I am truly torn about the news that one of my favorite show in many years will be back for a 5th season. The recent season finale pulled in massive numbers and despite the feeling amongst many fans that the show jumped the shark once Dan Harmon was let go, it still has a lot of support and love. The truth is, I can’t blame people for still wanting to watch it, even though it isn’t the show it used to be.
From the very beginning Season 4 had a dark shadow overhead. Harmon, the original creator and visionary, was no longer in charge, and fans feared what this meant for their beloved Greendale Human Beings. As it turned out, it meant sub-par episodes and a comedy legend calling it quits after a long spiral of negativity towards the show and its creator. But despite the general aura that the show was beginning to flat-line, I still had hope.
Truth be told, there were moments – fleeting ones – but moments nonetheless, where I saw the brilliance this show used to possess bleed through the blah it has become. Episodes like the “Advanced Documentary Filmmaking” and “Basic Human Anatomy” had solid build-up and spiked my interest, but sadly they lacked the follow-through of the old seasons. “Heroic Origins” was a particularly capturing episode, right up to its end, which just fell flat, even though the episode started at such a high point that I actually swore to my friend, who decided that Community ended at Season 3, that there was life in this old dog yet!
But nothing is as definitive of the show’s flat-lining as the Season Finale – “Advanced Introduction to Finality”. I have to admit, that while watching I was unaware it was the final episode, which did alter my reception of it, but that’s beside the point. At first i thought a revival of The Darkest Timeline was brilliant! The show looked like it was kicking it into high gear – in the words of Abed “They found a way to make paintball cool again” – a solid nod to some of the best episodes of the old seasons. But then it went and became “blah” by just explaining it away as a dream sequence. And Chevy’s little storm-in right off at the end – how dreadfully matter-of-fact!
So it is that I find myself not knowing how to feel about the news that the Study Group will be back for another season (minus Chevy). I still remember how great this how used to be, and frequently re-watch old episodes – you can’t help but form a slight emotional investment in such brilliantly sculpted characters – so it’s really hard to watch them disappoint you – but you still want to watch.
Maybe there is a miracle around the corner. Maybe some time away will make people realize this show needs to go back to its roots. If they really want to do this one more time, they better make it count. I refuse to watch this show slowly fizz out like Heroes – If they’re going down, I want them to go out guns blazing.
I’m also unsure how to feel about the departure of Chevy Chase. I mean this man is a comedy legend – his many years of starting SNL with this iconic fall, his MANY movies – Fletch, Caddyshack, the Vacation series – I absolutely love this guy! Too bad he is a complete prick! His antics and resistance was a major contributing factor in Harmon’s departure – like his character, he was just becoming harder and harder to deal with. I tried my best to separate the man from his work, but I fear I have lost repeat for both. On the bright side though, maybe his departure will open up a possibility of the creator’s return?
Help us Dan Harmon. You’re our only hope.