'Community' and its viewers struggle with change

Thursday, 07 March 2013 09:53 AM Written by 

community s4 brie pudiSince "Community" (8 tonight, WPXI) returned to NBC's schedule its ratings have been in flux -- one week it seems sure to be canceled, the next it's in better shape than other NBC series -- as has the quality of its episodes in the post-Dan Harmon era.

Harmon created the series but left it after the third season. New writers have taken over and several have Western Pennsylvania ties, including writer Gene Hong, who wrote an upcoming episode featuring music and puppets (Hong's roommate, Maroon 5's Adam Levine, wrote the songs with Sara Bareilles).

Some "Community" episodes in the current season work and others have felt a little bit off to long-time fans.

Granted, fans would likely complain regardless simply because of Harmon's absence but I tend to agree that some episodes feel like they are trying too hard to fit a "Community" mold when "Community" has always been about breaking the sitcom mold.

In a teleconference with reporters last week, "Community" stars Danny Pudi, who plays Abed, and Alison Brie, who plays Annie, addressed a question about adapting to change.

Read more after the jump. ...

"In some ways what we setup for Season 4 is embracing change," Pudi said. "And I think specifically within the world of Abed you see that right away in the premiere in Season 4 is going to his happy place, especially every time anyone mentions that it’s our senior year, which is scary. And I think with Abed we’ve explored change a few different times already. In the 'My Dinner with Andre' episode, it ends with Abed saying that changing really isn’t his jam, you know. He’s more of a fast-blinking stoic type. And I think the thing about senior year at Greendale is that whether or not we change much as individuals our circumstances change and our environments change. So I think that is something that we have to at least address."

Brie said she's excited about several upcoming episodes, including a Hitchcockian Christmas episode and a "Freaky Friday"-style episode written by co-star Jim Rash (AKA Dean Pelton).

"This is what I’ll say about change, 'Hang in there, fans,'" Brie said. "Because I think the [season] finale is such a special treat and it’s written by [Megan Ganz] and it’s one of my favorite episodes this season and I think that it has a lot of elements in it that just are - it’s really just made for the fans."

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