Community, Season 3, Episode 1: “Biology 101”
Airs Thursdays, 8pm ET on NBC
Community is back for its third season, opening with a bright and cheery musical number in which the cast sing and dance throughout the school, proclaiming that this new year will be different in that they are going to be more “normal.” Dean Pelton in a bright sparkly dress (something Shirley was also wearing) sings about how they are going to “seem like a mainstream dream,” before Chang jumps in to say that they are going to be “appealing to all mankind.” This is all a big wink at the fans of the show;s first two seasons. We are fully aware that the show struggles to get viewers but maintains a steady fan base who watch it religiously. This however is not enough for NBC and unfortunately if it doesn’t do well this season, we may end up seeing it cancelled. There are many more nods to the fans, such as Jeff and Annie singing about how they will sleep together. Their relationship is something that many fans want to see develop, although I personally prefer Annie and Abed. The musical number ends with “We’re going to finally be fine,” before we see that it was all a fantasy of Jeff’s and we begin the episode for real.
The episode begins with an onslaught of information. Troy and Abed are now living together (who didn’t see that coming), and Dean Pelton has grown into a manly figure – well actually he’s just grown a goatee, but he promises to whip Greendale into shape. He’s even got a new Vice Dean, played by none other than John Goodman. There is a callback to Annie’s Boobs, as there is a noise in the vents that leaves the Dean very angry. Pierce is still out of the group as Jeff explains that he is not coming back, only to hear “I’m back” from him immediately afterwards. He’s a new, happier man now. He has even moved up a level in his Buddhist religion. He wants back in the group, and the rest want him too. However, as Jeff likes to control everything, he uses the excuse that they are all such strong friends that they no longer need him in the study group to remain in touch. Besides, he’s not even taking Biology. Emerging from the vents is Chang, as we discover that he is living in them because he has no money or place to stay.
Biology class is being taught by Dr. M. King (surely intentional) played by Michael K Williams or as I prefer to remember him, Omar Little from The Wire. He is a teacher who gained his degree in prison where he was serving 25 to life, for what I’m sure we will find out later on in the season. He is a high strung, angry man as we see when he kicks Jeff out of the class for good after his phone rings one too many times, with Pierce ultimately taking his slot. This leaves Jeff out of the study group and out of control. Dean Pelton sends the guards up to the vents to use “monkey gas” on the culprit as part of his new more “powerful” persona.
The episode was a nice return for the show. It had things that needed to be cleared up before it could continue with the season and it did so in its usual crazy and surreal way. While poking fun at their lack of an audience but responding to its true fans, we see that they are not too concerned with being cancelled, although I’m sure that behind closed doors they actually are. Jeff’s neediness to be in control seems to have gone to a whole new level and shows a dark side to him. Could this be a sign of where the season is headed in general?
While it was never laugh out loud funny, the episode managed to tie up all loose ends from the final episode of last season and introduced new characters to us effectively. It was highly entertaining throughout and never once did I feel a lull in the episode. There were many great moments coming from their B-plot too, in which Abed was trying to find a new television show to watch while Cougar Town is off the air. He finds the British original, brilliantly called Cougarton Abbey. But as with all British shows, it is over within 6 episodes because “That’s the great thing about British TV, they give you closure.” Once again a wink at the audience about the show. He later finds a British show that has been running since 1962 called Inspector Spacetime. I’ll let you figure out what that was spoofing yourselves.
While it wasn’t one of the best episodes of the series, it is definitely good to see the show return and now that everything has been cleared up, we can return to more madness from the group. Oh and one more thing to add: Chang has made a deal with the Dean and is now head security guard on campus in return for living in the school. Thus, Jeff ends the episode with: “So this is the year we are all going to die.”