Did Community Ace Its Season 5 Premiere?

Community Season 5 Premiere ReviewNBC’s Community returned on Thursday in fine, familiar and funny form — but would you deem Dan Harmon’s return to the helm worthy of an A-minus?

Upon my initial viewing, the first of Season 5’s two episodes left me a bit cold. It seemed dark. And quite plotty. But as I revisited it this afternoon, I better appreciated the burden it shouldered, taking the ball from Season 4’s interim showrunners and scrambling back to the old playbook. (Like Britta, I’m lousy with analogies. I blame owls.)

Thus, a “reset” — or repiloting, as when a TV series reinvents itself midstream — was called for, in this case framing Community as the story of a lawyer who returns to his alma mater as a teacher, reuniting with his study group friends who also are seeking a “second chance” at becoming who they want to be.

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But first, Jeff Winger’s motives were far less noble, embedding himself at Greendale to get the skinny on an engineering grad who went on to build a doomed bridge. Dean Pelton was too happy to have his Jeffrey back in the ranks, though, and soon enough Abed, Annie et al had reassembled to “Save Greendale” — if only because their post-grad lives didn’t live up to expectations either. (Annie’s pushing sketchy pharmaceuticals, Shirley’s husband left and took the kids when she spent too much time/money on her sandwich shop, Britta is practicing psychology as a bartender and Abed’s writing code for a social media app, when he’s not directing one of Jeff’s cheesy commercials.)

When stealing his client’s records proves futile — the Dean had smartly shredded them — Jeff plots to coax the study group into filing their own suit against the diploma mill, to “get something back.” But wouldn’t you know it, a visit from Pierce (or at least his court-ordered hologram) inadvertently advises Jeff, “Don’t turn your back on Greendale.” And as a Scrubs-like voiceover narrates the final montage, Jeff gets hired on as a law prof.

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The second half-hour followed Jeff’s begrudging foray into the world of teaching, warding off student requests for “syllabuses” and such. His office-mate is Annie’s criminology professor, Buzz Hickey (Breaking Bad‘s Jonathan Banks), who laughs heartily at Jeff’s proclamation that teaching is a temporary gig. Buzz proceeds to show Jeff the perks of professorhood — bullying Leonard for his meatballs, for example — and clues him into the “A-minus” secret, by which problem students merit demerits. Abed meanwhile enrolls in Professor Garrity’s “Nicolas Cage: Good or Bad?” course, and enthusiastically ignores the assignment to watch “just five” of the Con Air hero’s flicks. Instead, Abed winds up going all Beautiful Mind with a string map plotting the actor’s career and choices — and then goes full Cage during a classroom presentation.

At episode’s end, Jeff uses a monologue to quiet down the students’ “We deserve slightly higher grades!” uprising and heads up a student/faculty committee to, in fact, Save Greendale — with Hickey filling Pierce’s seat. The tag: Troy and Abed in camouflage in Jeff’s office, laying witness to a so-sad phone conversation ‘tween Hickey  and his pharmacist.

Now, some notable quotables, and… poll!

“That’s like me blaming owls for how much I suck at analogies.”
“You’re Jewish?”
“I didn’t like the [phone] number — 555. It’s derivative.”
“Relaxafrex doesn’t make you give up on your dreams. That’s just a side effect.”
“Do you guys feel weird about doing this without… Magnitude?”
“You’re not worth the monologue. Give me your tie.”
“Don’t blame it all on the gas leak year!”
“…the Pierce Hawthorne Museum of Gender Sensitivity and Sexual Potency.”
“A real psychologist….”
“You look like the road manager for the California Raisins.”
“It means he gets your meatballs.”
“[Nicolas Cage] begs you to stop watching, but you can’t.”
“She needs to be taken out… of your class.”
“No, this is my witness intimidation project.”
“Et tu, Brute? Am I using that right?”

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. lala says:

    I LOVED it! THAT’S the Community I know and love.

  2. drew says:


  3. GuessWhat says:

    I thought both eps were weak.
    Time to end it. Sad to say.

    • ajintexas says:

      Me too. I laughed at Abed but all the people giving these eps A’s are insane. It wasn’t funny.

      • anik says:

        And I thought that everyone was entitled to their opinion. I gave an A because I thought it was awesome and both episodes made me laughed.

        • b says:

          I hate when people say that. “Well I’m entitled to my opinion.” So are the people you’re responding to??? No one said you weren’t???
          Disagreeing with someone’s opinion does not mean you’re saying that opinion has no right to exist.
          Grow up.

