Community: The Complete Third Season DVD

4 stars

Rob Young

26th September 2013

Much like Ed did a year ago in his review of Community season two, I find it a tricky, almost daunting prospect to review an entire season of something, even more so when I haven't had time to watch all 22 episodes. Look, I've just been super busy lately (catching up with Breaking Bad). But if the rest of the third season of Community is as sharp, original, and self-knowing as what I've already seen, then hell, my job's already half done.

By now anyone familiar with the show won't need too much convincing as to why they need to come back for season three. But what does it offer that the first two years didn't? Well, Chang's now a power-hungry campus security guard, Dean Pelton's been bumped to series regular, Michael K (Omar from The Wire) Williams appears as a new biology professor, and John Goodman makes fleeting appearances as Vice Dean Laybourne, the head of Greendale's air conditioning repair school. All sounds promising, right?

I think what'll be best for all of us is instead of rambling on about how good Community is for what would be the 137th time already on this site, I'll pick two of my favourite episodes so far from season three and tell you why exactly they're so good. Deal?
Episode 3: Remedial Chaos Theory

Troy and Abed invite the rest of the group over to a housewarming party in their new apartment for a night of pizza, Yahtzee and good party-hosting. But after letting a dice decide who'll go downstairs to retrieve the pizzas, the episode splits into seven alternative timelines depending on who's left the apartment. It's an interesting concept that explores how the close-knit group act when one member is missing, and ultimately, highlights their strength as a solid unit. For example, Troy prevents the group from descending into chaos but when Jeff is out of the picture, everyone lets loose without fear of judgment.

This is the kind of far-fetched episode Community fans have come to love over its four-year run, and made up a large chunk of season two. It's a brilliantly written episode that explores the strengths of the group, and it's always nice to see them away from their study room. After the first two none-too-memorable episodes, it gives season three the kick it needs.
Episode 6: Advanced Gay

Pierce discovers his own brand of wet wipes are wildly popular amongst the gay community. To cash in on his new-found popularity, he plans to launch a new line of wipes at Greendale's first ever 'Gay Bash', much to the disdain of his racist, homophobic, ivory toupee-wearing father. Affected by Pierce's fear of his father, Jeff helps plan the party.

Meanwhile, Troy is approached by Vice Dean Laybourne to join the Glendale Air Conditioning Repair School after showing superb skills for plumbing. He's then forced to make the tricky decision as what to do for the rest of his life.

Three seasons in and finally we're shown a little depth to the characters. Jeff becomes more likeable after discovering he has bottled-up emotional pain about his own absent father. But to keep it on the same level as past episodes, Troy's own adventure sits nicely somewhere between Fight Club and Good Will Hunting.

So, as you can tell from my (half-arsed) review, Community season three delivers much of the same, and will please the fans no end. It might still be too niche to captivate a new audience this far down the line but by now, the show has its fanbase and is happy to cater to them.

A few issues do remain, however. The group still seem all too self-involved, giving very little care to anyone outside their own little clique. This is illustrated in episode 4, 'Competitive Ecology', when the idea of partnering up with an ‘outsider' is utterly mind-boggling to them, leaving poor Todd to feel very alone.

But don't let their horrendous treatment of outsiders put you off; Community season three is easily the strongest, funniest yet.

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