns more cash than all of Greendale, which means Dean Laybourne can hold all those funds over Dean Pelton’s head. They strike a new deal, which basically results in Greendale being completely broke – he even has to lay off the security guards.
Like a little weasley angel, Chang falls from the AC vents (how appropriate) and the Dean sees an excuse to have Chang work for free as a security guard in exchange for living at the school (in the vents?).
This portion would have been more enjoyable had more of it been a surprise, but it’s great set-up for the rest of the season, so let’s hope they keep the evil Goodman coming.
“You are a pizza burn on the roof of the world’s mouth; you are the opposite of Batman.” –Troy
The most enjoyable part of the entire episode was Abed finding out that Cougar Town was moved to mid-season and his subsequent pterodactyl-esque reaction. As TV fanatics, we understand Abed’s exacerbated pain – maybe not in that shrill, shrieking tone, but we feel it. When Britta feeds his addiction with a British mini-series (a thinly veiled parody of Downton Abbey) and he’s once again dropped into despair when it’s over, the group seeks a series that can satiate Abed’s unending need for serialized television. This is also known as that 2 a.m. moment where you search furiously through the recommended Netflix series on Instant Watch in hopes of some form of new attachment. Of course, none of us deal with as disturbingly and hilariously as Abed does.
Finally, the group settles on a new addition that will last Abed ages: Inspector Spacetime. (Once again, a thinly-veiled parody of Doctor Who, the nerdiest nerd show of all time.) The series is still running and it has 26 seasons for Abed to devour – which is just about perfect. Are you trying to tell us that Doctor Who is a TV nerd’s delight, Community writers? I guess it sort of is, so we’ll allow it.
The episode as a whole could have been better, but it seems that the writers are setting up various pieces for the entire season, instead of just jumping into sudden antics. Perhaps this season really will challenge the barriers of the show we know and love, and if the past has taught us anything, playing with Communty’s barriers is just about the best thing they could possibly do.