May 13, 2013

On Community's Fourth Season, And the Show's Future

By Nico Danilovich

Now that Community has concluded its fourth season, it’s time to take a good look at the season as a whole. Many of the online community seem to think that this season was horrible, however, I think this view is too extreme. I do believe that there was a definite drop in quality , as it was full of imperfections hard to ignore. However, the show was still entertaining and isn’t that why we watch it? As far as the fifth season goes, I am personally not very excited, but since its happening anyways, it’s important to look at what the writers of Community should do in order to make next season as good as the first three.

Community has always been a show of inconsistent quality. It’s crazy and erratic and more often than not that results in episodes of poor to mediocre quality. However, I persevere through all of those off episodes for those rare occasions when Community does something great. Unfortunately, the fourth season only accomplished this once, in “Basic Human Anatomy,” and failed to do so when it tried elsewhere, such as in “Intro to Felt Surrogacy”. This season also failed to appropriately handle its arcs, apparently forgetting to explore some and failing to do justice to those it did. Ultimately, however, I enjoy Community for its wacky characters, ridiculous tone and sharp humor—elements that were all present this season. So, despite the fact that the writers had some trouble figuring things out on the whole, I did enjoy watching and am glad the fourth season exists.

I am not, however, excited for the fifth season. I think that nearly all stories, no matter the medium, have a natural end. Community is no exception. Now that Jeff has completed his arc and the study group has shown time and time again that their friendship will prevail, I think Community has reached its natural end. However, the fifth season is happening whether I like it or not. So, if this series hopes to regain its former glory, I think the writers need to identify compelling stories they want to tell in the next season and make sure they do so effectively.

As far as specifics go, I have several things I’d like to see next season. First of all, Jeff has left Greendale. The worst mistake the writers could make next season is to undo this. Please, please, PLEASE do not make Jeff a lawyer for Greendale or continually come up with excuses for him to come back. Be bold and drop McHale down from series lead to reoccurring guest star. Jeff should obviously stay in touch with the study group, but if he remains a part of their everyday lives instead of simply visiting them every so often, it’ll cheapen his departure. I know this probably won’t happen, as Joel McHale is the star, but it should.

Secondly, follow up on unfinished arcs introduced in season four. If it was necessary to show that Starburns is still alive, then show us why and use him for something. Also, Abed finding a romantic interest was a big deal, so explore this idea further. A relationship is the perfect way to force Abed to mature, as long as the writing of the relationship is handled correctly. Keep exploring the tension between Annie and Shirley concerning the title of valedictorian. Tension between friends is a great way to explore and test the limits of their friendship. And most of all, if you’re going to tease the threat of City College, then show us City College’s plan put into action.

Aside from that, I think the writers should be good as long as they keep the focus on Troy, Abed, Shirley, Annie and Britta. Give each main character an important arc for the season and focus on stories that effectively explore those arcs. Story should always come first. The high concepts will follow.


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