NBC has treated Community very badly over the years. Despite keeping the low rated series on air for three seasons, the network has juggled around episodes and given the show only eleven episodes this year while they have given Whitney, a show that has only a little bit more viewers (due to the massive ad campaign it received) but is critically maligned, a full season. And over the past year, Community has been fraught with production problems, including the firing of show-runner and creator Dan Harmon and the retirement of Chevy Chase from the show (who will still be in a majority of the episodes this season). Yet despite all of this, Community carries on. Harmon has been replaced by David Guarascio and Moses Port, and Community has the most dedicated cult audience since Arrested Development.
“History 101” was really the episode for viewers to discover if the “new” Community could live up to its first three seasons. The episode, I’m afraid to say, is disappointing. I ultimately got the feeling that I wasn’t watching Community but an imitation of it, a good one but no where near the original. The episode boasted aspects of the series by parodying pop culture (in this episode The Hunger Games) and continuing run-on jokes, such as Abed breaking the fourth wall and Dean Pelton’s crush on Jeff. There were laughs, but the episode wasn’t as funny or clever as the episodes beforehand.
The episode starts off with the study group Jeff, Troy, Abed, Annie, Britta, Shirley, and Pierce coming back together to finish off their senior year. But as it turns out their new class History of Ice Cream, which is needed to complete the school year, never received a limit for the number of students, so Dean Pelton organizes a competition to decide on which students will be in it.
The problem I had with the episode was that I felt it didn’t take the Hunger Games parody far enough. In its other parody episodes like “Modern Warfare,” the show went to great lengths to get laughs, like Chang’s suicide paintball vest. There wasn’t really anything here, plus I felt that the Hunger Games jokes felt pretty dated. The episode also didn’t have the same core as the older episodes and I didn’t feel the same emotional impact.
Maybe David Guarascio and Moses Port are still warming up and will eventually adapt the show successfuly. And though I’m still looking forward to the new episodes, I’m going to try to set my expectations lower.