Community – “Biology 101”

Community – “Biology 101

Community might just be my favorite sitcom on television right now. First, and most importantly, it’s hilarious. It also experiments with genre and style. How many other sitcoms have episodes that were spaghetti westerns, fantasy epics, or Claymation Christmas specials? At the heart of it though, it’s about the characters. You care about them. The more sentimental moments feel earned instead of forced on you in a T.G.I.F. way… Because of its unique approach to the sitcom, Community has found a loyal audience but for the same reason it hasn’t caught on with an even larger audience. The season premiere tonight begins with an upbeat musical number about how the show is going to give up the weirdness and try to be more normal, hooking up characters just because audiences say so. This is quickly revealed to be a dream and twenty minutes of delightful weirdness follow. The rapper Kid Cudi said in a song once that people always ask him why his songs are so different, and he wasn’t clear why that would be a bad thing. Community’s opening number is a great “fuck you” to its detractors. It’s weird and proud and (hopefully) not going anywhere.

“Biology 101” introduces some storylines that will likely stick with the show through the season. The one I geeked out most about was the titular class being taught by Michael Kenneth Williams: Omar from The Wire (my all-time favorite show ever). His character, Professor Kane, earned his degree in prison and does not feel like putting up with Jeff’s bullshit. The second special recurring guest star to debut is John Goodman as the Vice Dean Laybourne of Greendale Community College’s Air Conditioning Repair Annex. The always-bizarre Dean Pelton has decided to take a more hands-on role in the school this year and learns that Laybourne’s Annex is by far the most successful part of the school and their alumni donations are keeping Greendale afloat. Laybourne exerts his influence and ends up leaving Pelton without a budget to run the rest of the school. He’s even forces to hire Chang to replace the security guards, prompting Jeff to declare “so this is the year we all die.” So all that’s a pretty good indicator of what’s going to be happening this year…

Abed’s unusual fixation with Cougar Town gets a lot of screen time this week (I’m not sure why they continuously plug that show. Is Community creator Dan Harmon just a big fan?). Britta also exposes him to the show’s [fictitious] British inspiration Cougarton Abbey, which ends after six episodes in a apparently uproarious group suicide. This leaves Abed catatonic. He is eventually “fixed” when Britta exposes him to a long-running English science fiction show about a Master of Time. I’m sure it’s not based on anything in particular…

The main plot deals with the same story as a large portion of season two: Pierce and whether or not he should be included in the group. Everyone except Jeff is willing to forgive and forget, but slowly he finds himself pushed out in favor of Pierce (mostly by his own doing). He starts going crazy until he (does anyone not know where this is going) BECOMES LIKE PIERCE! The fact that Joel McHale has very much the same persona as a young Chevy Chase (as was commented on extensively when the show debuted) helps sell this joke. Jeff’s weird 2001: A Space Odyssey-themes hallucination didn’t. That’s a movie ripe for parody/homage, but the show didn’t really seem to be much with it. In the end, the group all comes together because, as Jeff puts it, “it’s a scary, lonely, Chang-filled world out there.”

Is asshole Pierce truly gone in favor of more enlightened Pierce? Can Chevy Chase (long rumored to be an actual asshole) pull it off if that’s the case? If Pierce isn’t reformed than why in the name of God would the group even consider keeping him around? These are questions Community will have to answer as the third season goes on, but the quality of the past two years gives me confidence that they’ll be answered hilariously and to my satisfaction. I am looking forward to another year of this awesome show.

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