So I heard some unfavourable words about the community season 4 premiere so I had to sit down and watch it myself. I know things will be different without Harmon, but the show is pretty badass and I think they have some funny people behind the wheel.
The episode dives directly in to the meta humour die-hard fans are expecting. Immediately after Troy and Abed establish their character, a laugh track signals that something’s up. A three camera sitcom a la Big Bang Theory is revealed to be “Abed’s Happy Place”.
Here’s the deal, Jessica Biel; Abed gets “therapeutized” by Britta to go to his happy-place whenever he gets stressed about all the new changes (Harmon is gone as show runner and it’s the community college’s theoretical 4th and final term). Troy, Annie and Britta freak Abed out at the last minute and he descends back in to his happy place. The show’s normal opening credits are replaced by a goofy character montage to open the show. Pierce has been replaced by Fred Willard, which is a foreshadow to Chevy’s future departure from the show. The montage ends with everyone gaily laying back in a circle with the Community logo in he middle. I think this is referencing show like Party of 5 or something, but I’m drawing a blank on the exact show.
We get right to the plot as Shirley and meets with Abed, Troy, Britta and Annie as they relate on the absurdity of a class called “The History of Ice Cream”. Chevy shows up amidst a group hug, and is iced out of it. As the crew lean back out from the hug, Pierce shouts “Seniors” as if he’s somehow participating and Annie decides she’s going to catch “Senioritis” and slack off for the rest of the semester while pulling pranks. Shirley decides to join in, but Annie was hoping Jeff would be more interested in a semester of goofin’ off and not sayin’ any of her Gs.
A great “AWW” is extracted from the ladies after Troy mentions something cute about making wishes with Abed in the fountain. It’s a first day of school tradition, but up to this point I’ve never heard of it. The wish talk leads to a funny joke about Obama taking credit for the capture of Bin Laden and the creation of the Doritos taco, even though they were Troy’s wishes that came true from the first day of school last year. Troy reminds everyone that they have to make this year count, because it’s the last one.
The history class is overbooked, but Jeff was cool enough to grab everyone seats. Jeff was alerted by Garett’s twitter feed and came early. Jeff tricks a bunch of young, trendy women by having them come and occupy seats in a fake class called “Instagram for Besties” and then gets rid of them by telling them it’s one room over. Everyone is impressed by the “new Jeff Winger”. Britta and Troy are seen holding hands, and Leonard ruins the moment by being gross. The group starts on the Leonard offensive until the Dean pipes in and gets the class to “simmer dean”.
There is some mumbo jumbo about a hacker making “admission to history of ice cream” tickets, making the class over booked. The Dean leads everyone to the gym with a funny, “Follow me tooooooo….” as he leads everyone to the cafeteria for “The Hunger Deans”. This is clearly the Dean’s most ridiculous events yet. No one but Jeff wants to participate in the Dean’s shenanigans, and Jeff reveals that this is his last required class before being able to graduate. The gang is upset and feels betrayed by an obvious Jeff move. Jeff admits the Ice-cream class was to be a soft let down for the rest of the group. This one class would be his final, and he would be gone next semester.
I got confused for a moment, because the show’s current schedule and the schedule of their school year is off. They are just starting the first semester of their fourth year and Jeff is bailing. Annie’s blows off the Hunger Deans for a prank, and Abed wants to stay and watch, leaving Troy to do the “yearly wish tradition” with Britta. Jeff is going to win the Hunger Deans for everyone, while Abed retreats further in to his “Happy Place”
The show within a show is paralleling the rest of the episode in that the cast of Abed’s show is looking for jobs and planning on moving on with their lives. Spot on for Abed’s imagination, everyone but Pierce is reading “Jobs Magazine” while Pierce is reading “Coffins”. Fred Willard delivers a great line and the Dean shows up dressed as Amelia Earhart, or as it turns out it’s America’s Sexiest Aviator Leonardo DiCaprio. The Dean lets the group know that he has lost the students record from the past 3 years, much like Howard Hughes lost his mind, and everyone must do 3 more years of Community College.