          • anik says:

            You have the right to say it wasn’t funny but to say I’m insane because I gave an A, that’s the part of the comment I was responding to. I’m not the one who needs to grow up.

          • KevyB says:

            I have to agree with the insanity comment. If people didn’t know Dan Harmon was back behind the scenes nobody would have given either of those an A. An A is given to an episode that will be considered a classic down the road. There is NO way either of those episodes will be considered classics down the road. Anyone that claims otherwise is fooling themselves.

            That’s an OPINION, btw.

        • ajintexas says:

          You’re right, I am entitled to my opinion. I share that opinion with the person I replied to. I did not reply to anyone that said they liked them and thell them they are wrong, so you should probably just frink a nice big cup of stfu. It’s very ironic how you are going off about people being entitled to opinions yet you are not letting me be entitled to mine.

          • John says:

            all the people giving these eps A’s are insane. – That’s what you said. Even if it’s addressed to the person you’re agreeing with, it’s an admonishment of the opinions of others. Then you went negative with your comments against someone who felt the need to point out you were shooting down the opinions of others. You come off both rude and ignorant.

          • Read John’s reply carefully. It contains several ‘secrets’, including but not limited to: critical thinking, social logic, reading comprehension, basic humility, basic debating, and intermediate maturity.

            I am being neither snarky nor sarcastic. This is either a moment of learning for you or a moment of petulance. No one’s forcing it. The choice is yours.

      • Et al says:

        Try CBS. It sounds more your speed.

        • ajintexas says:

          Oh because this show is so “meta” and if I didn’t like it I must be some old dude that watches CBS? I stand by my assessment that these 2 episodes weren’t that great. You should try PBS, you might benefit from a little Seasame Street and learning how to accept other’s opinions.

          • lolnope says:

            Someone’s butthurt.

          • Auntie Ralph says:

            Trying out that jumping to conclusions mat?

          • Pix says:

            Weeeeell, if you don’t like your shows being “meta”, what are you even doing watching Community? And in the fifth season, no less, did you not expect it to be meta? You want non-meta sitcoms, CBS is the place to find them, that’s just a fact…

          • ajintexas says:

            This place is just infested with morons. I never said I didn’t like a show that was meta. My comment, if you read it and actually understand what is written, was that he was suggesting I am too old to “get” the show. It’s a common thing for moronic young people to say when they are defending a show that pulls a 1.3 rating.

        • GuessWhat says:

          As expected, the ratings were AWFUL and dropped from 8pm to 830pm airings.
          Sorry, but the show is toast.
          Should have wrapped up last year with a proper graduation ending.
          This re-tooling this year is going to be painful.

          And yes, I used to enjoy the show.
          So you 37 fans who are STILL loving it — I get your nostalgia. I really do.
          RIP COMMUNITY!

          • ultimate troll says:

            Trolly trolly trolly trolly. The ratings were not awful. You aren’t sorry. The re-tooling will only be painful if you feel the need to keep posting.. And no, you never enjoyed the show.

          • Peevesie says:

            Darling there are more than 37 fans. Check out the rejoicing over at AV Club or reddit. This episode actually deserves SLIGHTLY HIGHER GRADES!!

          • KevyB says:

            Seriously, the 38 people that are still fans of this show seem to have some serious mental problems, don’t they?

          • Angela says:

            @KevyB: Or, they could just, y’know, simply just be fans. If you aren’t into the show anymore, fine, but there’s nothing wrong with those who still are (remember? It’s “just an opinion” for us, like you said above regarding your thoughts?).
            Also, as someone else pointed out, there’s far more than 38 people who still like the show. But hey, why let facts stand in the way?

      • TV Gord says:

        I don’t know how you could say it wasn’t funny. There were so many great lines! I think every character had at least one line that made me laugh aloud. I’m sorry you didn’t have the same experience that I did.

    • Alan says:

      it was ok but last year was better. i feel like a lot of the people giving it A’s are just skewed because harmon is back.

    • Jen says:

      Totally agree. I couldn’t sit through these episodes. Yuck

    • Carrie says:

      I agree. I was disappointed. The episodes were a little lame.

    • chayse says:

      do you even understand how much dan harmon has to work his way up from? we all disliked weak season 4 but dan harmon cant ignore it entirely. so yeah if the first two episodes are a bit weak dont count on ending it! i personaly think the first two episodes of community could be thought of as a bit weak too. its not time to end it- its time to give it support so community can build up to where it was in the glory days again.

