Study Group in Session!

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History 101

I know I skipped blogging yesterday – but I promise it was for a very good reason: Tonight was the premiere of season 4 on NBC!

Although I’m still a little wary, I definitely wasn’t disappointed. Things were a bit…awkward. I felt a little left out of the loop at first, with so many apparent developments having occurred since the end of the third season (*SPOILERS* & *MORE SPOILERS*). But, as usual, the gang was up to shenanigans and the Dean was effervescently inter-dean-ing with his brilliant solution to the overbooked class of History of Ice Cream: the Hunger Deans.

Jeff  (it’s no surprise that he’s been taking summer courses) seems new and improved, determined to win enough places in the history class for our Study Group, and he competes in the Hunger Deans while Pierce and Abed look on. It’s also no secret that Chevy Chase really wants his own age to reflect in Pierce’s changed character, and the season premiere gives us several hints of just that, perhaps foreshadowing an early end? Beside Pierce sits Abed, who in very Abed-like fashion is having trouble adjusting to the various changes, including the fact that this is their senior year.

(But of course, on the meta level, Abed is our bridge between the show and reality (which, if we go one level deeper, harkens us back to the psychology test that determined Abed the most sane, and in a sense, the most real): this is the first episode to air with only the line “Created by: Dan Harmon” as the reminder that this is actually a new – and most likely final – season of Community. Abed’s mental break downs and coping is a friendly, yet apologetic, plea on Guarascio’s and Port’s behalf to accept the changes on both the creative and administrative sides. Additionally, when Abed withdraws into his “happy place”, which in true Abed form requires laugh tracks, in his mind, Pierce isn’t played by Chevy Chase, yet again another shout-out to Chase’s desire to leave the show.)

Also true to the hints in the various interviews, this season is exploring more the interpersonal relationships, particularly between Britta and Troy…Maybe it’s just the deranged fan in me that wants to say there’s more to the relationship between the Dean and Jeff, too? (Oh, the sensual teasing of the tango!) Err…the spoiler that got away…

Anyway, so beyond the hipster glasses galore, which Donald Glover often sports outside of his role as Troy (as well as half the “cool”/”hipster” population of those fashion-aware these days), by the end of the episode, Abed is imbued with the calming realization that:

Change is always scary, but Abed brought the group together, which changed all of our lives. And we’ve changed each other. Things are going to keep changing, but we’ll keep being friends…Even if we go somewhere, we’re not going anywhere.

~Jeff Winger (More or less what he said as I was furiously typing…)

Meanwhile, a seemingly naked Chang has crawled out of whatever misguided hole he fell into at the end of last season, and he’s claiming Changnesia…And also that his name is Kevin (As in his real name) – dangit! There goes another spoiler, my bad. So, it’s nice and dandy and everything that our Study Group is all happy ponies and rainbows again, but what in the world do Guarascio and Port (and the rest of the cast) have in store for Chang? Has he truly been re-Chang-ed?

(Which on a reflective side note has me pausing to think that all in all the premiere must have gone well…I’m certainly itching for more!)

Look out for the premiere here!

(Oh, and should you want to know the spoilers, just hover your mouse over the links….)

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Since I’m a college student, I do that thing where I take college classes and write college papers – and occasionally, write college blogs – and it was about a year and a half ago that I was zoned into a world of Sociology, thunderously typing out a paper, when my friend who had first introduced me to Community yanked me out with world-rattling news: Community was being suspended, in the middle of its third season.

all hail the internet

Now, I am a fan of the internet, and the wide variety that the internet offers is probably how I can get up in the morning and why I can’t fall asleep at night. Sooo, naturally, as soon as my friend told me about the hiatus, I went searching, found a couple news article, and the Save Community petition, which I signed like a dutiful and devoted fan – oh, and of course, shared on Facebook, because yay social media!

It was like Easter, my birthday, and Christmas all at once when I found out Community was renewed for a fourth season, and I knew that its fanbase and devoted interneters (I was so proud to call myself one!) were responsible for keeping Community around. No one, not even NBC nor Sony, can deny this, and so the show and its cult-following lives on.

But war wasn’t over. Community’s creator Dan Harmon wasn’t coming back to the show, and whoop! There went everything into a tizzy again.

Cosplay: Playing Dress Up as an Adult

Being a Community fan isn’t just shipping characters, cosplaying, following twitters or tumblrs, or having marathons and themed parties. It’s not just about being enamored with the show’s brilliance, assholery, and oddly deep comedy, characteristics rooted in Harmon as well – no, being a Community fan means you strive toward a larger goal: you fight alongside Troy and Abed in their battle of blanket forts and pillow towns AND alongside (and sometimes with) other fans AND against the Big Guys, aka NBC and Sony. Not every show is meant for everyone to watch, and not every show should be loved by all. I mean, I know we’re in the age of equality, but geez…not every show is created equally.

So, yeah, Dan Harmon is off the show, and he owns up to the fact that it’s because he’s an asshole. So between Harmon and NBC/Sony both refusing to budge about their ideas, naturally, they brought in new writers: Moses Port and David Guarascio.

