Sunday, 17 February 2013

Community returns to TV!

Community started up again this month, and that’s all kinds of a good thing. Having had to cruelly wait nearly four months for the was-to-be-October-19th season 4 debut, anticipation levels for the new season were as high as could be.

Community has always been a show which is constantly changing. As Abed himself says, “I remember when this show was about a community college.” Those early episodes of the Study Group having homework assignments due for Spanish class are long gone, with neither of these opening episodes paying more than lip service to the idea the group are studying history this season. This isn’t unexpected. After introducing Omar-From-The-Wire as a biology teacher last year, the show completely wasted any potential humour hidden there. Instead, Community went off onto a wacky tangent about Troy being head-hunted by the AC Repair school. The Study Group are that only in name, and have been for a few years now, and so worrying that the new season will focus less on their College lives feels a moot point.

The reason for the extra scrutiny this time around, comes from the departure of show-runner Dan Harmon from the series. The much talked about animosity between Chevy Chase (Pierce) and Harmon, with the wrap party public spat and embarrassing drunk dial debacle, ultimately led to Harmon leaving the show and Chevy Chase sticking around for this fourth season before also parting company.

Having a show-runner leave the show is by no means the final nail in the coffin for a program often rumoured to be in danger of cancellation. The West Wing continued on without Sorkin, Larry David left Seinfeld and Amy Sherman-Palladino left Gilmore Girls. The loss of Dan Harmon may actually free the show to move in a new direction. While the tone of the show was definitely set by Dan Harmon, the characters themselves have been rather directionless of late. Shirley has been poorly used, Britta and Annie have been devoid of momentum in their personal arcs for a long time now. Last season’s over-reliance on Tory & Abed was what made this most apparent, with those two being given most of the main plots and character development.

A new season brings new opportunities for Community to grow, and with Dan Harmon moved on from the project, this could actually allow the breathing room the show needed just as it was beginning to stagnate. In some ways it reminds me of the new life which was breathed into Star Trek after Gene Roddenberry stepped down, with Berman & Piller taking over. Hopefully the tenure of David Guarascio and Moses Port will do the same for Community.

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