Community Season 6, Episode 1 “Ladder”
Written by Dan Harmon & Chris McKenna
Directed by Rob Schrab
Community Season 6, Episode 2 “Lawnmower Maintenance and Postnatal Care”
Written by Alex Rubens
Directed by Jim Rash & Nat Faxon
Airs Tuesdays on Yahoo! Screen
First, let’s just take a step back and reflect on the fact that it is 2015, Community survived three cancellations – and it’s sixth season is airing on motherfucking Yahoo!, of all the places in the world.
And despite it being a completely different animal than it once was, I couldn’t be happier it’s back.
Look, Community‘s Golden Age may be over: seasons two and three of Community (season two in particular) are two of the best, ambitious wall-to-wall seasons of a network comedy in the last thirty years. Sure, the Greendale fans have hyped the show to death, even in it’s lesser, later years, the Harmon-less season four, and season five, which just ran out of gas three-quarters of the way through. For serious comedy fans, Community is our comfort television: a show where we know exactly what to expect from it, good and bad – and more importantly, it’s form remains inventive, always able to continually impress us with its abundant creativity in construction, if not always in execution or resolution. It’s the CBS show for the slightly pretentious television fan – and you know what? I’m perfectly fine with that.
The first two episodes of season six – premiering on Yahoo! this week, with a new episode debuting each Tuesday – fit this definition of Community even more: it’s akin to season one of Community, with low-key premises and much smaller homages to pop culture sprinkled in, rather than dominating the episode (a speak-easy formed in the backroom of Shirley’s Sandwiches in the premiere is a great example). These nuts-and-bolts episode also take the emotional route of season one, going less for poignant emotional moments in its conclusion, instead using its stories as moments of discovery, both for new characters (Paget Brewster and Keith David, playing a consultant and disgruntled scientist, respectively) and old, which makes the latest incarnation of Community feel like a much softer reboot than previous seasons have (basically, every single one: if there’s anything distinct about these shows, it’s how unique each season is as a whole).
That being said, Community is still Community, as meta as ever with Garrett screaming at people, and Britta being the worst at things – there’s even distinct reference, both funny and emotional, to all members of the Square Table lost in the turnover the past few seasons (except Troy, which fuels my single-minded conspiracy theory that season six builds to The Search For Troy). And there’s good reason to believe Community can experience an actual period of growth this season, moving into more mature journeys for its characters, who are no longer just seven students, but faculty members, advisors, and administrators: at the end of the day, the central seven (eight if you include the Dean, which we pretty much have to do at this point, yes?) of the show remain the heart of the school, something that always remains precious in the hands of Dan Harmon (even if it occasionally leads to things like Emperor Chang or whatever the hell all that computer crap was at the end of last season).
Bottom line is, the sixth season of Community is worth watching: at its very worst, it’s a slightly less aggressive version of itself, relying on meta references and easy homages to drive itself through Harmon’s now-typical four-part story structure. That structure, that knowledge of satisfying resolution waiting at the end of each episode (along with some guaranteed laughs along the way; though it’s not batting 1.000, it remains funny in its advanced age), makes Community blanket the special, warm little comedy blanket I’m always happy to wrap around me.
– Community lives – and so do my reviews of Community! I’ll be here most Tuesdays breaking down the misadventures of everyone’s favorite study group-turned-campus committee.