When the news broke that Community was ending its run on NBC last year, most fans felt that that was end for the creatively crazy show featuring a gang of misfits who mostly discuss their issues at a study group table at Greendale Community College. However, twas not the case, as YAHOO picked up the series and gave it new life.
You can see that the move from network television from online streaming benefited the premiere in a few ways. They can get away with more vulgar stuff or branch out in ways that wouldn’t be reigned in by NBC. However, not stirring the pot too much, creator Dan Harmon has kept the show grounded and even in the 6th season, has found ways to keep it delightfully weird and silly to the point of brilliant, despite being a bit flawed.
The first episode that premiered March 17th, titled ladders, introduces “New Shirley”/Francesca Dart (Paget Brewster) into the mix, much to the chagrin of Annie (Alison Brie). Seems Ms. Dart is out to improve Greendale and while trying to better the college she turns Abed (Danny Pudi) over to her side. This is where we get classic Abed, who breaks the fourth wall as he always does so well. The best thing to come out of the episode was the running gag of a montage, or how Abed keeps referring to Frankie’s entrance as how it is affecting the show. While he’s referring to it as a literal thing, we know what he really means.
This episode was actually quite entertaining, and Brewster’s addition to the proceedings is not filler. Her character is endearing but in an indirect sense; she almost seems like the female version of Jeff (Joel McHale), which is not a bad thing. The similar personalities could lead to an interesting dynamic for the rest of the season, but we will see.
It should be noted during “Ladders” that a) the title is not misleading; in fact there is a Ladder class at Greendale and b) Shirley (Yvette Nicole-Brown) and Pierce’s (Chevy Chase) whereabouts are questioned. Abed keeps asking if Shirley “spun off” into her own show, which is answered by the end of the episode (in a really funny segment). Pierce’s location is only briefly talked about, but it’s clear that both characters are done for the time being.
Their absences (and Donald Glover’s Troy) are missed, but it seems the show can survive without them. Filling in the gaps is more of Dean Pelton (Jim Rash, zany as ever), additional Ben Chang (Ken Jeong, who is basically useless), and the aforementioned newbie Brewster. These three may not be able to replace Chase, Brown, and Glover, but in the current state, Community presses on and does well with what it has. “Ladders” proves that the study group is still hitting the books pretty hard and it shows.
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