‘Community’ lives on! Fans say, ‘Yahoo!’

Review: ‘Community’ season 6 premiere

Jacob Judd, Staff member

#SixSeasonsAndAMovie is halfway to being a reality as “Community” comes back to life … again.

The single-camera comedy from creator Dan Harmon follows the shenanigans of a community college study group as they navigate finals, deal with an incompetent school dean and try to bring reputability to the school while indulging heavily in meta-humor and high-concept genre parodies.

The show has consistently been a critical darling with a devoted cult fan base that teetered on the edge of cancelation for years. When NBC finally put the series to bed last year, many feared it was the nail in the coffin.

But Yahoo!, eager to enter the market of original streaming content and compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon, reassembled the writing staff, cast and creator Dan Harmon to revive the show for a sixth season through their Yahoo! Screen service.

With the original creators at the helm, fans were optimistic that the show they knew and loved would return with grace. But since cult-hit “Arrested Development” made the jump to Netflix less than gracefully in 2013, there were certainly questions as to whether the new format would be able to accommodate the absurd (and expensive to produce) show.

The first two episodes went live on Tuesday, March 17. Fans can rest easy.

As the premiere opens, the dean of the school greets the students and the audience with a fourth-wall cracking address. And when one too many frisbees lands on the roof of the cafeteria, it crumbles as students are buried in an avalanche of plastic.

The show we loved is back. However, it won’t make many new fans because the series’ status quo is assumed to be familiar and little is done to ease new viewers into the characters, premise or style.

The first episode is the more successful of the two, as it introduces the new character Frankie Dart (Paget Brewster) as a no-nonsense consultant brought in to get the school’s reputation in order. This immediately conflicts with our heroes who celebrate the eccentric (if wasteful) flights of fancy the show is known for.

The entire episode reads as a meta-textual analogue for the show trying to reconcile its distinct identity with its limited marketability. It’s also as sharply written as ever, and I laughed out loud a lot, which isn’t something I do much when watching a show by myself. The new character Frankie’s “boring” businesslike personality comes from a developed, human place and makes her a truly unique addition to the cast of outlandish misfits.

The only criticism for the first episode is that series favorite Ben Chang (Ken Jeong) has essentially nothing to do. This happens in an ensemble series from time to time, but it feels like a wasted opportunity here.

The second episode is less successful. It follows two plots as would-be-activist Britta rails against her parents’ attempts to support her financially, and Dean Pelton blowing the school budget on a virtual reality rig. The VR plotline is fun and introduces another new character, Elroy (Keith David).

Elroy seems like an interesting character, but right now that’s all potential as we barely know him yet. Britta’s story feels like a needless conflict, and hurriedly wrapped up. We don’t really get a good sense of why she hates her parents, and her behavior feels contrived as a result.

The worst of “Community” is still a cut above most comedies right now, and this is certainly not their worst.

“Community” is back, baby; clearly, this is not the darkest timeline!