TV Review: “Community” season five

Maia Zewert

In my summer television write-up, I wrote I was cautiously excited for the fifth season of NBC’s “Community.” Although creator Dan Harmon was returning as show runner after a year off, regular cast member Chevy Chase had departed the show and Donald Glover only signed on for six episodes of the new season. Harmon was returning to his show, but it had definitely changed since he left.

Three episodes into the season, I think it is safe to say Harmon has returned “Community” to its glory days. Chase’s absence has been filled by Jonathan Banks (“Breaking Bad”) who joined the cast as a new criminology professor. Other regular faces have appeared as well, including John Oliver (“The Daily Show”) as Professor Duncan.

In season five, “Community” has managed to acknowledge its relatively disappointing fourth season, referred to as “the gas-leak year,”as well as rebrand itself. When we last saw the study group, Jeff Winger (played by Joel McHale) had graduated Greendale Community College with the plan to return to his law career.

The season opens to find him nearly bankrupt and desperate. When one of his lawyer friends played by Rob Corddry asks him to assist in a case that would involve suing Greendale, Jeff returns to his old stomping grounds with the intention of finding evidence against the school. By the end of the episode, Jeff has given up his quest, instead deciding to return to Greendale as a law professor.

The first two episodes acted as table-setters to get the entire study group back into place at Greendale before doing one of the show’s famous parody episodes. When a delinquent known only as the “Ass Crack Bandit” returns to Greendale, the campus is transformed into the setting of one of David Fincher’s suspenseful crime dramas. The episode was one of the best that we have gotten from “Community” in a long time, and further proved that Dan Harmon is the heart and soul of the show.

Ten more episodes remain in the season. In addition to the plethora of guest stars, including Walton Goggins (“Justified”) Nathan Fillion (“Castle”) and the creator of “Breaking Bad” himself, Vince Gilligan, the audience also has a few more “special” episodes to look forward to, such as an animated episode, a sequel to season two’s “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” and what is sure to be a heartfelt send-off for Glover.

Although the ratings might not be as high as NBC would like, “Community” boasts a smaller, but extremely loyal fan base. If Harmon keeps churning out episodes like these, “Community” might just get six seasons and a movie after all.