|By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America (Joel McHale Uploaded by maybeMaybeMaybe) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons|
Dean Pelton stole the episode. We love that Jeff isn't repulsed by the Dean because the Dean is gay, but because the Dean is crazy. The joke isn't a homophobic one; it's mocking the stalker-ish character who will do (or wear) anything for attention. We also liked that the episode used Chang sparingly. Joel McHale was looking especially good in this episode too.
The theme of the episode was embracing change. The half hour seemed designed to address the worriers and the haters. While it was funny at first, we wish there had been more to the episode than a self-aware letter to all concerned in the audience. This felt more like a message than an episode.
Spending that much time on responding to critics came across as defensive, because the truth is, as long as the show is still good, we don't care who runs it or who is fighting on the set. A funny show that's true to its own tone covers a multitude of sins and rumors.
We still have one concern: The show used to do these insane high concept parodies of things and churn out these weird, wonderful episodes that we'd become obsessed with. The episode decided not to do that with The Hunger Games, using that as a throwaway joke, which is fine. We just hope these new showrunners CAN do that. For later. We will cautiously continue to watch. Any Community is better than no Community. Still, Inception has been parodied enough, right? South Park did that better.
So is Community back? Is it better or worse? This week didn't answer that question. Really, you couldn't tell from this self-conscious, uneven premiere. We will have to wait until next week to find out.
Episode grade: B-