Dashing New Writers: Guarascio and Port (on set!)

Again, being the internet addict that I am, I did some poking around. Both writers have been showrunners before, so they aren’t new to the job, which is some sort of comforting. Also, they aren’t trying to pick a side and be Harmon-esque or NBC/Sony drones, which is even more comforting.

>>Ridiculously extensive interview that was actually really insightful and placating<<

However! Neither of these guys has had shows as successful as Community, and basically all the other writers have dipped out…Port and Guarascio, as enthusiastic and open-minded as they are, just won’t make the fourth season of Community what it probably deserves to be. Granted, they have a lot of things working against them, and while they report working closely with the cast and consulting with other writers to ensure that characters more or less stay the same, it’s just impossible.

Which is why when I read that they basically structured this season to be the last (which I mean, come on, time-wise, makes perfect sense because they’re in college…and the whole six seasons and a movie idea has always been really lame to me anyway, *end rant*) I was still upset. Who were they to decide the end of this show? We just got it back on air!

Guarascio, Port, McHale (Jeff Wringer), and Random Guy on Left at Comic Con

Regardless of Community’s possible end, I kinda have this theory about TV shows:

First season, usually pretty good because it’s the intro. Everybody’s really drawn in, and the writers are at the top of their game because they’re enthusiastic and it’s a brand new show, so look at all the possibilities! Then, season two sinks in, and it’s the sophomore album, the butt of the career. Things are meh. Sure, there are changes. (For the record, Guarascio and Port talk a lot about change in interviews – how it’s really the only way to cope and it’s natural.) Change is inevitable, but season two is usually on the Really? This is the best you’ve got? spectrum. The writers dick around a bit, and then, wham! Season three. Now, season threes are usually outstanding. Look at House, look at X Files, look at Danny Phantom, even Mad Men – you now know what I like to watch, also. The third seasons of each of these are like, whoa! Where’d all this come from? It’s awesome!

And then. Season four. If a show makes it that far, season fours are usually back down. Still better than season two because the writers know themselves and their characters and worlds better, but not as good as the third season.

>>Nowhere near as extensive but still pretty informative interview<<

I think the biggest saving grace of Community’s fourth season will be the fact that its cast is the same. They know their characters, and they know how they work in various situations. While writers Port and Guarascio claim that they are aiming to focus more on interpersonal relationships, which was obviously a focus before but now will probably be a little more drama-y (blech), I highly doubt they can keep Community as meta as it was before. (And in case you don’t know what meta means.)

So, even though the red blood of angry fans boils hotter after each blow dealt by NBC and Sony, a new world is about to dawn – a world that can’t be like the one of the ages past. Although there is still a week and one day until the season premiere, the black night is about to end, and Community will burst onto the broadcast waves, a gasp of breathless delight in each of us. Even if it is the final season of Community – at least it’s our season. For us, and in many ways, by us. (I can’t not do this…)

SIDE NOTE: Ugh, sorry this post is so long…I wanted it to be about the writing of the show, and instead it just kinda became about the writers of the show…So…yeah, Writer Problems: pieces writing themselves without your consent. For your diligence and patience, I reward you with this: smashing new hit from Lonely Island. You’re welcome.

Six Seasons and a Movie? Huh?

So, in case it isn’t obvious, this is a blog about Community, and while I shake my head at you if you say you haven’t heard of it, I suppose that’s an acceptable excuse for not watching NBC’s trouble child. But I really don’t believe you if you say you missed its hiatus, the plank NBC forced Community to walk halfway through its third season, the move that sparked an online petition and attracted viewership. (The petition is still chilling on the internet, too.)

And if the hiatus/petition upheaval didn’t steal you away, when NBC delayed the beginning of season four and took Dan Harmon (the creator) off the show, and you still weren’t sold, then…oh, boy, challenge accepted.

So, in my own words, Community is a tv show centered around a group of students at a community college in Colorado that forms a study group for their intro Spanish class. The group is a bit motley, a kind of volatile mixture of highly unlikely-friends. There’s Jeff (Joel McHale), the used-to-be lawyer who got caught practicing with a no-good degree. Britta (Gillian Jacobs), the sorta-hippy drop-out. Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown), the middle-aged mama. Annie (Alison Brie), the actual college-aged student who was a prescription drug-user in high school and is now really straight-edged. Troy (Donald Glover), the star of his (and Annie’s) high school football team but now just another face. Abed (Danny Pudi), the quirky, smart pop-culture-savvy student with aspergers. Aaaaaaand, last but not least, Pierce (Chevy Chase), the businessman who’s back at school.

(tl;dr) Obviously, that is a very long paragraph, so if you wanna read what NBC and Community have to say for themselves, here you go.

Hopefully, somewhere between all those informative links and my own babbling, you are now on board for watching Community and following along as I critique the fourth season of Community (the premier which airs February 7, at 8/7 Central)- and if not? Well…I have the rest of my blog to go.