But even if the passionate — and ongoing — Community fandom has quieted down a bit, the series itself remains as funny and strange as ever, even as it continues to work out the kinks resulting from its slightly longer runtime and downsized cast (as well as adjust to its two new regulars, Paget Brewster and Keith David). The season started off promising, immediately calming any fears about the show’s transition from NBC to Yahoo, and has only gotten better with every week.
The fourth episode, “Queer Studies and Advanced Waxing,” brought the not-so-subtle running joke about Dean Pelton’s sexuality to the foreground. The dean is offered a coveted role on the school board, but only as the token gay man, meaning he has to decide whether to come out and openly identify as gay — even though the episode continues the series’ tradition of never explicitly saying he is gay (because he isn’t gay, nor he is not gay; he is about two sevenths gay, apparently), which makes for a lot of hilarious runaround jokes. Deep under the humor is Community‘s continued assertion that sexuality isn’t a binary, letting the dean become a great, hilarious example of its fluidity.
There are also a few outright silly episodes: the must-watch “Basic Crisis Room Decorum” centers on an attack ad that claims Greendale gave a dog a diploma and is one of my favorites of the season (and not just because I keep Wikipedia’s list of animals with fraudulent diplomas bookmarked). “Laws of Robotics and Party Rights” balances a storyline involving prisoners attending Greendale via robots with one that looks at the friendship and roommate dynamics between Britta, Annie, and Abed.
The last two episodes, “Advanced Safety Features” (whose Honda-focused plot turns product placement into a centerpiece rather than trying to hide it in the background) and this morning’s “Intro to Recycled Cinema” (in which Chang somehow becomes super, Hollywood famous while Abed makes a sci-fi movie on campus), both highlight what Community does best: insane plots featuring small character moments. Both showcase the ability to turn a car or the phrase “ham girl” into something more important, representing larger developments or remarking on personal life crises. It’s what Community was best at when it was on TV, and it’s what Community continues to excel at — even it’s no longer being talked about.