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The Daily Beast: "Community: Season 4 of the NBC Comedy Ponders the End"

(Jordin Althaus/NBC/Sony Pictures)
The absurdist comedy returns to NBC on Thursday after a lengthy delay and many behind-the-scenes changes, including the exit of creator Dan Harmon.

Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "Community: Season 4 of the NBC Comedy Ponders the End," in which I review the fourth season of NBC's Community, which returns Thursday evening and after many behind-the-scenes changes. Does the show look and feel as it once did? Or does it feel as though not every came back from summer break?

“What’s the deal, Jessica Biel?”

Community, after an absence of what feels like five years and numerous timeslot and launch date changes, finally unveils its fourth season on Thursday. For the faithful, waiting this long to return to Greendale has been an arduous trial, particularly as curiosity is running high amid the many behind-the-scenes changes made since the show wrapped up its third season way back in May 2012.

For one, series creator Dan Harmon is no longer at the helm, after a well-publicized ouster that saw him as well as showrunners Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan depart the NBC comedy. A handful of others—including writer/producer Chris McKenna (currently writing on Fox’s The Mindy Project), executive producers/directors Anthony and Joe Russo, and actor/writer Dino Stamatopoulos (Starburns)—also exited stage left. In their place are new showrunners David Guarascio and Moses Port, perhaps best known for their work on the multi-camera workplace comedy Just Shoot Me and for creating the short-lived comedy Aliens in America.

Suffice it to say, fans of Community want to know: what does the show feel like without Harmon and Co. steering the plot? On a show so gonzo and absurd and generally out there, what does the loss of its creator mean?

It would be far easier to say if the (new) Community were a disaster or a masterpiece. However, the truth doesn’t fall at either end. Community now feels rather like it did during its first three seasons, with its sense of humor and bizarro-world energies intact. (That sense of sameness might be aided by longtime writer Andy Bobrow scripting the season opener, offering a sense of continuity.)

If there’s anything I noticed during the two episodes provided to press for review (the first and third installments, but not—oddly enough—Megan Ganz’s Halloween episode, which airs on … Valentine’s Day), it’s that perhaps a spark that permeated the very best episodes of Community is missing. Perhaps that sense of mad genius came from Harmon himself or perhaps it can be regained once this new configuration of the Community writers finds their legs. But I can’t point to anything specific after two viewings. It doesn’t feel entirely off, but it feels as if not everyone came back from this prolonged summer break.

Continue reading at The Daily Beast...

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