Follow me to-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-The Hunger Deans!
|Abed is in his apartment worrying over the study group's final year at school. He is there with Britta who, in her capacity as Abed's therapist, advises he imagine himself in his "Happy Place" when he gets stressed out. Afterwards, Troy, Annie, Abed, and Britta arrive at Greendale and are greeted by Shirley and Pierce. Annie announces she is going to do "Senioritis" this year and pull some pranks which Shirley is eager to do with her. Troy and Abed mention their yearly tradition at the start of the school year: making a wish at the school fountain. As they head to their latest class, "History of Ice Cream", they all wonder where Jeff is. When they arrive at the class, they find a crowd of students waiting outside including Neil. He explains the class is overbooked and filled to capacity.
|Abed's happy place, a sitcom version of his life.
|Jeff then appears from inside the classroom. He instructs the group to join him as he got there earlier and saved them all seats. They are all surprised by his thoughtfulness as well as his eagerness to begin the new school year. Jeff notices that Troy and Britta are holding hands and teases her about it. Dean Pelton shows up with some bad news and announces that counterfeit registration cards had been circulated for the class. In order to resolve the conflict, he asks all the students to follow him to the cafeteria. Once inside, the students see that elaborate obstacle courses have been set up. After the Dean disappears behind a curtain, he makes a splashy entrance and declares the start of the "Hunger Deans" competition. The students will have to battle it out for a spot in the history class by winning a red ball.
|'Welcome to the Hunger Deans!'
|The group is uninterested in participating, but Jeff is adamant that they all take this class together. He explains that he took online courses during the summer and is only one history credit away from graduating. The group is shocked that he is graduating early, particularly Annie, who is disappointed by Jeff's selfishness. Jeff declares that he will win seven red balls, so they can all take the history class. An angry Annie leaves with Shirley to pull some senior pranks while Abed and Pierce decide to stay behind and watch. Abed tells Troy to go ahead to the fountain with Britta and do the traditional wishes without him. He then retreats into another "Happy Place" sitcom fantasy. The competition starts, and Jeff manages to bully his way through Leonard and Annie Kim to climb up a pyramid and claim his first red ball.
|Jeff, Leonard, and Neil in the first contest.
|Meanwhile, Annie and Shirley execute their prank by sneaking into Dean Pelton's office. Shirley is unimpressed and suggests something bolder like filling the Dean's car with popcorn. After finding his keys, they are interrupted by Jeff who proudly shows off one more red ball he won for them. He races back to the cafeteria and leaves the balls with Abed and Pierce. Elsewhere, Troy and Britta arrive at the school fountain and begin the wish making ritual. Britta is unaware of all the rules Troy and Abed had created for the tradition and starts to get annoyed when Troy corrects her. She tries to take back a wish by removing the coin she flipped into the fountain. Troy attempts to stop her, leading to them fighting inside the fountain. Over in the school's faculty parking lot, Shirley and Annie are carrying out their prank on Dean Pelton's car.
|"Why am I enjoying this?!"
|While Annie continues to complain about Jeff graduating early, she mentions how bored she is with her hospital administration major. Back at the Hunger Deans, Jeff beats Neil in a one-on-one contest to secure his third ball. A few more contests gets him two additional balls. The tango is then announced as the next competition by the Dean who states that all the contestants need to be paired up, and he will personally be the judge of the winner. Annie Kim asks to partner up with Jeff, but he chooses Pelton instead. Abed grows more agitated and further retreats into his "Happy Place" sitcom fantasy. As Jeff continues his dance with the Dean, he confronts him about his suspicions. He theorizes that Pelton learned about how close he was to graduating and canceled a legitimate history class to prevent him from obtaining his last credit. He accuses him of fabricating the crisis with the fake certificates for the only other history credit class.
|Jeff and the Dean do the tango.
