Community Senior Year: Season Premiere Reminds Us Why This Show Needs To Be On TV

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As if the summer hiatus wasn’t enough of a struggle for Community fans, season four of our favorite Thursday night comedy got delayed an extra four months because apparently NBC doesn’t recognize a good show when they see it. However, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and having to wait forever for Community to come back seemed to make the season premiere extra sweet.

Community is still as crazy as ever. The episode opens with Abed imagining a cheesy sitcom, Abed’s Happy Community College Show, complete with multiple cameras and the constant drone of a laugh track. The theme special theme song to Abed’s Happy Community College Show was adorable, and was instantly stuck in my head. These hilarious meta-television references are really the heart of Community. In this alternate show, Fred Willard is playing Pierce, which is meant to be a joke, but he was actually immediately funnier than Chevy Chase, so I guess the joke’s on Chevy. Can Fred Willard be a recurring character on the show now that Chevy Chase has walked out in the middle of season four? I vote yes. Chevy Chase was never funny on the show and he is casting a gloomy shadow on the cast's amazing real-life friendship. Who knows? Maybe adding a new cast member will give Community the ratings boost it needs.

The best part of this show has always been the chemistry between the cast and the crazy antics that go on. Both were in high supply in the season premiere. This year, the gang’s last class together is going to be The History of Ice Cream. But, when they get to class, they find out that it is massively overbooked. And so, of course, the only way to choose who will be in the class is through THE HUNGER DEANS. That’s right, Dean Pelton dons a red dress and a wig to announce that contestants can compete to win a ticket into the class (a red ball marked by his distinct bite print, what else?). I'm always a fan of the Dean's propensity for cross-dressing, so seeing him ride in on a chariot pulled by two fully grown men in unicorn costumes was definitely the visual highlight of the episode.

In his usual selfish ways, Jeff admits that he took some extra classes online and is only one history credit away from graduating early, and getting into this class is his only chance. What a betrayal! To redeem himself in the eyes of his friends, “New Jeff” selflessly promises to win seven red balls so the study group can all take their last class together. Jeff starts winning balls rapidly, and Pierce spends the entire episode trying to think of a “balls” joke. I am really tired of his half-baked story lines. Pierce was never a good character and he's only dragging down the show at this point.

Jeff’s smooth-talking, intrigue-filled tango with the Dean was the best part of the whole episode. Literally anything that Jim Rash does as Dean Pelton is flawless. Jeff gets the Dean to admit that he counterfeited the admission cards himself in an attempt to prevent Jeff from leaving Greendale.

Meanwhile, everyone starts feeling concerned for Abed, who is so far inside his own head that he’s been staring into space for the whole episode. Deciding that he doesn’t like what “New Jeff” has become, Jeff comes to the rescue, abandoning the Hunger Deans to give the glorious speech that will finally pull Abed back from the depths of his mind. But before he can open his mouth, Abed steals his thunder by imagining the speech for him. It is inspiring, and everything turns out fine. Except for the fact that Jeff never won the seventh ball. And so, the gang starts their Senior year without being able to take a class together for the first time, but it seems like they’ll be okay anyway. Because, as Jeff says in the speech that he never really got to make: “Even if we go somewhere, we’re not going anywhere.” Only Community could write a speech that is both inspirational and depressing.

But wait! Soon after, the Dean corners Jeff in his apartment (revealing that he has just moved in next door) and apologizes for everything, telling Jeff that Greendale will be offering another history class after all. Will Jeff be tempted to graduate early after all and leave his friends behind? I predict that “New Jeff” will only last an episode. But I can predict with confidence that the Jeff and Dean Pelton as neighbors dynamic will be hilarious for the entire season. I can't wait for the Dean to start planning mandatory slumber parties and attempting to communicate sweet nothings to Jeff by knocking in Morse Code on the wall.

Also, apparently Professor Chang has Changnesia. Don’t worry, you’re not missing anything. Hopefully more explanation to come from Community season four!

(Photo: Zap2It)