Community: “Repilot/Introduction to Teaching” Season 5 Episodes 1 and 2 Review

Photo Credit: http://cdn-media.hollywood.com/images/638x425/2069960.JPG

Welcome back, old friend.

TV comebacks can be difficult to pull off. After all, how do you recapture the initial magic of a beloved show without making it feel like a retread of old ideas? With Community, the odds were most certainly not in its favor. It’s no exaggeration to say that season 4 was a shell of the show’s former self, and Chevy Chase’s public outbursts weren’t helping.

Yet, the first two episodes of the new season attempt to right these previous wrongs. Things seem to have taken a dark turn, with the study group flailing about after being untethered from their lives at Greendale. Annie is a pharmaceutical sales rep, pushing the same drugs that got her into community college in the first place. Britta is a “modern day therapist,” aka a bartender. Shirley’s sandwich business went under, and her husband left her once again. Troy and Abed are still hopelessly co-dependent on each other. And Jeff? After failing miserably as a strip mall lawyer, he’s come back to try and sue the school.

Even with this melancholic atmosphere, there are rays of sunshine that are already beginning to form. “Repilot” mostly worked to get the study group back together again, and clear up some of the murkier aspects of last season. Everything from Pierce’s absence to “Changnesia” was explained away with the type of snappy humor Community was once known for. There were some excellent throwaway lines (Britta: “Who would blame a school for their failures? That’s like me blaming owls for why I suck at analogies.”) and it’s great to see all of the actors wonderfully playing off each other once again. It’s clear that Dan Harmon’s return as showrunner was the push this show needed to get back on its feet.

“Repilot” showed promise, but “Introduction to Teaching” took things a step further. The episode centered around Jeff transitioning from wanting to sue Greendale to becoming part of the faculty. Watching him learn the ups and downs of teaching was very entertaining, especially with a new partner (Breaking Bad‘s Jonathan Banks) at his side. Meanwhile, the rest of the gangs takes a class on Nicholas Cage, which results in Abed having a full-on Cage meltdown in front of the other students. As far as impersonations of the eclectic actor go, Danny Pudi really nails it.

The episode culminates in Annie leading a riot after finding out that getting an A- just means the teacher doesn’t like you. Watching her run out into the hall and incite the fury of her fellow Greendale classmates was classic Community. The show’s best moments come from organized chaos that showcase its hilarious irreverence. Moreover, the riot worked to set up a new dynamic for the rest of the season. In order to smooth things over, Dean Pelton organizes a student-teacher alliance, which is basically a new version of the study group. I’m excited to see how this concept plays out, especially if it means more Jonathan Banks in episodes to come.

These episodes weren’t perfect. Both “Repilot” and “Introduction to Teaching” struggled a little to set the right tone for their storylines. Still, once they found their footing, I was reminded of how great this show can be. Community hasn’t made a full comeback yet, but it’s certainly on its way.

Grades:

“Repilot”: B+/“Introduction to Teaching”: A- (Yes, I realize the irony of this grade given the episode’s subject matter, but I also don’t teach at a community college)

 

By Mike Papirmeister

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *