Jimmy Kemper | Monday, March 23, 2015
The dream of six seasons and a movie lives on. In a move that would have shocked Abed and have him racking his brain for any predecessors in the history of television, “Community” has risen from cancellation (and several prior near-cancellations) to find a new home on Yahoo’s streaming service for its sixth season.
Of course, with this new home come a number of new developments. With the move to Yahoo, one of the biggest changes for “Community” is the cast shuffling. Donald Glover, who was a recurring cast member in season five, is still gone after his character Troy Barnes departed from the show at the end of last season. Chevy Chase seems unlikely to reappear as Pierce Hawthorne after his guest role in season 5 (although his hologram is referenced). The newest and probably biggest change for this season, however, is the departure of Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley Bennett in the show), who has moved on to NBC’s “The Odd Couple” and taking care of her elderly father as the demands of a single-camera comedy show became too big of a commitment.
With so many departures finalized, fans had plenty to worry about with the rebirth of “Community.” There is nothing to fear though — the new season of “Community” is everything it should be: quirky, innovative and radically hilarious.
In one of the first scenes of the first episode, “Community” addresses the cast changes in the straightforward manner sprinkled with all the meta humor we’ve all come to know and love. The remaining members of the study group sit around their study table and discuss how empty it is. Abed wonders about Shirley spinning off into her own show, while Ben Chang (Ken Jeong) becomes paranoid about the growing whiteness in the group.
With perfect comedic time, Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) breaks the discussion to introduce Frankie (Paget Brewster), a consultant who will help fix up Greendale after the roof collapses due to a Frisbee overload, and who, to Ben’s dismay, is white.
Throughout the first episode, Frankie plays the role of villain to the group. The study group fears that Frankie’s ideas for Greendale Community College will kill the heart of it, much like the fans feared Yahoo would kill the heart of “Community.” Abed, to the dismay of the rest of the study group, quickly becomes friends with Frankie because she represents everything that he isn’t: grounded in reality, no-nonsense and boring. Her character quickly develops though, and the dynamics between Frankie and the rest of “Community” progress as well.
As before, the cast of “Community” continues to be the cornerstone of the show, and in Season 6 they continue to be absolutely brilliant. Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) is still an alcoholic jerk whose blunt attitude sharply cuts through Dean Pelton’s strange behavior, while Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs) is still unhinged and melodramatic, coming into conflict with anyone and anything that stands in her way.
In the second episode of this season, Britta is forced to deal with the reality that her parents, whom she ran away from years ago, have actually been keeping close tabs on her through her friends and tries running away again, albeit on a children’s bicycle this time.
All of these characters are still absolutely ridiculous, but the situations they place themselves in, filled with bizarre pop culture references, ups the comedy even more. Strange incidents involving speakeasies in Greendale’s basement, the lamest virtual reality ever and the Portuguese knockoff of “Gremlins” show that the creative team behind Community hasn’t lost its touch. Six seasons and a movie seems like an incredibly attainable goal right now, but hopefully we, like Jeff Winger, are never allowed to leave Greendale.