New DVD review from The Movie Snob.
Community – Season Four. After a lackluster season three, Community went on hiatus for a while and then returned for a shortened 13-episode fourth season (without any participation by show creator Dan Harmon). The fourth season was definitely an improvement, though not quite a return to the greatness of the first two seasons. To quickly recap, Community is a Friends-ish kind of show about seven students at a terrible community college called Greendale. In season one, the seven students formed a study group, and they have been together through thick and thin ever since. The ringleader is a disgraced lawyer, the slick and cynical Jeff Winger (Joel McHale, The Informant!), while the heart of the group is the sweet and adorable Annie Edison (Alison Brie, The Five-Year Engagement). Or maybe the heart is really Abed (Danny Pudi, Road Trip: Beer Pong), a Rain Man sort of fellow who comments on all the action as though he were watching a TV show. Chevy Chase (Vacation) plays the least funny of the seven characters, and I hear he didn’t come back for season five. Yay!
I’d say the first half of the season is above average, while the second half is a bit more mediocre. There’s a decent ongoing story line in which Troy (Donald Glover, The Muppets) and Britta (Gillian Jacobs, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World) juggle their dating life against the demands of Troy’s relationship with his best friend Abed. And Ken Jeong’s crazy Ben Chang turns up at Greendale purporting to suffer from “Changnesia” and to believe his name is now Kevin. High points include a Halloween homage to Scooby Doo and a trip to a sci-fi convention. I was also glad to see the writers give Britta a higher profile this season; her combination of extreme liberal do-goodism and lack of common sense can be very entertaining. But the extras on the DVDs didn’t seem as good as in past seasons.
Faithful fans will be rewarded by tons of references to previous episodes and lots of returning bit characters like Todd, Vicki, Garrett, Leonard, and the much-loved Magnitude (Pop! Pop!). Considering that Community has never been too big in the ratings, it somehow manages to attract plenty of interesting guest stars, including Fred Willard, Tricia Helfer, Luke Perry, Jenny Garth, James Brolin, Brie Larson, Sara Bareilles, and Jason Alexander. If you haven’t tried Community yet (and if you like smart, absurdist humor), I urge you to give it a try. Check out my reviews of seasons one, two, and three.