TV Review: Community Season 4

On February 7th, the fourth season of NBC’s Community premiered to an audience of around four million viewers. Avid fans of the show had marked the day on their calendars as “October 13th – Finally!”

It was an inside joke with an essence of bitterness. When it was announced last fall that the season four of Community would be removed from its premiere season slot and pushed forward to an unspecified date in February, it was only the second-worst news that the show’s fans had received that year. Last May, NBC officially dismissed Dan Harmon, the creator of Community, from his position as showrunner and executive producer of the program. Harmon had the option, per his contract with NBC, to stay on as an “executive consulting something or other” (his own words). He declined because, as he stated last May, “you can’t make my version of [Community] unless I have the option of saying ‘it has to be like this or I quit’ roughly 8 times a day.” 

Fans of the show agreed, and awaited the advent of season four with a mixture of anticipation and anxiety. After all, Dan Harmon was the creator of Community in every sense of the word. He was the source of not just the show’s premise (Harmon went to community college himself and did, at one point, reluctantly join a study group) but also of its major defining characteristics, i.e. the audaciously meta idiosyncrasies and the surprisingly deep understanding and empathy with which Harmon treated each of his seven main characters. It is this last attribute that has earned both Community and Harmon such steadfast respect and dedication from the fan following. Unfailingly, all of Harmon’s characters have been written and subsequently brought to life as three-dimensional human beings, be they young, old, ignorant, jaded, idealistic, or any combination of the above. In particular, it bears mentioning that Community has shown a refreshing sensitivity to autism spectrum disorders, portraying a main character with Asperger’s as a genuine, layered person, rather than a punchline or a plot device as other current comedies tend to do. In fact, Dan Harmon discovered that he was on the autistic spectrum while researching said character, Abed, who has essentially been Harmon’s avatar over the course of the show.

So far, three episodes of season four have aired, receiving mixed reactions. The premiere was criticized for the lack of depth and meaning behind the individual characters’ plotlines, an expected result of Harmon’s absence. The second episode, a Halloween special that was, obviously, meant to be shown in October, was generally considered to be an improvement. It’s worth mentioning that that episode was written by longtime fan favorite Megan Ganz, who has since left the show to write for Modern Family. As fans of Community, we can only continue to watch as this new season unfolds, and see where the lack of Dan Harmon, as well as the consistently mediocre viewer ratings, will lead.

— Maria Juran, Staff Writer

Posted by on February 26, 2013. Filed under Arts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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