A new year means new columns, and one of said new columns is ‘Group Think’, where the three of us here at Pop Modern gather around and discuss a common, poignant event in contemporary pop culture. Think ‘Today in Pop Modern’, but with a common theme, and also even cooler.
The first installment of Group Think is going to be on the Community Season Five premiere, “Repilot”, which aired on January 2, 2014. All three of us have some level of connection to the show, so it felt appropriate to discuss what has been considered a return to form for the series. For a more critical review of the episode, look no further than The AV Club: http://www.avclub.com/review/repilotintroduction-to-teaching-106548
Allen: Community has been a fixture in my weekdays during the winter TV season for almost half a decade now. I was never particularly enamored with it, but it was the best sitcom on cable that I was watching at the time. To this day, it still holds a spot in my heart alongside Modern Family and How I Met Your Mother, but there’s something special about Community. It’s not just the meta humor or the constant callbacks and inside jokes; It’s the familiarity of the Greendale crew that kept me coming back. Even as their social positions shifted and relationships changed, there was always the same number of filled seats at the study table just about every week. Season Four was pretty depressing, but mostly because it put the characters in a position that didn’t lead to much comedy; away from each other. I can only remember individual scenes from Season Four, but episodes like the ones I mentioned in the Three By Three from earlier this week are ingrained in my mind. Season Five is a return to form, mainly in that the gang is back to doing what they do best. Troy is still getting a few jokes in before Donald Glover leaves the show, the school is returning to its usual levels of chaos, and it doesn’t feel any worse without Pierce. It’s not that I ever disliked Pierce as a character, but it became clear over time through reading about the show’s production that Chevy Chase was causing problems with the cast and writers. So I’m happy to see Community off this season or next as long as it keeps up this standard of quality, and I’m mostly just glad that Dan Harmon has finally returned to the series that he loves so much. It really shows in the heart and soul of the gang.
James: The reopening of Greendale was met with mixed reception. After the extremely disappointing season that last year produced, I thought that I had enough. Let it at least die with dignity, I thought to myself. The new episodes changed that. It wasn’t as though there was something particularly great about the episodes. They were standard fare. But the fact that the show showed its potential once more lifted my spirit. Once again, funny people cracked funny jokes, and even with an absent Chevy Chase, the humor goes on. Even in the face of Troy’s upcoming personal finale, the show still maintains an air of levity and wit, with self-referential quips intended to please fans who don’t mind breaking the fourth wall. True, the show could definitely have benefited from some script polishing, but I am willing to overlook some rough edges in the midst of an abrupt transition. Though the show is moving on in a different path with a different cast, I hope to enjoy walking through the halls of Greendale once again.
Magellan: I’m lucky to be among those who watched Community from the beginning, who grew and developed with the show. I remember, when I first started using Hulu, I stumbled upon a benign-looking sitcom about a group of community college students, and decided to give it a shot. The first couple episodes didn’t exactly thrill me, but hey, it was free and it had potential. So I stuck it out, and over the course of the next three years I enjoyed the show on a weekly basis, growing to love the characters and looking forward excitedly to what they would do next. I don’t want to rag too much on Season 4 (since, if you really want to criticize this show, you could say that many of its problems were rooted in Season 3), but there’s no denying that last season had a sense of emptiness to it. Really, the only stand-out moment was the episode where the Dean thought he and Jeff had switched bodies, but that’s not saying much. So, you can imagine my excitement at hearing that Season 5 had a chance at recapturing some of the show’s former glory. Having watched the first few episodes now, I must say, though I don’t care much for Dan Harmon as a person, he is clearly the one who understands Community best. These first two episodes were fairly straightforward sitcom fare, but they both buzzed with a kind of comfortable familiarity that was completely lacking last year. I was finally sold on this season by one of Troy’s one-liners: “If we sue Greendale, can I be a surprise witness? Wait…don’t tell me…” If they can keep churning out moments like that, then this season is going to be a lot of fun.
So there you go, everyone. We all enjoyed the pilot, and it’s only left us more excited to see where this crazy series is going in the future. What did YOU think about “Repilot”?