I have to admit it—and I’m guilty of this, too: it’s become sort of en vogue to hate on the fourth season of Community. But we also have to admit that doing so is sort of, well, lazy; we all know Dan Harmon has left the building, and some of these episodes have been less than brilliant, often missing that madcap spark of creativity we’ve come to respect and love.
With that in mind, let’s give it up: last night’s episode has been the best offering of the season thus far, by a gigantic margin. Other episodes have given us little sparkles of the “good ol’ days,” but this one felt like it very much belonged amidst the peculiar and wonderful moments of seasons 1-3. Abed’s documentary episodes always provide for a lot of fun, and they definitely give insight into and are driven by one of the most unique and potentially hard-to-write characters on prime time tv. This particular assessment of “Changnesia” (I still hate that word) had real bits of lovable, laugh-out-loud entertainment; when in doubt, have Britta suck at something, and I’m usually satisfied. Add in the Annie/Troy detective team and Shirley’s “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” and I’m set.
We also get, for perhaps the first time this season, what’s become a staple of this show: the Jeff Winger freakout. It’s easy to forget that Jeff is somehow the nuttiest of the bunch, and him planting a big smacky kiss on Chang’s ex backfired, as Jeff’s plans often do. This, of course, brought us back to a theme of the show: Jeff is terrified of being alone, and yet often engineers it. When Community is over and done with, I think that’s going to be one of those college-course things to examine throughout the show’s run—the fascinating self-sabotage of Jeff Winger.
I think the thing that’s made me saddest about this season is what an empty shell Pierce has become; we all have heard the stories of Chevy Chase’s spectacularly dramatic exit, and it’s not really a surprise when he’s being written without much point or interest. This new team doesn’t know what to do with Pierce, and he’s marginalized and all but removed from the gang already. And while Annie and Shirley feel very much like they should, one more “aw” and I’m throwing a shoe at the tv.
With those points in mind, I’m happy to say that Community finally feels like Community. There have been points this season where I just couldn’t say that, and here we are. And the tag at the end was cute and pretty funny; I mean, we all knew Chang was bluffing, but it was still a neat little bit with his phone.
We’ve got seven episodes left, friends, and a few big guest stars and the removal of Pierce ahead of us. What do you think? What are you hopeful for? What do you fear? See you in seven days!