Community: Season 4, Episode 1

History 101 (7 Feb. 2013)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 1,109 users  
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The dean creates a Hunger Games-style competition for admission into a History of Ice Cream class--the final class Jeff needs to graduate. Meanwhile, a fear of graduation causes Abed to retreat to his happy place.

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Title: History 101 (07 Feb 2013)

History 101 (07 Feb 2013) on IMDb 7.5/10

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Storyline

The Study Group returns from summer break ready to tackle their fourth year of Community College. Jeff is particularly focused on graduating and is just a few credits away. When there is a mix-up with a history class registration, Dean Pelton institutes an elaborate physical competition for class space. Meanwhile, Britta helps Abed deal with the anxiety he is experiencing over the thought of the study group graduating and breaking up. Written by m-r-m999

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Comedy

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TV-PG
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7 February 2013 (USA)  »

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16:9 HD
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Trivia

The first episode without the contribute of creator and former show runner Dan Harmon. Harmon left the show after creative differences with Sony, the show's producers. See more »

Quotes

Annie Edison: Showing up early, helping others, sending girls away? Could this be a whole new Jeff Winger?
Jeff Winger: Don't ruin it by approving it.
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Connections

Spoofs The Hunger Games (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

Conflicted...
8 February 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I've made it no secret that in many ways, Community ended last season. Call me a pessimist, but Dan Harmon's voice is what made Community blossom to what it was. It wasn't just some showrunner leaving, it was basically the person who gave birth to it, and because Community has had that off-the-walls approach for most of its run, it's no secret that I expected the worst.

Well here's the thing. The show could have always gone two different ways after Harmon left. The first being to going back to being a "regular" sitcom, sort of the way it was during most of its run in Season 1. Sure, for I and many other fans the show didn't become what it was until those last several episodes of S1, but there's still a lot of people out there who liked the show equally, some even more, during it's first section in Season 1. And there's nothing wrong with that. It was fantastic. So this could be the first way that the S4 writers and showrunners could go. Tone it down.

The second option would be for them to just try to keep Community how it was, knowing how risky that could be. Changing it would alienate fans, keeping it the same and it just feeling like a parody of what the show was would alienate people even more. But they went with the second option. Really, one can't hate them for doing this. Perhaps this episode (and the whole season) would ultimately be better off having gone the first option (although this early we still don't know if they do) but they respect the show and they want to hold on to what it's about.

Interestingly enough, I could very well see Dan Harmon having done an episode like this, focusing on Abed and finishing the way it did. I don't think he would have done a Hunger Games parody (and if he did, one not as obvious or pointless just for the sake of being a parody) but the rest of the episode is totally up his alley. But again, it comes down to the execution, and the episode really just feels off. You see the actors trying, and they do elevate it, but right now the show just feels sort of awkward. As a whole it feels really messy, but I did enjoy many singular, specific things in it (the animated babies and the last few minutes all worked extremely well).

Still, it's not like Community never failed when Harmon was on. Quite often a lot of things, many times even in one episode, conflicted with one another because so much worked and so much didn't. That has always been the beauty of the show, its approach to throw things at the wall and see what sticks (only Louie from other comedies has the same ambition). And again, it's hard to dislike this S4 opener because it does exactly that. It's trying hard, and a lot of the emotion comes through (again, the ending worked so well) but the journey there has quite a few missteps.

What worries me is this. Whenever Community seemed to fail, it still always felt like Dan Harmon failing. You still had the excitement to keep seeing how the show would continue and what else it would do. Whether the show succeeded from week to week or not, it always felt like it came from the same DNA. So yes, there have been several weak episodes in Community that are either in this episode's level or perhaps slightly weaker, but unlike those episodes, this does, sadly, feel out of place with the three seasons that came before it. Heck, if this same episode had come out exactly the way it did, still feeling off and awkward, but it was still stamped by Dan Harmon, I wouldn't have liked it any better and perhaps I would probably be dissing it more. But I still would expect Harmon to bounce back. Knowing that Harmon isn't here is a much bigger worry.

So folks, I hope the rest of the season finds a tone that feels right, that even if it DOES feel different, it feels good. Because, frankly, this S4 opener felt very clumsy, even if a lot of things worked in it. My head tells me to give it a C+, but my heart wants to say a B-. Take your pick

Oh, but that Britta/Troy pairing? Yeah, I doubt Harmon would have even let anyone consider seeing them together this early in the season, and introduce us to them in this way (which just felt, again, rushed and clumsy). But hey, maybe I'm wrong. I'm also getting tired of Abed being the show's baby and having to be dealt with in the most delicate manner. This started in S3, so it's not something new. It's just turning him into an insufferable "character/plot device".

One positive thing out of all of this is that there will always be an excuse people can give for why Community "jumped the shark" so to speak (if indeed it does, too early to tell) after it's 3rd season, and that's because the always-prominent creator, showrunner and many of the original writers and producers left. Many shows just start sucking even with their original creative team, and this way we can always say Harmon's Community never actually jumped the shark (unless you're one of the several people who already think it did in either its 2nd or 3rd season)


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