Alibi V.24 No.15 • April 9-15, 2015 

Idiot Box

#sixseasonsandamovie

“Community” on Yahoo!

Television is weird and confusing and terribly exciting these days. Shows that have been canceled and abandoned by traditional broadcast networks are starting to see new life on cable stations, websites or instant download services. “Arrested Development,” for example, wound up on Netflix seven years after it was dropped by FOX. The latest series to get tossed an internet lifeline is NBC’s “Community.” Fans wounded by the show’s cancellation can now luxuriate in a whole new season being broadcast (if that’s the word) on venerable internet search engine Yahoo!

“Community” first aired in 2009 and built up a sizable cult following thanks to its taste for meta humor and snappy parodies of classic TV tropes. Unfortunately, it was canceled after five seasons. But Yahoo! Screen has picked it up for a 13-episode sixth season, which began airing in weekly installments on March 17.

The show picks up right where it left off at the low-rent community college of Greendale (now proudly “ranked fifth on Colorado’s alphabetical listing of community colleges”). Since we last visited, there have been a few minor changes. Kindly single mother Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) has moved to Atlanta. (Movie and TV-minded Abed assumes she’s starring in her own spin-off.) Troy (Donald Glover) is still absent, and Pierce (Chevy Chase) is still dead (although neither character goes without their shout-outs). Remaining characters Jeff (Joel McHale), Britta (Gillian Jacobs), Abed (Danny Pudi), Annie (Alison Brie) and Chang (Ken Jeong) continue to operate the “Save Greendale” committee.

Brewster is a great addition to the show, giving it what it’s mostly lacked—a “straight” person to bounce off all the regular wackos. Her character is a self-described “boring,” grounded-in-reality administrator who could actually put Greendale back in the black.

The season’s opening episode amps up the ridiculous factor with a frisbee-based disaster that totals the campus’ cafeteria. Desperate for help, the dean (Jim Rash) hires an outside financial consultant named Frankie Dart (the always welcome Paget Brewster from “Friends” and “Criminal Minds”) to help fix the struggling school.

Brewster is a great addition to the show, giving it what it’s mostly lacked—a “straight” person to bounce off all the regular wackos. Her character is a self-described “boring,” grounded-in-reality administrator who could actually put Greendale back in the black. This sets up the central concept of this new season, succinctly described by lawyer-turned-teacher Jeff: “How much can you improve Greendale before it stops being Greendale?” Rather than portray her as a villainous foil, however, Frankie is shown as a skilled financial officer who admires (in some sense) the crazy antics of the Greendale gang. (Although she does try to get Abed to stop “cutting to a montage” whenever he needs to get something done.)

It’s good to see that, even with a few new additions (including Keith David as Greendale’s eccentric new IT person), “Community” is strong as ever. Longtime fans (and maybe even some new converts) will love this new season, which is as fast, funny and self-referential as the first five.

“Community” now airs on screen.yahoo.com.