The new season of Community debuted on Yahoo! Screen at midnight today and it got off to a good start with “Ladders.” This was a funny episode that gave each of the characters a chance to shine and struck a good tone.
It’s not surprising that the episode had its meta moments, but unlike previous episodes of the shows that have overdone it and felt false, this episode felt earnest and true to the characters in the way that it was meta. It was self-referential but didn’t destructively cannibalize itself like the show can at times. The opening shot that mimicked the opening shot of the pilot was a nicely subtle touch that definitely elicited an emotional response in me.
The highlight of the episode was Abed’s conversation with Frankie Dart, a new character played by Paget Brewster. This was where the meta really came out, with Abed discussing his concerns about how she’ll affect “the show.” It worked because it felt earnest and Frankie telling him that she didn’t realize she was on a TV show, but it sounds exciting was a genuinely nice bonding moment. The surprising bond between these two was a real strength. Abed expressed his concerns and Frankie told him, “Good shows change. I assume. I myself don’t own a TV.” He sweetly tells her that she’s the first person he’s heard say that who he didn’t immediately delete from his brain.
The rest of the group hates Frankie for cracking down on them with her rules. They feel betrayed when they find out that Abed actually thinks she’s nice. In a great moment, Annie puts on her sugary voice and asks him, “Are you sure she wasn’t being gently condescending?” It’s a true emotional punch in the gut when Abed tells Frankie that he feels like he belongs with the study group and she tells him, “You just don’t know any better!”
The episode handled a lot of emotional turns in a beautiful, subtle way while being consistently funny. It was a great premiere.