Culture War Correspondence: Community, Season 5

EVAN: So, dear audience, here we are again. Back in September of last year we wrote an E&GT about the fourth season of Community, albeit an entire month early. Since the trailer for Season 5 hit the internet yesterday, we figured we’d try our hand at this again.

GORDON: Let the record show that I have long been of the opinion that after Community‘s inexplicable tanking shortly after its first season, I became an ardent advocate for the cancellation of the show. While the trailer is intriguing…

…I remain skeptical. Been starburned too many times before.

EVAN: The last time we checked you were at the very least okay with the second season, which I can only assume means that if and when we come to writing our post for Season 6 you will have sworn off the entirety of the show altogether.

That aside, neither of us were too thrilled with Season 3, and far less so with Season 4, which was created sans showrunner Dan Harmon.

GORDON: Dan Harmon has, however, returned from exile like Napoleon from Elba– though whether or not this final attempt at restoring Community is going to be his Waterloo remains to be seen.

Honestly, I’m not convinced much either way by his return- we had terrible Community under Harmon’s administration, and terrible Community without.

EVAN: Your mounting pessimism aside, how about we discuss the trailer?

We all knew that Jeff would have to move on with his life eventually, but right at the beginning we’re shown his new law-supported way of life falling down around him. So of course the school draws him back, which sounds more like a horror movie than anything else.

GORDON: It really does.

And I don’t want to come overly pessimistic here- at least, not more than normal.

I actually think a lot of what they’re showing is really interesting. Jeff is (if we’re gonna believe the trailer) going to be a teacher. It feels a lot more real- like Season 1, only we’re missing a good chunk of the cast.

EVAN: The cast is something that merits a hefty amount of discussion. The teaser image below shows that we have the Greendale 7 sans Pierce for the first time ever, as well as regulars Chang and the Dean. In addition, however, are Professor Duncan and Breaking Bad‘s Jonathan Banks, aka. Mike Ehrmantraut.

And, while the season show revolve mainly around them, we’ll also be getting some Mitch Hurwitz, David Cross, Chris Elliott, and even Nathan Fillion himself. Oh, and Tim and Eric, though they’re not people I particularly care about.

GORDON: I guess my mad hope is that if they’re going to resurrect the reason Jeff went to Greendale in the first place, we’re going to actually see the original motives of the rest of the cast brought back as well.

Annie’s need to be perfect, Abed’s dreams of being a movie maker- so on and so forth.

EVAN: Looking at the Wikipedia page for the upcoming season, it appears that Brie Larson will be making a reappearance as Rachel, the coat check girl who Abed got along with during his two dates to the dance.

At the very least, I think that’s a pretty clear indication of where his arc will be going, and should over more character development than he’s gotten in a while.

GORDON: I think “character development” is a generous term what what Community did to its main players. I could probably go off on a rant about how coat check girl existed only as a prop for the writers to play up Abed’s social-awkwardness to new levels, but I’ll try to exercise some restraint here…

Actually, no.

Let me ask you this: Community was pretty abysmal at the bitter of it all, right?

EVAN: Nothing particularly memorable stands out to me from the last episode, if that helps at all.

GORDON: Do you think the show, after one of the fastest burnouts in TV history, can recover? The trailer DOES specifically mention a “do-over”…

EVAN: I mean, when you take into account that the first episode of the season is titled “Repilot” I think that’s one hundred percent their intention going into all of this.

GORDON: Fair enough.

EVAN: How do you feel about the fact that Donald Glover will only be appearing in five of the season’s 13 episodes?

GORDON: Hm. That’s a tough one.

Troy was never my favorite character to begin with, but as the show went crazier, he, alongside Annie, almost became the straight man.

I guess it’d really depend on what the tone of the reboot (we can call it that, right?) winds up being.

EVAN: I think that’s a pretty good way of putting it. I mean, sure, Harmon’s coming back as showrunner and all that, but here we are without Pierce and with Troy in less than half of the season. That’s a pretty significant shakeup.

What I mean to say is that things are different, so this can’t so much be a return to the old days as it has to be an attempt to reach the same quality of older episodes with slightly different components.

GORDON: That’s probably a good way of putting it. Trying to restore former glory, even if successful, is still going to leave you with the knowledge that something’s missing. Better to be the best new show they can be, eh?

EVAN: Exactly.

As a final question before you push us in the direction these usually end in, do you think 13 episodes is a good cap to what is, in all likelihood, the end of this show? That’s the same length as Season 4.

GORDON: I guess that’d depend, once again, on what they’re trying to accomplish here. I mean, is this a full-on reboot? Is this just a way to try to save some face for the show? Is this all part of some unknown contractual obligation between Dan Harmon and Mephistopheles?

My money is always on the diabolical contract…

We just don’t know.

EVAN: I only ask that question because a shorter season likewise results in shorter arcs. If Abed really is going to get together with Rachel is this going to be a change in character that begins in the first episode and culminates in the thirteenth? I like to be in it for the long haul, because then events culminate, instead of simply happening.