|The Dean admits what he did but states that he's not ready to let Jeff go. Despite this, he deems Jeff the winner and reluctantly hands him another red ball. Jeff takes it back to Abed and Pierce but notices how frozen and unresponsive Abed is. The rest of the group arrives, and Britta explains that she told Abed to retreat into his mind whenever he feels anxiety. Jeff leaves when the next contest is announced, but after seeing the group struggle to rouse Abed from his catatonic state, he changes his mind. Inside Abed's "Happy Place", he imagines Jeff delivering a "Winger speech" about accepting change. He snaps out of his self-induced coma and startles the study group. He tells them that he was afraid of the future and the unknown. He now realizes he shouldn't be: when they began their time at Greendale, it was also uncertain but ended up turning out well for all of them.
|Cartoon baby Jeff delivers the lesson to be learned in Abed's "Happy Place" fantasy.
Another one of Abed's sitcom fantasies is shown. In this segment, he and Troy are cross dressing, so they can attend an "Antics 101" class that is only for women. They are stopped by Dean Pelton who admires their dresses and lets them inside. Britta tries to enter the class but is stopped by the Dean who insists she is male. Shirley opens the door to the class and says a catchphrase while looking straight into the camera.
- And we're back: The show's fourth season finally returns after an aborted October 19 premiere, debuting on February 7, 2013. The story picks up sometime not long after the Season Three finale "Introduction to Finality", considering that was set in the summertime and the returning episode begins at the start of the fall semester.
- Previously: Several sequences from Abed's sitcom fantasy feature versions of previous Community moments including Jeff and Britta in the Season One episode "Modern Warfare". Abed is continuing his therapy with Britta.
- Middle Eastern Magic 8 Ball: A few ongoing story arcs are set up for the new season are hinted at in the premiere.
- Jeff is graduating early once he gets a History class credit.
- Troy and Britta's relationship is slowly progressing.
- Annie is reconsidering her major.
- Dean Pelton is now Jeff's neighbor.
- Ben Chang has returned and apparently has amnesia.
- Shirley and Pierce's sandwich shop is still open.
- School supplies:
- In Abed's "Happy Place", he imagines the study group wearing hipster glasses. Both Jeff and Britta are seen wearing such glasses in the real world.
- Troy's letterman jacket is seen in Abed's sitcom fantasy.
- School uniform: Dean Pelton is again seen wearing the Duali-Dean of Man outfit from "Virtual Systems Analysis" in Abed's TV sitcom fantasy.
- Returning students: Neil, Vicki, Annie Kim, and Leonard return for this episode. In Abed's sitcom fantasy, Evil Abed returns.
- Familiar faces:
- Annie's Boobs (the monkey) makes an appearance in Abed "Happy place" sitcom fantasy.
- Actor/comedian Fred Willard is cast as Pierce in Abed's sitcom fantasy.
- A sweet ride: Dean Pelton's Prius, previously seen in the Season Two episode "Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples's, is featured. Shirley and Annie have made it a target of their senior prank by filling it with popcorn.
- Googly eyes: The relationship between Troy and Britta is featured.
- This must be the place: The cafeteria becomes the site of the "Hunger Deans". Jeff's apartment is shown briefly.
- Winger speech:
- Subverted twice. First, when Jeff tells the group about a speech he had planned and later when the Jeff in Abed's Happy Place delivers a Winger Speech while in real life, Jeff had just walked up to the group.
- Rhyme time: Britta starts reassuring Abed about the senior year by saying, "Here's the deal, Jessica Biel".
- Awww!: Shirley and Annie coo when they hear about Troy and Abed's tradition of making a wish at the school fountain.
- Attention students!: The dean announces to the students that a competition will take place to determine who gets to take the class called, "The History of Ice Cream".
- Annie gasps when Jeff declares he wants the History class to be the last one the group takes together.
- The study group reacts to Jeff's news that he will graduate early.
- Pansexual imp: Basically everything Dean Pelton says and does with the red balls.
- Gay, he's so gay!: Subverted when Pierce notices that "Jeff's really going after that ball," and tries to make a gay joke but fails to see the obvious double entendre. This continues throughout the episode as Jeff collects six balls.
- Turning it into a snake: Britta tries to convince Troy she can adequately fill in for Abed through dance.