      • Alan says:

        i liked season 4 and thought it was fairly decent, i felt these episodes where a huge step down in quality. it felt to me like it was dan harmon trying too hard.

  4. Andie says:

    I’m a sexy cat!!!

  5. Janet says:

    I agree, the premiere felt dark and weird. But it was so great to have Community back, we never thought we’d get a Harmon Community back, and it was still better than every other sitcom out there. I enjoyed the second episode better, especially Abed’s distress over the Nicolas Cage question. Oh, and I love that Professor Garrity was back, and loved his appreciation of Abed. Also, so cool that Chevy Chase did a cameo!

  6. Emma says:

    I think I laughed more at these episodes than in the entirety of last season.

  7. katspeakz says:

    Loved it. Thought it was brilliant and can’t wait to rewatch and see what details I missed with the first viewing.

  8. Kay says:

    I feel a though you can’t really judge the first episode because it’s main focus was setting up the series return. The second episode was a lot stronger and funnier. Abed’s Nicholas Cage impression was hilarious. I hope the rest of the episodes can be just as strong. I like how Chang is a teacher again, it really seemed as though the writers didn’t know what to do with his characters the last 2 seasons. Professor Hickey seems like a strong replacement for Pierce. Also, my heart broke just a little when the study table went up in flames

  9. JohnD says:

    I’ll say it: it took some class for Chevy Chase to do that cameo. I was genuinely surprised when he popped up!

    • raftrap says:

      I second this, that took away any bad vibe that was left behind, what a great set of episodes. Thank you Dan Harmon and cast for that last hour.

    • Ron says:

      I think it took class for both Chevy and Dan; they both said some pretty horrible things about each other. I’m not gonna lie, I wasn’t overly upset when Chevy left the show. Chevy, as a person, seemed rather ungrateful to the show. And Pierce was probably my least favorite character. All that said, I’d be lying if I didn’t say his cameo brought a smile to my face. It was nice to see. It even made me think that a little bit of Pierce here and there wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

  10. Sheldon W. says:

    The first half-hour was pretty boring, but the second half-hour was great. I give it a B on the average between the two.

  11. Nehemiah says:

    I had unrealistically high expectations for the hour-long premier seeing as how I’ve been a Harmon fanatic even before his standout animation Rick and Morty. Of course I enjoyed his return eps, but I’m even more excited about where he can take the show this season with (Jeff teaching his “Winger-guarantee” to students) so really no complaints here! #sixseasonsandamovie!!!!!

  12. Aleana says:

    Love it first episode was a bit weird but over all amazing this the Community I love

  13. Kenny says:

    It was a dark set of episodes, but everything was really great!!!

    Loved Abed, he was definatley the star of these episodes!!

    Troy seemed a bit off (if thats the word to describe it)

    Love Shirley and Abed Interactions

    I really hope Mr.Hickey is not the new Pierce.

    And speaking of Pierce, he would have been great to have around (i’m sure no one else agrees)

  14. Nehemiah says:

    P.S. The meta-humor of Community is not to be understated.

  15. Sarah says:

    I was really excited it was back, but these were pretty disappointing-save for a few awesome Troy one-liners. This show is going to suffer a huge loss when he leaves. Also is the teacher guy supposed to be the replacement Pierce? Because no. I’m in the minority, but I actually think the show loses something without Pierce. Overall, these really didn’t do it for me. But Community is still better than a lot of crap on tv!

  16. GuessWhat says:

    1/6 of the season is already over!

  17. Kathy says:

    The first one was okay, the second one was better. I laughed so hard over Abed’s Nicholas Cage, which BTW, I would totally take a class on: Nicholas Cage: Good or Bad.

  18. raftrap says:

    My thoughts are french, but they are good thoughts

  19. These two episodes were as bad as season 3.

    • Suzaku says:

      What thoughtful commentary.

    • Its my opinion that if you didn’t like Season 3 then you aren’t a true Community fan. Season 2 was funny but Season 3 was based on that one kind of inaccessible really geeky element that binds all nerds together. And it was also funny!

      • Jen says:

        That’s dumb.

        If you liked season 1, you’re a Community fan. If you liked season 2, you’re a Community fan. If you liked season 3, you’re a Community fan. Hell, even if you liked season 4, you’re still a Community fan. Bottom line? if you have a heart for this lovable crew of misfits, and an appreciation for the some of the most clever little jokes on TV, then you’re a Community fan.

        We’re all entitled to love different things about the show – I loved the bright optimism of season 1, others loved the full-tilt wackiness of season 3. No one is more of a “TRUE FAN” than anyone else.