Which is the pro to having a longer season. In general you’re right, though. A poor season drawn out is more terrible television that we have to watch. I say “have to” because we’re in this whether we like it or not.

GORDON: On that note, we’re obviously both going to be giving the show yet another chance- so list off for me what you’d need to see to keep watching, and what’d be a deal breaker for you.

EVAN: That’s a seriously tough question.

I suppose what I want is for the characters to act in ways logical to their character, as opposed to simply being crude caricatures of themselves [see: Winston Rowntree’s comic from Cracked below].

rowntree

Click the image above for the full “Evolution of Fictional Characters by Medium” on Cracked.com

I don’t want to slam gimmicky or themed episodes either. That episode where Abed acted like a robot was great not because he acted like a robot, really, but because it provided some great insight into what it’s like to be someone with his thought processes.

Anyway, tell me what you want to see and then we can move on to what will cause us to slam our laptop screens in frustration.

GORDON: Honestly, I’m not that far off- though I think I’d like to see them really play up the college aspect. One of my longest running criticisms is that the show became less and less about what we could all relate to (heck, even the most off the wall episode of Season 1 was STILL about being able to register for classes early).

EVAN: While I didn’t disagree with you for a second last time we talked about that particular aspect of the show, I think the fact that this is Season 5 is stretching that premise a little. Five years at a community college is more of a depressing thought than anything else, y’know?

GORDON: Ain’t that the truth.

NO ONE LIKES YOU, DEANGELO VICKERS.

EVAN: As far as what I don’t want to see, my fear is the star-studded lineup that’s promised us. This season could be the Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve of the television world. One of the worst parts about The Office sans Steve Carell was how long Will Ferrell overstayed his welcome.

As long as the new people who walk in and out of Greendale don’t take too much attention away from the people we should care about I think I’ll be alright.

GORDON: My bitterness being a matter of public record at this point, it’s really not going to take much of anything for me to drop the show (yet again) at this point. More than anything, though, is if they try to somehow hype nostalgia at me. If their selling point is “hey, remember how awesome we used to be?” I’m gonna…

Well, probably not much of anything. Maybe I’ll post some angry gifs…

EVAN: Well, this has certainly been a very trying blog post for you.

GORDON: It really has. I mean, I’m not getting the exact show that I want when I want it? There has never been such injustice.

EVAN: It practically borders on hate crime.

GORDON: It truly does.

You know what also constitutes a hate crime? Readers not leaving suggestions for next week’s topic.

EVAN: True that, man. And, like most hate crimes, it hurts our feelings.

Thanks, as always, for reading, and leave us any topics you’d like us to discuss in future Culture War Correspondences. And tune in next week for a special Christmas Writers’ Round Table!

GORDON: Seriously, leave us suggestions or I’ll post angry gifs about YOU.

EVAN: Oh, and Community Season 5 premiers on Thursday, January 2nd on NBC.

EVAN’S EDIT: And here’s a bonus for later readers, a trailer that launched a day after this post went up:

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11 responses to “Culture War Correspondence: Community, Season 5

  1. You should discuss the impending wave of kaiju movies in Hollywood. Or something.

  2. Ugh, I gave up on Community a long time ago. It’s really too bad because this show used to be something really special. I want to say “oh, it would take X, Y, and Z to get me to watch it again” but I really can’t. I really don’t think a reboot could erase my memories of what these characters have become and gone through. Definitely let me know if by some miracle this new season isn’t terrible, but I really don’t see how this show can be redeemed at this point.

    Also, I’ve left you several discussion topics that you still haven’t discussed, mostly video game related. Here’s something not video game related that I posted about on Facebook yesterday. As a married man in a stable happy relationship I can’t think of a whole lot of movies featuring male protagonists similar to myself. If I am not raising children, wooing a new woman, staving off divorce, or fighting off kidnappers (or some other action movie thing) that’s not a story that’s being told very often. I point to Away We Go as an example of a movie that portrays this very niche character. Can you think of any others?

  3. I have a Slap-Slap-Kiss relationship with Community muddier than any romantic one I’ve had to deal with. I definitely feel your dread on the show slipping further into the trend depicted in the Winston Rowntree comic (which I’m surprised to find has less words than a short story, given the author). The only show where I’ve enjoyed seeing characters slip further into extreme caricature is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, where it’s more about watching people scrape to new lows of depravity.

    Speaking of Donald Glover, “Because The Internet” is six kinds of dull. Then again, I was never a fan of his work on “Camp” or his assorted mixtapes, so I’m entirely outside the target audience of the album.

    • It really is strange seeing a comic by the same artist of Subnormality that doesn’t read like a senior thesis.

      I listened to “Camp” quite a number of times over, and thought it was decent. Really, though, I think the vast majority of the guy’s musical fans are just fans of him as an actor. His music is a little too self-aware in a way that borders on bumming people out; I feel like it prides itself in not being mainstream while also admitting that it wouldn’t mind if it made it to that level.

  4. Pingback: I Shouldn’t Have To Say This, But Community Should Be Good [Or At Least Better] | Culture War Reporters

  5. Pingback: Yahoo Saves Community | Culture War Reporters

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