After what was arguably the longest summer break in television history, Greendale Community College reopened on Thursday night. But did Community‘s first post-Dan Harmon offering leave you feeling cool, cool, cool, Human Beings? Or perhaps a little cold?
We’re eager to hear your thoughts on the cult fave’s comeback, but first, here’s the deal, Jessica Biel (thanks, Britta):
A majority of the season opener consists of a show-within-a-show — a multi-cam comedy called Abed’s Happy Community College Show, to be exact. Some quality (?) therapizing from Britta prompts Danny Pudi’s alter ego to retreat to his happy place (the aforementioned imaginary sitcom) when he can’t deal with all of the change afoot in the real world — a trigger that Jeff sets off in abundance during the half hour.
It turns out the group leader needs just one more history credit to graduate early, and Abed & Co. are none to pleased about that prospect. The main concern from all parties involved is that if someone leaves campus — and thus the group — will the friendships remain intact? Still, Jeff competes in a “Hunger Deans” battle for the coveted enroll code that will make his college transcripts complete — that is until “New Jeff” wins out and chooses Abed’s well-being over his own desires. (Don’t worry, Dean ultimately creates another history course for Jeff to take.)
Elsewhere in the episode:
• Funnyman Fred Willard plays Pierce to perfection in Abed’s Happy Community College Show
• Abed creates a show-within-a-show-within-a-show, as well. The result: the animated Greendale Babies, a spoof on the classic Muppet Babies.
• Britta and Troy, now officially a couple, attempt to create their own new traditions (without replacing those the latter already has with his other life partner, Abed).
• Annie calls her own future into question, confessing to Shirley that maybe everything she has planned isn’t really what she wants at all.
• Dean Pelton and Jeff Winger tango — and it’s glorious.
• A naked Chang reappears and is suffering from something he calls “Changnesia.” He also now goes by the name “Kevin.”
It was a jam-packed 30 minutes with tons of laughs and countless creative gags, but the question remains: Was it still the Community you’ve known and loved for three seasons? Or could you feel the absence of the series’ creator Harmon — who, as you well know, was replaced at the end of last season by veteran comedy writers David Guarascio and Moses Port?
My opinion: The show is certainly still funnier than most and boasts one of the most talented ensembles in recent memory. The episode — written by longtime Community scribe Andy Bobrow — did have a slightly different feel than in years past, but not by much. That said, it’s still far too early to know whether or not Greendale has been changed forever, or if this is just the same, beloved story narrated by someone(s) new. For now, I’m reserving judgement and pledging my allegiance to Community‘s E Pluribus Anus flag and everything that comes with it.
What say you, TVLiners? Hit the poll below to let us know what grade you give Community, then back up your grade in the comments!