'Community' Season 4: Stuck in Parody
We are seven episodes in to season four of Community and while the departure of Dan Harmon as showrunner is felt, the show is sticking to its roots. Sadly for Community, its roots may be running dry.
Community will make you laugh, but its reliance on concepts and parody have taken over the show, making it a show you don't need to see every week, but rather a show you'll watch when you hear they parodied My Dinner with Andre in a clever way.
My favorite episodes of Community are as follows:
1. "Paradigms of Human Memory," season two, episode 21
2. "Modern Warfare," season 1, episode 23
3. "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons," season two, episode 14
4. "Remedial Chaos Theory," season three, episode 3
Each of these episodes was a parody/concept episode: "Paradigms" parodied flashback episodes; "Warfare" paid homage to war movies; "D&D" based the episode entirely around a game of Dungeons and Dragons; and "Chaos Theory" showed how the characters would act in seven alternate universes. Each episode is brilliant and like nothing a sitcom had done before.
Episodes like this used to be sprinkled into the show as other, more traditional (yet still different than most sitcoms) episodes followed around the students going through a crazy community college. Lately, however, the show has turned to parody for nearly every episode. The show used to do a great job of poking fun at pop culture or film, but now it is relying solely on the form.
Jesse David Fox for Vulture explains how the concept episodes have taken over and made the characters of the show much less important: "The best episodes of season two felt like the concept was in service of the characters, but over time the show felt more like the reverse ... [Now] we are stuck with tossed-off parodies and characters (save Jeff and Abed) that feel incredibly underdeveloped for a show that is in its fourth season."
Community is still a very funny show. It does have characters and fast-paced jokes unlike any show on television. But to get back to what it once was, it needs to get back to developing characters rather than developing parodies and concepts.
Community is airing a rerun tonight at 8 p.m. EDT, but will be back with a new episode, "Herstory of Dance," on April 4.
Enjoy this fan-made tribute to "Modern Warfare":