Community Season 5 Premiere “Re-Pilot/Introduction to Teaching” Review – Always Be Caging

Community Season 5 Episode 1 & 2 Repilot;Introduction to Teaching (9)
Welcome back, Community!

This wasn’t just any return. Last night’s season 5 premiere also marked the return of show creator Dan Harmon. Chris McKenna also returned for the fifth season. If you don’t know his name, I’m sure you know many of the episodes he helped write, including “Paradigms of Human Memory” and “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design.” The show’s Harmon-less fourth season was met with a mixed response from fans, so expectations were high as the new season started with Harmon back at the helm.

Even Harmon has been outspoken about his less than positive feelings regarding last season. Harmon had several challenges facing him in the season premiere including, finding an appropriate way to course correct after last season. Enter the “Re-Pilot.”

Re-Pilot embodied what I’ve come to love about Community when the show is at its best. It was dark, inward-looking and meta. So very, very meta. My favorite moments included:

– Troy’s dismay at Zach Braff’s reduced presence during the final season of Scrubs, which was a nice touch of meta humor regarding Donald Glover’s exit after five episodes this season.

– The callbacks to the pilot episode.

– The surprise Chevy Chase cameo. I can’t even imagine what those negotiation discussions were like, but I’m glad they culminated in an appearance by a Pierce hologram.

– The overarching theme that after our beloved bunch failed to follow their dreams and in many ways ended up worse than where they started, the only way to set things right was to get back to magical place that is Greendale Community College. It was a nice way of acknowledging that the group would have graduated shortly after Jeff at the end of the season 4 finale and finding a somewhat sensible reason for them all to return.

As Re-Pilot came to a close, it was clear that Harmon and his fellow writers succeeded at acknowledging the past and setting the tone for the future.

I was a little disappointed initially when NBC announced that the first two episodes of season 5 would air together. I worried that the network was trying to rush through the final 13 episodes and end the series altogether. I was proven wrong, as Introduction to Teaching was a great compliment to Re-Pilot. Where Re-Pilot was at times pensive and dark, Introduction to Teaching was light, funny and full of some pretty solid character development. The highlights included:

– Finding the right fit for two really funny, beloved characters – Chang and Dean Pelton.

In season’s past, Community has suffered from too much Chang and not enough Dean Pelton. I like Chang much more as one of Jeff’s colleagues, instead of the Greendale student who hangs out with Annie’s Boobs and sometimes works as school security. I’m also glad that the writers made short work of getting rid of the entire Chang-nesia storyline from season 4. I can never get enough of Jim Rash and he is at his best when Dean Pelton is lusting after Jeff and being supportive of our favorite Greendale misfits.

– Although I ‘ship tons of couples on countless shows, I’m not a big ‘shipper when it comes to Community. The only couple I’m really invested in is Troy and Abed and the relationships I’m most concerned about are those between the Greendale six. After the weird, short-lived relationship between Troy and Britta last season, it was nice to see the show take a different direction with Annie and Jeff.

The storyline with Jeff, Annie and Buzz Hickey was a great display of the relationship between Jeff and Annie that was free from sexual tension, which was a refreshing change. The writers did a great job at showing how much both have grown since we first met them in season 1. Additionally, Jeff as a professor felt like a further homage to the character for whom Jeff Winger was named – John Winger (portrayed by Bill Murray) in Stripes.

– Speaking of Buzz Hickey, I love all things Jonathan Banks. He was great on Breaking Bad and he’s already showcased his comedic chops with his appearance as Ben’s dad on Parks and Rec. I love Hickey as a mentor to Jeff, failed cartoonist and Leonard agitator. The fangirl in me really wishes they could find a way to bring Pierce’s brother back to Community, so that we could have a full-fledged Mike/Gus Breaking Bad reunion. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Professor Kane (portrayed by Michael K. Williams of The Wire/Boardwalk Empire) spending a little quality time in the teacher’s lounge with Jeff, Buzz and Chang.

– Speaking of professors, Kevin Corrigan’s Professor Garrity/Professorson returned to Community and took part in my favorite storyline of the entire night. Abed might be able to figure out who was really the boss on Who’s the Boss, but I knew that understanding the mystery that is Nicolas Cage would prove to be a much more complicated feat.

I will NEVER tire of seeing Danny Pudi’s Nicolas Cage impersonation. Not only was the storyline hilarious, it kinda made me excited about the potential for a Troy-less Abed.

Other thoughts:

– Am I the only one that is curious about the contents of Troy’s Clive Owen blog? I’m sure at the very moment I’m typing this review someone has already created one.

– I also expect that Leonard’s earring will have it’s own Twitter account soon.

– Also, I can’t believe Andre would bail on Shirley and take the kids! Team Shirley! However, this will at least allow us to stop wondering why Shirley spends so much time at Greendale, instead of being at home with her kids.

What did you think about the return of Community? Sound off below!

Gifs courtesy of the official NBC Community tumblr, which you can check out here.