There are few things we find absolute joy in – puppies, Nutella and Community. Last year, our favorite comedy was treated like a cheap hooker. It was absolute madness, but we made it. It’s back on TV, and despite new showrunners, the show’s still refreshing. In “History 101″ the study group returned to Greendale as Dean Pelton put on a Hunger Games-style competition where the winner gets… ice-cream!

The Players:

  • Director: Adam Davidson
  • Writer: Andy Bobrow
  • Cast: Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Donald Glover, Alison Brie, Chevy Chase, Ken Jeong, Jim Rash

Episode Title: “History 101″

The Study Group returns from summer break ready to tackle their fourth year of community college. Jeff’s particularly focused on graduating and is just a few credits shy. When there’s a mix-up with a history class registration, Dean Pelton institutes an elaborate competition for class space. Meanwhile, Britta helps Abed deal with his anxiety over the study group graduating and breaking up. Also, Annie pranks the Dean.

The Good:

  • Abed’s Happy Place: Dan Harmon is no longer part of the show, but Abed’s Happy Place is totally a Harmon move. (Note: The “Happy Place” is an imaginary place inside one’s mind where one goes to calm down, according to Britta.) As we’ve seen before, Abed’s imagination has no limits. Here, he pictures a world where the study group doesn’t have to graduate, and live inside an old-fashioned sitcom with laugh track and all. Once his imagination’s infiltrated by reality (the thought of graduation), he goes into a Muppet Babies-type world (called Greendale Babies). We love it when Community does animation.
  • Fred Willard: In Abed’s sitcom world, Pierce is played by Fred Willard. This isn’t a matter of who’s funnier or who you like better. We thought it was a clever move, since they’re all pretty open about their feelings towards Pierce.
  • Fake TV Promos: Did you catch the fake TV ads at the bottom? They were a nice touch.

Best Lines:

  • “Here’s the deal Jessica Biel.” –Britta
  • “If you want something bad you have to work for it, or use a spell.” –Pierce
  • “Jeff look how close you’re holding your fingers together. That’s your penis.” –Fake Pierce
  • “Showing up early? Helping others? Sending girls away? Could this be a whole new Jeff Winger?” –Annie
  • “Graduating after 30 can’t be characterized as early.” –Jeff
  • “I am America’s sexiest aviator, Leo DiCaprio.” –Dean Pelton

The So-So:

  • Senioritis: Annie plans to have senioritis this year. It’s sort of confusing because that’s not something you plan, it just happens. She pranks the dean, and there’s one funny moment when she goes off on a rant about her future and Shirley goes, “This isn’t a conversation, is it?” But the prank could’ve been so much more. Don’t hold back writers!
  • Ups and Downs: “History 101″ was a good first outing. It was funny and imaginative. It took risks. There was even some animation. But Community has set a high bar for itself, and while we don’t expect the writers to hit that mark every time, we’re not going to cut it slack either. This episode was good, but far from great.

Overall:

At some point during his unavoidable speech, Jeff says “Change is always scary.” He’s obviously referring to graduation and life (overall), but we believe he’s also speaking to us. This season is different. Even though it’s still funny and creative, you can feel the change. As fans, we hold this show close to our hearts and we’re defensive of it. It’s scary to know that there are new people running this thing. The premiere was solid, but will that continue? Only time will tell.

Rating: 7.5/10

Community airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.

Photo Gallery:

What did you think of last night’s premiere?