The show in Abed’s mind does a great job of keeping tone with the rest of the show. The laugh track is obviously jokey, but the writers don’t really dumb down the jokes too much or try and make the show in to something it’s not. We go to commercial as we retreat back to the cafeteria and Abed says in a trance like state “I’m going to stay here forever”.
A number of ball jokes surround some fun with the Hunger Games tie in. I’ve never seen the movie, so I don’t really know if there’s bigger jokes I’m missing. The show retreats back in to Abed’s show through an unnecessary 3D tunnel effect and we’re back to the show as if the previous scene had been a commercial. Annie decides that if she has to retake courses, she’s going to change her major to Forensics. An over-layed commercial in the bottom left corner of the screen advertises what appears to be a new show on ABED TV called American Sword Cooks. The show seems to star Troy and Abed as chefs who have samurai swords. It’s premiering this fall in Abed’s mind.
Jeff’s mad about starting over as freshmen, as a group of hotties show up and invite them all to a freshman mixer. Jeff’s tune is changed and we head back to the real world. Annie and Shirley go to prank the Dean, but Shirley isn’t satisfied with Annie’s idea of a prank. Shirley convinces Annie to up the ante and Shirley finally comes up with the idea to put fill the Dean’s car with popcorn. They grab his keys and Jeff drops in to show Annie that he’s selflessly getting 7 balls for them (the balls represent seats in the ice-cream class). All the plots that are running together are making things a little hard to write about, but on the screen it works a lot better than I can follow along with. Jeff get’s Leonard’s blood on his shirt and Pierce is trying to write a joke about Jeff’s quest for balls.
Back to Troy and Britta’s wishing tradition, Britta informs Troy that she’s going to put her own twist on the tradition. She’s got skills, and Britta throws down a great little awkward dance. I love when Gillian Jacobs goofs around and is able to pull off such an embarrassing dance. The more I think about it, the more I think Britta is one of the more real characters in the show. She’s super pretty, but she’s also super opinionated, awkward and dumb. I’ve never felt a lot of chemistry between Britta and Tory, but last season they really pushed the idea, so I’m on board. Britta makes the wrong first wish, and some misunderstanding takes place. Britta and Troy get in to a bit of a rift after she wishes away all wars (OH NO! Storage Wars!). Hilarity ensues as Britta enters the fountain and only now do I wonder where the fountain came from. Britta chokes Troy and he wonders why it feels good.
Over in the faculty parking lot, Shirley and Annie are filling the Dean’ car with popcorn kernels and talking about Jeff’s selfishness. Annie is showing regrets about graduating and what’s waiting for her once she becomes a hospital administrator. This is one of the group’s only specific majors. We all know Jeff is working at getting a real bachelor’s degree, but only Annie has a specific goal in mind. It’s so specific that she is apparently having fantasies about a fictional Indian neurosurgeon in her future job at a hospital.
Back to Jeff’s quest for the 7 balls that will allow him to take the Ice cream history class with this 6 best friends, we see more and more feats of strength and endurance. I forgot to mention the Dean is wearing a red cocktail dress. I’m not sure what it represents, beyond the realization that the final test is a Tango-dancing competition. Jeff picks the Dean as a partner, even though he’s supposed to be the judge as well. A quick costume change later, the Dean and Jeff dive in to their tango-gag and we dive back in to Abed’s mind where the aforementioned Freshman Mixer has turned in to a food-fight.
Apparently it’s Pierces fault, and Jeff gives him a scolding. Pierce (played by Fred Willard remember) makes a jab at the size of Jeff’s penis and Annie bursts in the scene to reveal that her new major of Forensics has given her the knowledge to track down the student records. She’s found the backup of the student records, but they are in a safe. Abed is disturbed by this, and we transition back to the Tango scene.
Jeff grills the Dean about a history class that mysteriously disappeared from the schedule while they elegantly tango. Jeff wants to uncover a cover-up, and the Dean folds like a lawn-chair. The Dean didn’t expect Jeff to participate, but has to award another ball to Jeff, due to his excellence at the feats of strength and grace. Jeff only needs one more ball, but isn’t worried because it’s another dance contest. He notices that Abed’s looking strange, and we flash back to ABED TV.