        And that’s MY opinion.

  20. spartan_Cheer says:

    I thought it was great! The Scrubs season 9 references were great! Love they got Zach Braff to do the voice over at the end. And Troy calling ZB a bastard for leaving the show after 6 episodes “after all that show did for him” was hilarious! Jonathan Banks was great. I definitely laughed more in these 2 episodes than most of last season. Also was completely surprised by the hologram cameo by pierce. at first i thought they were reusing footage from season 1 but nope. i almost hope we can see him again even if in hologram form. “Isn’t wierd we are doing this without…magnitude?”

  21. Christine says:

    Second one was much better than the first, but the first was adjusting the mess from last year. Loved the Chevy cameo though! I also like the teacher angle- so far.

  22. Allen says:

    First episode was a bit more focused on exposition than humor, but it was necessary to “repilot” the show and set things up for the rest of the season. Also had a lot of great “meta” lampshading, from the Scrubs references to the Obi Wan-esque Pierce hologram convincing Jeff to stay.

    Second episode was a return to form, and while it still required some exposition, the b-plot was great and the introduction of Jonathan Banks as a series regular alone is more than enough reason to keep tuning in.

  23. Carrie says:

    Can someone explain the gas leak reference? I don’t get it.

  24. Johnny says:

    They basically retold the first episode. The dialogue was very similar. Every other line was an homage to a similar scene from the pilot.

  25. Sarah El says:

    The Nic Cage bit was great but the rest of it felt pretty blah to me. Not bad, but not that great either.

  26. Nichole says:

    Loved Abed’s Nicholas Cage impression, that was awesome!! The nods to Banks character from Breaking Bad was pretty good too. First episode was a bit weird, second was better, just glad to have the show back :)

  27. ec says:

    I enjoyed both episodes. Repilot was dark, but the editing and timing I felt were an immense and very noticeable improvement over all of season 4 – the jokes, too (Britta’s ill crafted analogy about how she was bad at analogies was paradoxical brillaince for me).

    In the second episode, I was sold as soon as the minus riot broke out. The students of that school being instantly on board for an all-out violent display of fairly pointless protest just seemed like the show returning to top form. I couldn’t stop laughing when Magnitude broke a window and punctuated with a very dedicated POP-POP!

  28. Angela says:

    Yeah, I was struck by how dark the first episode was, too. But I kind of liked it that way, strangely enough. I loved the bit where everyone was talking about what their lives were like since leaving Greendale-when Shirley mentioned Andre leaving I actually gasped out loud! Ohhhh… Poor Shirley. And I liked the idea of Jeff going back to his old ways (the commercial at the start was great), and having to try and “reform” himself all over again. And the Pierce cameo at the end was a really pleasant surprise! Very cool to see him pop up like that.
    It was so weird, and sad, to see the study room looking as it was, with boxes all over and the table hidden under stuff. But the way they all came together at the end was nice. And I REALLY loved when Jeff flat out attacked his former partner. Seeing him get angry like that was…oooh. I want more of that Jeff.
    As for the second episode, I enjoyed all the running jokes about Nicholas Cage, and Abed’s freakout in class was highly entertaining. And I’m liking the new professor, and Jeff as a teacher has potential…once he got into the swing of handling his class it worked for me. I’m interested to see how that goes.
    The laughs were much more subtle here instead of full-on “laugh out loud” stuff, so if someone’s looking for the latter they might be disappointed, and the stories felt a bit…rushed, or something, at times? I dunno how to put it, exactly. But there was definitely some funny stuff in here, and I expect the first couple episodes would take a bit to find their footing in spots anyway. I think the first episode was my favorite of the two, but overall, they were good, and this looks to be a very intriguing setup for the new season.

  29. Robin D says:

    Recently re-watched a few old episodes on Hulu+ (hate their clumsy and ill considered commercial interruptions) from seasons 1-3 and found that it made these first two episodes of Season 5 amazingly more enjoyable due to the density of meta-content I was able to appreciate. Top grades for me, A+ to both episodes.

    And that french song of the Dean’s thoughts was pure genius, felt so like the old surprise Harmon element you could never have anticipated but was hilarious and touching at the same time (assuming it was his idea; who else?). Must watch again (thank you DVR).

    So happy the show is back in top form!! Sorry if I’m not clear; it’s like if the owls made me bad at analogies.

