DVD Review: Community (Season Five)

I may be in the minority of Community fans (who are already a minority) that actually enjoyed season four. Sure it had a few missteps, but it also had a few classic episodes that fit right in with the classics from each season before. Season five is a return to the old school, with the show’s creator, Dan Harmon, returning as showrunner and looking to get things back on track.

Every season of Community has been a blessing so far, as when every season comes to an end, we, the viewers, and also the cast and crew, aren’t 100% sure that it would get renewed. So season four ended with Jeff (Joel McHale) and Pierce (Chevy Chase) graduating, and a few other stories being wrapped up rather nicely. So when the show was renewed, Harmon and the rest of the writers had to figure out a way to get everyone back to Greendale so the show could go on. Well, everyone except Pierce, since Chase and Harmon didn’t get along and, well…no need to get into that here.

Pierce does make a minor cameo early on, but that’s about it, as his character is killed off. But instead of killing off Pierce in a spiteful way, or a mocking way, Harmon really nails it and ties it all into a larger story with Troy, who is played by Donald Glover. Glover only signed on for a fraction of this already shortened season for personal reasons, and the way these stories all come together really works for the departure of both – with the doors still open for Glover’s return.

So, as mentioned above, Jeff Winger has graduated but needs to find a way back in. Turns out his career as a lawyer isn’t all it was cracked up to be previously, and with that he returns to Greendale to teach Law, and help raise the school from the ashes due to recent lawsuits and other issues. This is no “Michael Seaver the slacker becomes the perfect teacher” Growing Pains moment either, as Jeff is the same guy we’ve all come to know and love – or despise, depending on how you see him! He can’t do this alone, so the “Save Greendale Committee” is created that allows everyone to reclaim their seats at the study table.

Also returning to the show are Abed (Danny Pudi), Britta (Gillian Jacobs), Annie (Alison Brie), Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown), Chang (Ken Jeong) and Dean Pelton (Jim Rash). There’s also a newcomer in Jonathan Banks, who is best known as Mike from Breaking Bad. Banks plays Professor Hickey, who becomes a part of the group fairly quickly, and is anything but a filler character for Pierce. John Oliver also returns as Professor Ian Duncan, with a bit more presence than he had in previous seasons.

As for the season itself, there are some absolute classics once again! There are a few misses, as with every season…but even the misses aren’t bad. They’re just called misses because they’re not classics. That’s basically the two types of Community episodes there can be, which says something about the show’s quality and superb writing/delivery.

Two of the most memorable episodes of the season are “Geothermal Escapism” (otherwise known as the “Hot Lava” episode) and “G.I. Jeff”. The Hot Lava episode is the one where Troy is going to leave, and Abed doesn’t want him to so he makes the entire school of Greendale one giant game of Hot Lava. Anyone from my generation knows this game without an explanation, but in case you don’t, it’s basically a game where you can’t touch the floor or else you die in the hot lava. Yep, it’s that simple, and the episode is fantastic.

“G.I. Jeff” continues the tradition of unique Community episodes as this one pokes fun at G.I. Joe cartoons from the 80s, animation, commercials and all! The characters all become G.I. Joe animated characters, just like they were back in the day, and to say anymore would just ruin even a fraction of this precious gem. This episode alone is worth the price of the set.

Like every season of Community, this one ends in a way that left the door open if need be, but also closed it enough so that we’d be “okay” if that was that. And it almost was, as NBC cancelled the show once this season had run its course. Yes, it was the darkest timeline for those who were itching for “six seasons and a movie” until Yahoo! jumped into the world of online streaming television and saved the show once more. That’s right, the entire gang will be back for season six online next year.

The video transfer looks great on DVD, with everything looking as good as the format will allow. The sound mix is also on par, with some great dialogue, sound fx, and music mixes that all help bring the show to life.

On the extras front, they don’t go sparse! While there are only two discs and 13 episodes, each has quite the fun amount to keep you busy while you wait for season six.

Disc One:

Commentaries – Every episode on disc one has a commentary by the cast and crew, which is awesome! There’s not much more to say about it than that…just listen and enjoy!

Re-animating the ‘80s – This is a 20 minute feature that talks about the G.I. Jeff episode, and I highly recommend watching it after you watch the episode. It’s got spoilers in it, and it’s just a lot more fun to watch the show first and see how it all came to be here.

Outtakes – This is pretty self-explanatory, but a fun watch nonetheless!

Disc Two:

Commentaries – Once again, every episode on disc two has cast and crew commentaries, so once again, you get to enjoy!

Advanced Television Production: 5 Days, 2 Scripts, No Sleep – Here’s the prize gem of the DVD extras. This is a 40-minute feature that delves into the writing process, and how tight Harmon and the team get to the deadlines before some scripts are even finished. This feature starts off with them working on the second act of the Dungeons and Dragons episode as the first act of it is being shot downstairs. It gets tight, but it’s just awesome to watch this all take place.

Community Season Five is shortened, but just as great as the previous seasons. There are quite a few classic episodes, with “G.I. Jeff” being one of the best in the entire series. By this point, you know whether or not you love Community, and if you do, then buying this season is a no-brainer.

Sony Pictures Entertainment Presents Community: Seasons Five. Starring: Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Donald Glover, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Ken Jeong, Jim Rash, John Oliver, Jonathan Banks. Running Time: 2-Discs/13 Episodes. Released on DVD: August 5, 2014.

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