Annie’s trying to crack the safe, but Abed begs her not to. Abed is looking stressed so Britta pipes in that whenever she is overwhelmed she goes to her “Happy Place” in her mind. Abed retreats further in to his mind to “Greendale Babies” a cartoon approximation of “Muppet Babies” that animates the cast as pint-sized baby versions of themselves. The show goes to commercial break with Baby Abed doing the obligatory cartoony “Greendale Babies will be right back… forever”. This bit seems outlandish to begin with, but is exactly what should’ve been expected from the season premiere.
After the commercial break, we’re back in the cafeteria and Jeff asks Pierce what he did to Abed, as the “Greendale Babies” theme plays. The rest of the cast show up as Pierce finally grabs his punchline “Gay balls” and everyone is worried about Abed’s state of mind. Britta fills in the rest of the group that Abed’s in his happy place, and Troy scolds her for messing with Abed’s very complex imagination. Jeff is excused from helping so he can win the final red ball by Annie, and the rest of the group join hands to try and break Abed out of his trance.
It doesn’t work and we travel back in to the episode of Greendale Babies. The parody is very spot on (from what I can remember), Pierce speaks gibberish and bounces on imaginary boobs (he’s also separated from the rest of the group by a fishtank). Baby Abed is excited to “play forever” and as the final event in the Hunger Deans is announced in the real-world, the camera pulls back out to the Cafeteria and Jeff admits aloud that he “hates the new Jeff”. Jeff sets off to help out, and appears in Greendale Babies doing one of his signature speeches.
I’m assuming that as a reader this is hard to follow, so I’m really hoping you’re planning on watching the episode. Jeff’s speech breaks through the barrier and sends Abed’s mind back to his 3-camera sitcom instead of the Greendale Babies episode. Jeff continues to be inspirational as another advertisement for a show comes on to the bottom of the screen. This time it’s called Blind/Blonde and stars Annie and Britta as what appears to be nurse characters. Annie is wearing dark glasses and is presumably the blind one. According to the ad, a marathon of the show is up next.
Abed returns to the real world and congratulates Jeff on a great speech. In a twist, Jeff notes that he hadn’t said anything, and that he literally just showed up to the rest of the group. Abed knows, and did the speech for him in his mind. Abed does one of his own heartfelt speeches and gives us a more rational look in to his own mind. Jeff tries to tie in a bit from his previous speech about ice cream melting, but Abed’s impact has been made. Leonard announces that “while they were incepting” he stole the red balls from the group. I assume they are referencing the Leonardo DiCaprio film ‘Inception’ and I now wonder if there are more Leo gags that I missed out on.
The group concedes their defeat and Annie remarks that now that History of Ice Cream is no longer on her schedule, she has room for “Advance Claim Denial” but Abed suggests Forensics. The episode starts to play it’s self off while Pierce wonders what’s going on aloud. The show cuts to outside of Jeff’s condo with the Dean apologizing for his previous behaviour. He apologizes with a number of quick gags thrown in and Jeff explains there was no reason for him to come all the way to his condo to apologize.
The Dean reveals that he just bought the adjacent condo, he pulls out a set of keys while popcorn flies out of his pocket. Some awkward chit-chat leaves Jeff with a look of disbelief on his face and we cut to an exterior shot where a nude Ben Chang gives a postal worker a note saying his name is Kevin and that he has “Changnesia”. The episode ends ominously.
The outro bumper features Troy and Abed giving a send up to “Bosom Buddies”, a sit-com from the 80s featuring Tom Hanks. The pair are trying to get in to Antics 101, which according to Abed is only available if you have the pre-requisite of Tom Foolery or you’re a woman. The Dean tries to stop Troy and Abed from entering the class, but he’s fooled by their outfits and wants to know where they got their dresses. Britta attempts to get in to the class but the Dean stops her, saying “Not So Fast Mister”. Shirley pops her head out of the class and drops what i assume is her new catch phrase “Oh Lord No!” and the episode ends with an iris that closes around Shirley’s face.
Thoughts on the show: Very funny, not sure what everyone’s all up in arms about!