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(W)In Quarantine – Some More Time In A Dream

I admit that sometimes I feel I want something more than I want it. Boy was I mad at NBC went Conan O’Brien didn’t get The Tonight Show spot. I may not have lost sleep over it, but I gasped, I cried, I raged, and, if Facebook had this react at that time, I would have hugged. And then oh news! TBS picked up his late night show! And a local channel, probably Global, was streaming it in Canada! I could watch Conan O’Brien every day, whenever I wanted! And I tell you now, I may have. I don’t remember, it was 10 years ago. I definitely didn’t watch it as much as you’d think someone who was as vocal as I was about the whole ordeal would have. It was more of a thought experiment than a reflection of something that actually mattered to me.

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Six Seasons and a Movie

Then, four years later, Community was cancelled, and I did it again. To NBC again, which is weird, because I don’t think I harbour any specific grudge against them. Long forgotten scars from a TV network aside, I was disappointed that Community, a show whose greatest achievement was being different, was going away. Until! Yahoo stepped in, reminded people they still existed, and tried to prove they were still relevant by launching a new streaming network with season 5 of Community as the flagship.

This was in 2015. Take a second to digest that Community’s last season was 5 years ago. Take another second to digest that the show launched in 2009, back when Conan O’Brien was looking forward to Jay Leno’s imminent retirement. It took me 5 years to finally watch Community season 5. Putting aside my tendency to get mad that I am not getting more of a TV show I like and then switching to complete ambivalence once I do get more of that TV show, I think the five year gap did a lot to help me enjoy Community Season 5.

Season Six

This is a Dan Harmon showrun season, so it has the charm, wit, and strangeness of the seasons he’s been involved in. Season 6 is a great counterpoint to season 4, in terms of Dan Harmon’s impact as showrunner. The entire original cast was still on the show for season 4, and yet the show feels different. It lacks the heart that set it apart. Conversely, season 6 is missing a third of the original cast (Donald Glover/Troy, Chevy Chase/Pierce, and Yvette Nicole Brown/Shirley), but it absolutely feels like Community. More so than season 5, where Troy’s absence was particularly felt, and .

In their place (and Jonathan Banks’ Buzz Hickey’s place, who joined in season 5 but is nowhere to be seen in season 6), Jim Rash’s Dean Pelton’s role is expanded, and Paget Brewster and Keith David join as Frankie and Elroy. All of these changes are appreciated. An early episode in the season shows that the Dean may be manic and unfocused, but he’s far from clueless. Frankie mostly plays the straight man, which is not a role the community cast ever really had but allows the other characters to explore their wackier sides. And Elroy made me realize that absolutely everything is better with Keith David. He’s the butt of a lot of familiar “he’s so old” jokes that Pierce had, but with a loveable charm as opposed to Pierce’s arrogant terribleness.

The metaplot of the season follows up on Joel McHale’s Jeff Winger settling in to his life on the faculty side of Greendale. He’s not allowed to participate in the same Greendale antics of when he was a student, and Frankie is usually the foil to his anti-establishment instincts. It’s fun watching him juggle being the responsible, caring adult that his arc has settled on and still being able to scheme and work around the establishment he now works for. It wraps up the season and, from the look of things, the series in the finale.

What makes Community one of my favourite shows is that it is constantly taking swings. I can’t think of a typical Community episode formula, and even the stunt shows they’re known for find ways to stunt differently than the previous ones. That does mean when those swings miss, they miss badly. There are a couple of episodes this season that are just a drag to get through because of that. But for the most part, it felt great going back to a show where every episode gave me some strong feeling. If you’re a Community fan who hasn’t seen Season 6 and are looking for some Quarantine binge content, odds are you have access to it. It’s streaming on Netflix, Prime, and Hulu at the moment.