The fifth season of Community is a complete anomaly in television history. Not only because it had to come back and repilot after a fairly definitive finale (which is rare, but has happened before) but because of fired show runner Dan Harmon’s return. Everyone was happy to have him back, but when the season actually aired there was a lot of debate among fans, with the general consensus that the show was much better before. As a die hard Community fan and movie reviewer extraordinaire, I figured I would give my thoughts. Personally, I like the new season. But I can see why a lot of people don’t. You see there have always been two aspects to Community. The first is Dan Harmon’s crazy artistic vision, involving paintball and alternate timelines, and all the crazy meta sci-fi shit that old people don’t understand. The second is the network and producers and other writers bringing in more broad humour and making the show more appealing to a wider audience. Part of what made the show so successful in it’s early seasons was the balance struck between these two aspects, but as the show went on, Harmon’s craziness began to outweigh the wider appeal. I think that’s why a lot of people didn’t like season 3 that much. But what’s happened in season five is that almost all of the things that made the show broad are gone. No Chevy Chase, no Donald Glover, a much smaller writing staff, and less network involvement left the door open for Harmon to basically just do whatever he wanted, and the result is something not a lot of people are into. If you casually enjoyed the first few seasons, but started to think season three got a little weird, then season five is simply not for you. If like me, however, you enjoyed those little glimpses into Dan Harmon’s inner insanity, you should definitely keep watching the show. Having said all that, I still think this season is a little weak. One of it’s major problems is that it doesn’t know what it is. Like it or not the old Community is dead, and this new season is very different both in tone and plot. The issue is that it continually seems like it’s trying to be what it once was. If they get a season six I think it would be wise to steer away from the shows familiar conventions and try to enter into new, bold territory. The premise of Jeff as a teacher at Greendale offers up not only an opportunity for a whole variety of story lines involving him dealing with his students, but for new dynamics to come out between him and his former study group now that he’s no longer one of them. Instead, in season five it’s used as nothing more than an excuse to get them all back around the table so we can pretend everything is back to normal. But this is all stuff that can just be chalked up to the fact that the show is in a transitional period, and I really hope it doesn’t get cancelled, because I’m really excited to see it become whatever it’s on it’s way to becoming.
Overall Rating: Great but not for everybody/10