Thursdays at 8pm on NBC
For two years, the loveably dysfunctional Greendale Community College students have goofed-off, bickered, flirted and relished in any shenanigan that kept them from actually studying or focusing on class.
The season 3 premiere starts off with a very colourful and very musical daydream courtesy of everyone’s favourite slacker lawyer Jeff. “We’re gonna have more fun and be less weird that the first two years combined” So are things going to be any different in year 3?
-Flamingly gay costume enthusiast Dean Pelton is getting serious in ill-fitting suits. No more ‘National Lampoonery’ like paintball wars, or space ships and trampolines.
-Troy and Abed finally took their inappropriately close friendship to the next level and became roomies.
-Chang has given up all pretense of normalcy. He’s living in the vents and is through courting the study groups and begging for scraps.
-Starburns has added a shoulder lizard to his increasingly bizarre image.
-The teachers are no longer all drunken and/or incompetent buffoons. The study group has chosen biology as their shared course and the professor is a hard-ass with a prison record and low tolerance for BS.
-…And Pierce is still absent from the study group.
Just as the study group is wondering what they’re going to do with one less member, Peirce returns from a summer of ‘enlightenment’, hoping to reclaim his spot. Everyone else is happy to see him and willing to switch out of biology to a class with enough open space. But Jeff is secretly seething and makes an insincere speech about how they’ve moved past the study table and should be confident enough in their friendship to not rely on shared classes.
Jeff’s clever little plan backfires when his blasé attitude and ringing cellphone infuriate their biology teacher on the first day of class. He gets booted and loses his spot in the course. Pierce is there to slide right in and take his spot at the study table. Jeff tries to be mature and employ an “I’ll see you when I see you" attitude”. We all know how well that usually works out!
What follows is a downward spiral that involves accidental racism, monkey knockout gas and hallucinations…and ends with Jeff losing it and putting an axe through the study table. He finally realizes the true ‘magical’ powers of the study table; its unique ability to bring people together and keep them connected. Being on the wrong side of it drove him crazy. Peirce breaks down and admits he bribed the professor to get Jeff kicked out of class. After much groaning – Pierce and Jeff are both back in. (Jeff worms his way back into the professors good graces with a clever present that shows his willingness to learn)
Just one problem – Jeff already tried to bribe the professor and knows he can’t be bought. Peirce shrugs and admits to Jeff that he made up the story. He could tell Jeff just wasn’t as comfortable in the ‘bad guy’ role as he is. Pierce being self-sacrificing?! Guess some things are changing after all!
It was a good episode of Community…but it wasn’t great. The show has focused on Jeff’s insecurities and neurotic desire to be the centre of attention on too many occasions. We saw him struggle for control when Abed became the godfather of chicken fingers. We watched him obsess over Rich, the one guy who was better than him at something. Exploring a new dynamic would seem fresher. I also prefer episodes to be more group focused and this was a little ‘Jeff Heavy’ for my taste.
In terms of the side-plots, there were 1 for 2 as far as I’m concerned. I never get tired of the Cougartown lovefest and I loved watching Abed lose it when his favourite TV was moved to mid-season. Great reference to the British/American comedy debate with the short-lived 6 episode series Cougartown Abbey. But John Goodman as the Vice Dean of a powerful air conditioning repair program annexed to the college…did not work. His energy seemed of whack with the pace of the show. Maybe I’ll warm up to him (he’s joining the cast so he’ll be sticking around), but the dynamic of Community is so perfect that it feels like he’s just crashing the party.
Troy: "If you want to get us a gift we're registered at Linens n' Things."
Abed: "We have plenty of linens. We only want the things."
Professor Kane: (to Jeff) "You put your walls up. You and your phone and your attitude and your fruit loops cologne."
Dean Pelton: "Monkey knockout gas? Now that's the kind of grounded, sensible thinking I want to see this year."
Ratings: This is such a fantastic comedy. Why does nobody want to watch it!? 3.98 million viewers - The lowest network ratings of the night by a show not airing on the The CW. I don't want to talk about it.