Community Weekly Review: Basic Crisis Room Decorum

After five seasons and a cancellation on NBC, "Community" was rescued by Yahoo and season six debuted on its new home at Yahoo Screen March 17, with new episodes weekly. Ed Carroll shares his thoughts on the third episode, you can read his review of the first two episodes here.

The first two episodes of season six already felt like a victory lap for "Community," and 'Basic Crisis Room Decorum' attempted to ground the gang into their new normal existences with the two new cast members.

We've gotten pretty used to Paget Brewster's Frankie Dart, with her character playing major roles in both of the first two episodes, and last week gave us an introduction to Keith David's Elroy Patashnik. Apparently, Elroy isn't just enrolled as a student, he's become part of the Save Greendale Committee as well (perhaps by virtue of living on campus?). It was a bit of a presumptuous jump, but given there's only 13 episodes in this season, probably better not to waste time on nuts-and-bolts logistics. Elroy had some nice scenes with a drunk Britta, but that whole 'B' story went nowhere, really.

The main story focused on an attack ad by City College (who might have been mentioned in season five, but I don't think we've heard much of them since the aborted Changnesia/City College collusion of season four), which claimed Greendale gave a degree to a dog. And in true Greendale fashion, it's probably true that they did. OK, so this was a pretty ridiculous premise, but it's firmly established by now that Greendale itself is ridiculous. It was mostly a convenient excuse for Annie to get the group together (and therefore something for us to watch), and provided some good jokes, particularly Dean Pelton's text conversations with "Jeffery," and Jeff's actual confused reactions to the Dean bringing him olives.

That said, I got the creeping sense the entire time that we've seen this before on "Community." Annie being so discouraged with Greendale and its low standards she tries to transfer. Jeff and Annie's contrasting ideals (here, it was regarding the value of truth). The Dean's overly creepy (and completely unrequited) overtures to Jeff. Heck, "Community" has even done the "Let's outdo City College" routine before, too, although the Greendale attack ad became something quite different at the end. It's not necessarily bad to see some familiar territory on a show (and for a sitcom on its sixth season, it's probably expected), and the humor is there to keep the situations fresh enough. As said before, the text messages were pretty funny (and reading the initial texts in Joel McHale's voice was a great choice), and Allison Brie and McHale have pretty much perfected the Annie-Jeff banter at this point.

I appreciate the show attempting to develop Frankie's character a bit more (and really pull her away from the villain role she played in the season premier), but her scenes with Annie felt pretty unsatisfying in how little they actually developed that friendship (or potentially more?). But we did get a great taco joke (filed straight to the thighs), so let's call it a wash.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how funny the Chang porno subplot actually ended up being. I kind of rolled my eyes when Chang said he should do that to Jeff (who wasn't paying attention, of course), and then having him return at the end of the episode and show off his, um, film was pretty great, as were the reactions (especially Abed, who was examining Chang's skin flick as a work of art). That said, it's disappointing to see Chang reduced to random crazy roles again, it would be nice to actually get him more integrated into plots.

Season six of "Community" has proven one thing so far: Dan Harmon can still make us laugh with this show. It would be nice if the better jokes could be more plot-connected, but it's not like "Community" has solely veered into the random and inane (think "Family Guy"). I'd really like to see some more stories featuring Elroy and Frankie doing more than just hanging around the gang because there's nothing better, but the show is doing a decent job getting us used to them.

I didn't like this episode as much as the past couple, but it's still quality "Community." As of right now, season six seems to be about as good as the previous season (and both are streets ahead of the train wreck of a fourth season), which is likely the best we can realistically hope for from the show.

Two quick notes: I mistakenly said last week that both Duncan and Hickey weren't mentioned in the first two episodes of this season. They aren't, technically, but I forgot Abed does dust off the nameplate on Duncan's door (so he hasn't been completely written out). I also said there were four monologues in the premier, but depending on how you look at it, it could easily be seen as five.

This episode also marks the 100th episode of "Community," so congrats to the cast and crew on getting to this accomplishment.

New episodes of "Community" debut every Tuesday on Yahoo Screen.

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