It has been almost a whole year since we last set foot on the Greendale campus, and the road to this point has been tumultuous, to say the least. When fans heard of Dan Harmon’s less-than-voluntary exit, most (if not all) were concerned that Community‘s distinct tone and presentation would be compromised. I was worried, too, but I reserved some cautious optimism for the still-remaining writers and the stellar cast. I had hoped that they would be comfortable enough with the subject matter to continue without Harmon successfully. They must have a handle on it, right?
After watching the first episode, I am glad to see that my cautious optimism was rewarded.
It is just the first episode under the new showrunners, David Guarascio and Moses Port (Happy Endings.) They are attempting to define their own voices within the self-referential, “Incepting” of the series, with hints of Harmon (a wise decision.) For all practical purposes, “History 101” is a pilot – except it already has tons of very vocal fans. That can’t be an easy position to walk into.
But while this episode was still a solid entry into the Community canon, it was far from perfect. Moreover, it was fairly clear to me that there was a marked difference in presentation — but I wonder how much of the normal viewing public would notice, if they didn’t know that the show changed hands between seasons 3 and 4?