If it seems like nearly a year since Community was on the air, that's because it has been. Nine months without Abed, Troy, Britta or Jeff! How have we lived?
The bigger miracle, however, is that the comedy itself survived: In the past nine months, creator Dan Harmon was fired, Chevy Chase left under a dark cloud, and NBC postponed the season premiere from Oct. 26 to Feb. 7. When we revisit Glendale Community College tonight, will the study group still make us laugh while also kind of weirding us out? Here are some hopes and dreams for the long-awaited Season 4:
More Dean PeltonJudging from the preview for the first episode, "History 101," Dean Pelton will receive top billing with outlandish costumes and a diabolical plot to get students to compete for seats in a "History of Ice Cream" class. After winning an Oscar last year for writing The Descendants, it seems like actor Jim Rash deserves a little respect -- or if not respect, then at least a backstory. I also wouldn't mind seeing Dean Pelton fall for someone a little more attainable than Jeff Winger. Deans need love, too! (Related: Community Stars McHale and Rash Trade Jabs, Tease Fourth Season)
Less Pierce HawthorneBecause much of the fourth season was shot before Chase's departure, it's likely there will be a few more gross-out racist lines for everyone's least-favorite study group member. Chase notoriously clashed with Harmon and the rest of the cast and crew, and by the end of the third season -- most notably in the Pierce-centric "Digital Estate Planning" -- Chase seemed to be phoning in his performance. If the study group really needs a crotchety old guy to complete the picture, why not induct Leonard? At least you know he'll bring good snack food.
Even out ChangChang was all over the place last season. We've seen him go from living in the vents at Greendale to replacing Dean Pelton with an impostor and conspiring to expel the study group. Ben Chang has groveled at Jeff Winger's feet and cackled evilly from dark corners of the campus, but Chang is the most irritating (and fun) when he's just busy mispronouncing Spanish and getting schooled by his Rabbi brother. Get Chang some therapy, and give Ken Jeong a chance to do what he does best.
More Marshall KaneMichael K. Williams, best known for playing Omar on The Wire, was the best addition to Season 3. "I know who Sean Penn is! I've seen Milk! Now get out of my class!" More lines like this, please.
Don't take the romances so seriouslyThe Community Wiki page notes that Season 4 will feature Troy and Britta together as a couple. Oy. I'm already tired of that pairing, and it hasn't even really started yet. I want to see the characters grow and evolve, but I think Donald Glover does his funniest work as Troy when he's playing off Annie, Jeff or Abed. Basically, anyone but Britta. Even Jeff and Annie are kind of getting boring. If we have to spend so much time pairing off and re-pairing off characters, I'd at least like Community do a self-referential take on romance-driven shows. Possibly a reference to Glover's stint on Girls?
No more sequelsThe first pillow fort episode, "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design," had me doubled over laughing for 22 minutes straight. The two-part follow-up "Digital Exploration of Interior Design/Pillows and Blankets" was nowhere near as good. Same for the original paintball battle vs. the second paintball battle in "A Fistfull of Paintballs/For a Few Paintballs More." It's possible this is a meta-commentary on sequels in general, but I don't think so. The great part about a show that riffs off of pop-culture tropes is that those tropes are pretty limitless. If these guys can make a My Dinner with Andre parody work, then surely they can come up with new ways to inject physical comedy into the show.
Renewal!There are so many more guests that need to appear on "Troy and Abed in the Morning." So many interpretive dances to perform. So many holiday displays to ruin. So many former stars of The Wire to have as guest stars! As weird and uneven as last season was, Community is still a very, very funny show. Given a chance to find their footing, the new showrunners could still turn out a couple more seasons at Greendale.