Season 4 of community was in trouble before it even began. Following a number of bust-ups between show runner Dan Harmon and Chevy Chase, Harmon finally left the show. As the creative genius behind the show this was taken as a bad omen, but fans remained optimistic everyone involved could keep it together. Even so, thoughts of shows like The West Wing, which became pale imitations of themselves after the creative force (in that particular case, Aaron Sorkin) left. The decision of Harmon to leave, whosever it was, seemed even less wise as the Chevy Chase character was not only the weakest of the group and Chevy the most damning of the show and the genre, but has now left the show.
Somewhat unusually he left before the new season started airing, but was there to record all but two episodes of the series. This is because the season was originally scheduled to start several months ago, most notably on October 19th. This additional delay resulted in the cast putting out a spoof trailer lampooning the constant delays.
Finally, the first episode aired and the question, “will it pick up with the brilliance of the end of season three?” was answered. Unfortunately, the answer was a resounding no. This is hardly a surprise given just how great some of those episodes were.
But as soon as it aired the first episode felt dated, which is hardly it’s fault given the delay. But February 2013 is a bit late to be doing an episode based on The Hunger Games, but at the same time also feels like copying the latest trends, so it fails on both fronts.
The episode itself had some very funny moments and the Abed TV idea was an interesting one, though the vast majority of the jokes seemed to fall flat. It seemed more like a piece of fan fiction than an actual episode. Still, there is a way to go in the series and we can forgive a few episodes that fall below expectations as everyone involved gets used to the new way of doing things.
However, there is also the real possibility that for a show which has always struggled to get the viewing figures it deserves, that a weak season coupled with the natural end of the community college setting will see our time at Longdale come to an end. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.