Sometimes I feel that my watching of television is an endless quest to find replacement shows for old favourites. I've tried out shows like Boardwalk Empire and Treme to replace The Wire and Southlands to replace The Shield and each time I've only found middling success. However, Community has filled one hole - the one left be the ending of first Seinfeld and later Arrested Development.
Community's first season was a magical journey of realisation about how superb comedy is still out there being produced. It was a season that mixed bitter cynical humour with optimism and light hearted comedy. The second season had one hell of a bar to reach.
Spoilers: It raised it. In fact it raised the roof and threw it into the neighbours garden. Crushing a small shed in the process.
I don't know how the third season is going to manage to top the second one, the season managed to introduce exciting new support characters, continue running jokes, bring new ones in and provide not only a stop motion episode but also a zombie movie, a western, Star Wars and more besides.
Starting with the gang returning to Greendale after the summer break we follow on from the events of the last season. Senor Chang is no longer a teacher, Jeff and the guys are now studying Anthropology together instead of Spanish and things have both changed and stayed the same. Jeff's relationship status is 'resolved' and everything kicks up into a higher gear.
There are just so many highlights in this season; "Basic Rocket Science" provides a superb space film homage; the superb "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design" features good old Dean Pelton in a story so twisty that you'll stop caring about understanding what's happening and just enjoy the fun and "Paradigms of the Human Memory" puts a fresh spin on the clip show.
But the personal favourites for myself were "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" and the two part season finale which built on the brilliant paintball episode of the previous season ("Modern Warfare") with a first part that homages the Western Genre and a second part that just gives up pretending to homage and rips huge sections of Star Wars off - the best sections I might add.
As before, performances are class throughout - While Chevy Chase is known to be a bit of a handful off screen, his delivery on screen is spectacular and the use of Pierce as a villainous foil to the group works exceptionally well. Likewise Senor Chang's new role is possibly better than his original one, the mixture of adoration and hate he has for Abed and Company is something to really relish. But for me, the best part is the increased role Professor Ian Duncan has John Oliver is a class act all the way, and he's just perfect in Community, rating alongside
Professor Eustice Whitman (the brilliant John Michael Higgins) as one of my favourite characters in the show outside of the main cast.
I dared to hope that the second season would surpass the first one, and it did. Last time I wrote about Community I called it the best sitcom on air right now. I feel justified in this opinion, it's sheer class.