Community has certainly been through a wild ride yet maintaining enough popularity to stop it from dying, like a damaged motor trying it’s best to keep driving because everyone demands to see it race again and again; sooner or later we have to accept the fact that this car has had so many parts replaced that it’s no longer the car we fell in love with.
Now that Chevy Chase, Donald Glover, Yvette Nicole Brown and the highly underused John Oliver and Jonathan Banks have left the show, it’s missing a lot of the original chemistry and ultimately suffers because of it. While newcomers Keith David and Paget Brewster are entertaining new characters with their own identities rather than just place holding previous characters, they really are the make-up on this Frankenstein show.
However, it seems the show’s worse critic is the show itself. With Abed’s continued meta shtick, which surprisingly can still make me laugh after all this time, in the season finale the group begin self-analysing the implausibility of a 7th season. A whole episode, a season finale no less, dedicated to how unlikely it is that they will continue into another season works to some degree, but really shouldn’t. The whole tone of the episode is ‘will we be back? Ahhhhh maybe, possibly’, and while I accept that is the only angle they can approach the season finale, since no one knows if it’ll return and it what form, doesn’t mean that I have to like to it. Though I will give the season finale some credit, it does end on one of the (if not, the) funniest meta jokes they’ve ever pulled.
They also tease a movie at the end, which Joel McHale has stated he’d be happy to do as long as Dan Harmon wrote it, and it would be a great chance to end the whole series with some actual closure. Plus, small side note, Justin Roiland (Morty) has a voice cameo and it is fantastic.
So how does the rest of the season hold up? Well as I said, the previous chemistry is gone (replaced with a new, different one). At it’s best it was very funny and quite brilliant, at it’s worst it was still just ok. A few episodes do fail to make any kind of impact, they’re more rather a series of events that take up 30 minutes. A lot of the material comes back to self-referencing the first four seasons, and while this can work great as there is a clever paintball episode where the joke is about how messy the first two were, a lot of the gags just remind me how much I miss the original seasons. Yet, there are shiny gems, my personal favourite episode is when they have to create a 80 minute film using 3 minutes of footage, the creativity is outstanding there.
Jim Rash as the Dean continues to be perfect, though what annoys me is that they’ve created an episode focusing on the Dean’s sexuality. The school request that he becomes openly gay, but he claims that gay is just like a sixth of what he truly is. This might just be my opinion but a lot of fun from Jim Rash’s character was drawn from the fact that we didn’t know his sexual preferences? We knew he had attractions to Jeff, but the hints to a wider sexual orientation and fetishists were humourous in and of themselves, and while the episode never fully answers the question of what he is, even asking the question seemed too obvious for me.
Community has always been a smart show, Dan Harmon proves himself as a talented, intelligent and funny guy, if not for Community then for Rick and Morty (which returns in July, everyone). He’s not been given enough to work with to create something excellent so to say what came out of it was merely good is still high praise. It feels as if they’re flogging the hypothetical horse, especially now they’ve moved to Yahoo, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t life in the old horse yet.
(Editor’s note: Jeff was right, the Steel Drum Gag really did pay off)
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