'Community' Season 6: What the Critics Are Saying About the Yahoo Revival

Community Yahoo Still - H 2015
Courtesy of Yahoo! Screen

Community Yahoo Still - H 2015

Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Gillian Jacobs, Ken Jeong, Danny Pudi and Jim Rash are back in school in Dan Harmon's cult comedy.

After being canceled by NBC last summer, Community has been revived for a sixth season by Yahoo. The platform premieres the series' first two episodes today, with the remaining installments of the 13-episode season to be rolled out weekly beginning Tuesday, March 24.

The cult comedy, under the auspices of fired-and-hired creator and executive producer Dan Harmon, returns with Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Gillian Jacobs, Ken Jeong, Danny Pudi and Jim Rash, though without Yvette Nicole Brown (now on The Odd Couple) and Jonathan Banks (now on Better Call Saul).

See what top critics are saying about the sixth season of Community:

The Hollywood Reporter's Amy Amatangelo writes, "Community is the comedy equivalent of the monster in a bad horror movie — it just won’t die. And that actually turns out to be a great thing. Everything fans loved about Community remains — the first two episodes are chock-full of increasingly bizarre pop-culture references (Portuguese Gremlins, anyone?) and meta commentary. The show has seamlessly transferred to an online venue." Of the new faces (including a "fun cameo" in the premiere), Paget Brewster "so effortlessly fits in with the cast that when I went back to watch last season’s finale, I wondered where she was." Altogether, "now that the show is free from the confines of network television, the episodes may run a little longer and some of the vocabulary may be a little more off-color. But the heart remains the same. If you loved it before, you’ll still love it. And if Community wasn’t your kind of humor in the past, it’s not going to be now."

The New York Times' Mike Hale explains, "It’s an insufficiently appreciated fact that for five seasons, television’s most highly conceptual, self-referential, pulverize-the-fourth-wall show was carried by a television dinosaur — NBC, the oldest of the big broadcasters." Harmon "has a knack for turning countercultural whimsicality into affecting, fast-paced comedy. He pulls it off again in the premiere, which is funny moment to moment while also being a thoughtful referendum on the nature and style of Community and whether it needs to change." However, Brown, Chevy Chase and Donald Glover are missed, and "scenes in the new season can feel a little sparse," as Brewster "is game, but she’s not the loosest of comedians" and "the season’s second episode is a little flat overall." But Jim Rash "still makes you laugh every time he walks on screen."

Time's James Poniewozik notes, "Community still feels very much like the same show in tone, sense of humor and production quality. The structure is more or less like the NBC version (though the second episode runs an extra-long 26-plus minutes). But what started out as an odd, emotionally charged series about motley misfits getting their lives back together is in the process of becoming … something to be determined." It "still has the comedy goods," Brewster is a "custom-fit for Community‘s fast pace and commitment to absurdity," and "the second new episode is especially funny." But "what’s missing — and to be fair, what requires more than two episodes to judge — is a sense of mission regarding the characters. ... Maybe it’s enough for Community, free of the ratings pressures of NBC, to live its second life free to be weird and playful and experimental."

The Los Angeles Times' Robert Lloyd says, "Apart from the venue and some changes in the cast, it is the Community you may know and maybe love. ... Community is not the first show to make a point of its own artifice. But something special does happen here; the show lives in consciousness of its own construction in a kind of existential but also dramatically meaningful way. Somehow, with all its genre parodies, cultural allusions and self-referential knowingness — not despite, but because of them — it becomes a show about the struggle for authenticity and connection, as lived both by the characters within and the creators without it."

Grantland's Andy Greenwald writes, "Community’s survival can and should be held up as an exemplar of our strange new world, one in which enthusiasm has tangible value to billion-dollar companies and a small, committed audience is better than no audience at all. Unfortunately, surviving isn’t quite the same thing as living. And while the Community that returns is game enough and charming in all the familiar ways, it also feels worn out from its many battles, be they existential, laser tag, or otherwise. What made the show so exceptional, even when it was frustrating, was the way its comedy voraciously gobbled up everything in its path without distinction or delay; each episode was a unique bolus of sincerity and ironic remove all mashed together and lustily swallowed with a sticky-sweet pop chaser. ... Now, though, it’s hard to shake the feeling that Community’s continued existence has taken precedence over purpose."

Twitter: @cashleelee