Yahoo has released the first two episodes of Community. They're not dumping all 13 episodes at once, instead putting them out a week at a time. I'm glad to have Community back, but these two episodes just weren't that great. It feels like Community has lost its spark and just can't get it back.
The first episode, "Ladders," does have a tough job. Pierce and Troy left the show last season, and now Shirley is gone. So is Buzz and Professor Duncan. Losing three characters at once is a hard blow to take. New character Frankie is brought in as a professional who is going to fix Greendale and keep it afloat. At first the joke is that she's so straight laced that she doesn't fit in with the group, and even gets Abed to become straight laced as well, but she's just as much of a misfit as the rest.
I didn't really like the speak easy that the gang had going on. It was really random and just didn't work, I felt. Jeff, Annie, and Britta reacted way over the top to Frankie. Plus the episode basically invalidated all of last season and the work the gang did to save Greendale.
Chang was useless in both episodes. He offered nothing to the plot and his bits weren't funny. The running gag in the second episode of his hand getting progressively worse from the cat bite yet he never goes to the nurse was just so bad.
I hope we actually get to see Jeff more as a professor this season. I felt that last season really didn't explore that as much as it could have.
The second episode, "Lawnmower Maintenance and Postnatal Care," was an improvement over the first episode and does give me some hope that the show can correct itself and maybe get the spark back.
The plot with the Dean buying that virtual reality device was really well done. It was the kind of concept that Community really excels at. The Dean's feeling of godhood and constant, "Jesus wept" phrases cracked me up.
Elroy seems like he will be a good addition to the cast. Can't go wrong with Keith David.
The Britta scenes were good, but I really hate what the show has done to Britta. I felt her character was best in season 1 and early season 2 but after that the show went out of its way to make Britta a horribly lame character. She doesn't even really feel like the same character from season 1. Still, I appreciate the focus on her and learning that her parents have been bank rolling her all these years secretly was a nice touch. Plus, Martin Mull and Lesley Ann Warren played her parents. Can't go wrong there.
I liked the random endings to both episodes. Shirley's "spin-off" of being a cook to a wheelchair bound detective who is searching for his lost wife was pretty funny and a nice send-off for the character. I loved the Portuguese Gremlins trailer. I wish there actually was a Portuguese Gremlins movie now.
Even at its worse, there's still enough good in Community to keep me coming back. These two episodes were not that great but I have hope that the show will hit its groove now that the new characters have been introduced and integrated into the gang.