  30. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t worth all the build-up it got… To be fair – last season premiere was better with Sitcom/Cartoon babies and The Hunger Deans. It wasn’t gimmicky enough and that’s what we love about Community – it’s filled with gimmicks! Surprised to see Chevy Chase there – was it old footage or is it new? How did he agree to come back to a show he was fired from?

  31. David4 says:

    It was fine but not as great as it should have been.

    I much rather they did the spring semester of their 4th year than having them all graduate, be losers, and come back.

  32. Britta Unfiltered says:

    LOL, all the grades have minuses. Well played, sir.
    Oh, gosh, the line about the owls. I had to think about that joke for 5 seconds before it hit me, and then I freaking lost it with gales of laughter. It is so good to have the old Britta back! I missed her in season 4. She’s my favorite character of the show (obviously). She might be my favorite sitcom character of all time. I graded these episodes as an A-. They wouldn’t be among my favorite episodes of the show, but it was just so thrilling to have the old magic back that I had to give it the high grade. I smiled the entire hour. My favorite image of the episodes was Abed farting out that tiny version of Jeff. Blame my immaturity. I was really shocked that Chevy came back for a cameo. And I am a little bummed by how little they used Troy. We are already two episodes into his five episode stint, and I feel like they barely used him. I’m not completely sold on Jonathan Banks yet.
    It’s great to be back at Greendale! Human Being for life!

  33. Keith says:

    Jonathan Banks will always be Frank McPike from Wiseguy to me

  34. Sarabi says:

    They’re baaaaack! :D
    I absolutely LOVED the Nicolas Cage bit!
    Looking forward to the rest of the episodes!

  35. GuessWhat says:

    As expected, the ratings were AWFUL and dropped from 8pm to 830pm airings.
    Sorry, but the show is toast.
    Should have wrapped up last year with a proper graduation ending.
    This re-tooling this year is going to be painful.

    And yes, I used to enjoy the show.
    So you 37 fans who are STILL loving it — I get your nostalgia.

  36. tobygees says:

    I liked both episodes, but like others who posted here, I thought the second episode was stronger than the first. I liked the rebooting concept, but I also felt it was a little bit of a downer; although I suppose that was the point. Troy seemed very underused and can anyone tell me how he fared after graduating from Greendale? I must have missed it.

    • Alan says:

      as usual it was just a joke about how troy is nothing more than abed’s punchline, no wonder donald glover is leaving the show.

  37. Babybop says:

    Interesting… I thought the first episode was a lot stronger than the second one! I guess I’m a dark comedy fan.

  38. Ceal says:

    Just to throw my 2c in – the thing that really struck me about last night’s episodes is how much I was still percolating them this morning! It all seemed to pass in a highly anticipated blur for me, with lots of pleasant chuckles and a few surprises (I actually jumped when Chase appeared!!). But I found throughout this morning I’d suddenly be struck by something and be cracking up (or I confess, feeling a little sorry for the Dean at one point! That poor guy!). I’m REALLY looking forward to the second/third/fourth viewings so I can really appreciate all the nuances again:) It’s just that type of show isn’t it? The tapestry is so rich, it just keeps giving something new and special viewing after viewing!

    I’m unashamedly IN LOVE with this show, the characters, the cleverness of the writing, the delivery and actor interplay – and just so grateful that it didn’t become “Inspector Spacetime – USA” in order to go for mass appeal over genuine smarts. I confess, I haven’t felt absolute addiction to a show in around 25 years! But this one just has something so unique. And last nights episodes really hit the spot for me:) I can’t wait to see what the season brings, and on the strength of last night, I’m sure it’ll be one that I can indulge in re-watching over and over again:).

    One thought though – that bit with Hickey speaking with the pharmacy – bit of a dark way to end an episode. Wasn’t quite sure what to make of that. Hoping that isn’t a trend? It left me feeling a little off kilter.

    #sixseasonsandamovie !!!

  39. John says:

    Can anyone let me know what reference the show was making with the “my thoughts are french” song or if there even was one?

  40. TV Gord says:

    I loved both episodes! So many great lines! How could I give it anything but top marks!?

  41. TVline… you forgot the most notable quote of all, when Magnitude screamed POP POOOOOP!

  42. SebastianV says:

    “She needs to be taken out… of your class.” I loved the reference to Breaking Bad and his suggestion on how to deal with Lydia… GREAT START FOR THE BEST SHOW OF OUR TIMES (or at least commedy)

  43. Mike says:

    Same as someone else said, I laughed more these two episodes than the entire season 4 – I had to pause about 10 times so I could stop laughing and continue. Brilliant!