It’s time for more Brief Reviews. Kind of seems like this is all I’m doing lately. That’s not so bad. I like reviewing stuff and keeping in that spirit, here’s my look back at the latest season of NBC’s Community.
Community was the subject of many a blog and internet discussion this past season due to NBC’s treatment of the show. First, they decided to put the show on indefinite hiatus half-way through the season, only to bring it back two months later. Because of this delay the finale consisted of the last three episodes clumsily thrown together on the same day. Then a few days after the finale, it was announced that original show-runner Dan Harmon had been fired and it may or may not have had something to do with his feud with Chevy Chase last year. This also came mere days after the show was renewed for a shorter fourth season with only 13 episodes moved to a Friday night slot. In other words, they’re killing the show. Friday is death row for TV series.
So, all the random news and speculation aside, let’s try and look at Season 3 of what I think is one of the best comedy programs currently on TV. For those who haven’t seen it, Community is about a study group at Greendale Community College, basically the lowest of the low where post-secondary education is concerned. Beyond that, I’d have to get into all the characters and their back-stories and this is called “Brief Reviews” after all. I don’t have all night. Really, if you want to know more, watch the show. The first two seasons are utterly fantastic. The problem is that the third season doesn’t quite hold up. It’s not entirely bad, but compared to the ground-breaking first two seasons it just doesn’t entirely hold its own.
The main problem is with the episode pacing. Seasons one and two had a nice balance between crazy, quirky episodes and episodes that simply revolved around the study group actually doing school-work. Sure the ones about school-work were never quite as entertaining, but they were necessary. They made the other episodes seem more special when they did show up. Season three seems to focus almost entirely on making quirky episodes, many of which borrow ideas recycled from the first two seasons. There were also issues with character balance, focusing too much on some of the cast, while shoving others aside, especially poor Chevy Chase, who seemed to be punished with less screen time by Harmon after their dispute.
The worst culprit for poor execution is the blanket fort two-parter. It, like many other episodes this season, is better in concept and never quite reaches the heights of grandeur that it wants to reach. That’s not to say that every episode was disappointing. Some of them were ingenious and a few of them may be ranked among the best the show ever had. Highlights included a chaos theory episode where 7 different alternate realities are presented depending on who answered the door for pizza, an episode that takes place almost entirely inside a fake video game, and a Christmas special that riffs on Glee so perfectly I was practically rolling on the floor (maybe not as funny to people who didn’t sit through the first two seasons of Glee like I did). There were still many moments here worth watching over and over.
Season three may not have been as great as the first two, but it’s still a worthy successor and I hope the fourth (last) season doesn’t suck. I give Community three and a half briefs out of five.