February 8th, 2013
09:35 AM ET
"Troy and Abed back from summer!"
And thus began season four of "Community," nearly nine months after season three ended. (So yes, obviously it is February, but at Greendale Community College, it's the fall. This show was originally supposed to return on October 19, which has been a running gag for "Community" fandom online.)
It was certainly one of the most anticipated premieres on social media, with hashtags like #NewJeff, #TodayIsOct19 and "Chang" trending.
So how was it? Well for starters, we have five reasons to be glad this much-beloved, ratings-challenged series is even on the air at all for a fourth season (though of course, the goal remains #sixseasonsandamovie).
1. Dean Pelton
First and foremost, this was another tour-de-force episode for actor Jim Rash. The Oscar-winning writer's character of the Dean has become one of the highlights of the show (and word is that he wrote an upcoming episode).
Trouble was afoot soon after senior year began for our study group: "This can't be good," Jeff noted about the Dean. "He's dressed as himself."
When the easy-A class "History of Ice Cream" was filled beyond capacity, the Dean came up with a solution to get the last remaining seat in the class: the Hunger Deans!
And after seeing Jeff/Joel McHale's Dean impression last season, we got to see Annie/Alison Brie's briefly this week as she planned to pull a prank in the Dean's office (all the while dropping her g's, of course).
Jeff dominated the Hunger Deans, even agreeing to tango with the Dean (though it was no "Kiss from a Rose").
But it was all for naught when Leonard stole all of the red balls Jeff earned to get a place in the class.
In the meantime, it turned out that Dean moved in right next door to Jeff.
"I've got Friends with Benefits (no subtext)," the Dean remarked.
Come on, he's Dean, and we can't wait to see what else he's up to this season.
2. It's just as weird as ever
Let's face it: "Community" will never be exactly the same as it was without Harmon guiding the ship, though several of the show's longtime writers stayed on. And armed with the knowledge that the show is under a new regime, one can't help but notice changes.
But when the episode opened up with a watered-down filmed-in-front-of-a-live-studio-audience version of the show – complete with fake NBC promos for shows like "Blind/Blonde," and Fred Willard as Pierce (prophetic?) – you knew there was certainly plenty of the old meta-"Community" around.
This traditional-sitcom "Community," which later had Troy and Abed in drag and Dean declaring the group would have to re-do their first three years (just enough to fill six seasons, mind you), was all in Abed's head. He couldn't deal with the fact that the group would soon go their separate ways. (Abed, the Dean and others commented on dealing with change, a none-too-subtle comment on the show itself.)
At one point, he even went inside his head imagining a cartoon called "Greendale Babies."
Thankfully, Jeff snapped Abed out of it with an inspiring speech – which also took place inside Abed's head.
3. Troy and Britta, the couple we didn't know we wanted
The seeds of these two getting together were planted in season one, and the relationship went full speed ahead over the summer.
There were some early signs of trouble, however, when Troy had difficulty hanging out with Britta and doing things he would normally do with Abed, like making wishes by throwing coins in a fountain. Britta didn't understand their very specific rules on wishing and they ended up fighting over "un-wishing" coins in the fountain.
It's going to be a delicate balance this season as Troy tries to maintain an adult relationship without growing distant from Abed (something which the Greendale faithful probably wouldn't take kindly to seeing).
4. The writing
"Community" was as quotable as ever, another good sign for the new season. Just a few examples:
"Here's the deal, Jessica Biel." – Britta
"Last year, Troy wished that we got bin Laden, and for Dorito Tacos." "Yeah but Obama got credit for both." – Abed and Troy
"F-I-N-E or F-Y-N-E?" – Troy, to Abed in their secret code as to whether Abed is actually doing "fyne"
"Whatevs. We can just take it next semezz. Ter. Mester." – Newly chillax Annie
"Hey guys! I have something to say." "Yay, like always!" – "Baby" Jeff to the group, on "Greendale Babies"
"You smell like the floor of a movie theater!" "Yeah, but not for the usual reasons." – Jeff and Dean, in perhaps the line of the night
5. They found a way to bring back Chang
You might recall at the end of last season, Chang took over the school and became a power-hungry tyrant. At the end of the episode, we saw a clue as to how one comes back from that - this should be interesting.
Were you pleased or disappointed with the start of "Community's" senior year/post-Harmon era? Sound off on video or in the comments.
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