RogerBW's Blog

Community, season 6 17 June 2016

2015 comedy, 13 episodes; most of the same team of misfits continue to try to keep their community college going.

The original Community cast was superbly balanced, and bringing in new people to fill the gaps was always going to be tricky. Keith David as Elroy Patashnik, former Internet millionare, often feels as though he's trying too hard; but the real gem of this season for me was Paget Brewster as Frankie Dart, "the sensible one", brought in to try to get the Save Greendale Committee (formerly the study group made up of the show's core characters) to do something useful rather than carry on with its usual hijinks. I've previously seen Brewster as an FBI agent on the thoroughly grim Criminal Minds, and her role here (mostly as straight woman with occasional outbreaks of madness) is a revelation. Ken Jeong just does the standard Ken Jeong act, and every moment he's on screen is a trial.

The writing style has changed again: when Dan Harmon came back for season 5 after his sacking for season 4, he seemed to want to get away from doing the same old thing even though it had still been working. Season 6 is definitely for the long-term fans, and since it was released on Yahoo! Screen rather than a broadcast network there was no worry about viewers stumbling across it by accident and being put off because they couldn't immediately grasp what was going on. There's less of the split-second comic timing, and more recognition of the long-term connections between the core characters (sometimes veering into schmaltz). It's all a bit cheaper-looking and smaller-scale than it used to be, but the show's bones still just about carry its weight. This is definitely not the place to start, though, as the show constantly comments on its own artifice, and it's only the excellence of the cast and scripts that stop it wearing out its welcome. In an era when television is where the smart visual storytellers are going, this still stands out.

Yahoo! Screen is now defunct (shortly, I suspect, to be followed by the rest of Yahoo!), all the actors' contracts have expired, and some of them now have much more lucrative careers elsewhere. Still, there's talk of getting the cast together for a film.

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