- Biggest laugh of the night!: Britta and Troy struggle while splashing around in the fountain.
- Annie's boobs: The monkey makes an appearance in a flashback.
- Britta'd it: Britta messes up Troy and Abed's wish making ritual.
- The Dean tells the students to "Simmer Dean" when they start to get agitated. He introduces them to a competition called "The Hunger Deans".
- In Abed's "Happy Place" sitcom, he imagines the Dean dressed as an aviator and saying, "Coming in for a lan-Dean". When Jeff asks him if he is serious about the group having to take another three years at Greendale, he says "In-Dean I am".
- Made a bad impression: Annie does her impression of Dean Pelton while in his office.
- Man-crush: The Dean tries to stop Jeff from graduating because he's not ready to see him leave Greendale. It's revealed that he moves into a condo just beside the one where Jeff lives.
- Nice outfit: Dean Pelton dresses up in two different dresses. Two of the Dean's "assistants" are dressed as unicorns.
- Troy and Abed in the Mor-ning!: Troy and Abed sing, "Troy and Abed back from summer!" at the start of the episode.
- Changuage: Ben Chang makes an appearance at the end of the episode with a note that says he has "Changnesia".
- Shout out: President Obama and Osama Bin Laden are both mentioned by Abed when mentioning how his wishes last year in the fountain regarding them came true.
- TV Guide: Troy points out that Storage Wars would be unacceptable collateral damage of Britta's wish.
- IMDB: Star Wars would be another casualty of wishing to end all wars.
- Use your allusion:
- Abed imagines the study group as a cartoon show that is obviously referencing "Muppet Babies". Donald Glover and Ken Jeong, who play Troy and Chang, were in the most recent Muppet Movie.
- The Hunger Deans is a riff on the young-adult novel and movie franchise The Hunger Games about a ruthless contest of survival between a group of teenagers in a dystopian society.
- Abed's Happy Community College Show is a parody of the multi-camera sitcom format that has long been the standard for television comedies. The use of a laugh track/live studio audience, mugging for the camera, actor replacement, crossdressing, and sudden oversimplified resolution are all tropes of this format.
- Up against the wall:
- Abed's anxiousness about the fourth and possibly final year at Greendale and all the changes that are happening to the study group is meant to be a nod at the tumultuous behind the scenes firing of the original showrunner and creator Dan Harmon, the loss of several staff writers and producers, and the anxiety of fans and critics worried about the quality of the show under the new showrunners, Moses Port and David Guarascio.
- Jeff tells the group that he took classes over the summer and now only needs one History credit to graduate. This is a reference to the shortened 13 episode order for Season Four, as previous seasons had twenty plus episodes divided into two distinct sememsters. Additionally he tells them about a speech he wrote to break the news to the group and goes on to describe what a Winger Speech is all about.
- Ryan Schwartz of Voice of TV didn't care for the episode: "The humor that appears in their actual version of Community is no more subtle than Abed’s imaginary sitcom. Even if much of the heart that Harmon’s incarnation had is still present, it’s diluted by this broader kind of storytelling they present in this first episode back." He's also concerned about Troy and Britta being an official on-screen couple and Annie's infatuation with Jeff, which he thought she had largely overcome in "Virtual Systems Analysis." But he did think the Changnesia storyline "looks like it’s gonna be hysterical."
- The first of Alan Sepinwall's two reviews at HitFix, he said that "these early episodes … feel like everyone is trying much too hard to recapture some lightning that flowed out of the bottle when Harmon left" and argued that the show would be better off trying to find a new voice that plays to the strengths of the new team, citing NYPD Blue and The West Wing as shows that successfully reinvented themselves after losing showrunners with distinctive voices. In the second, posted after the episode aired, he added that it felt "half-baked" and "flat," but allowed that he enjoyed how Abed's multi-camera happy place commented on fears about what the loss of Dan Harmon would bring, and that "the Community version of Muppet Babies as the happy place within the happy place made [him] smile".
- Andrea Speed of cxPulp gave the episode three and a half exclamation points in a circle out of five. "In a weird way, this felt like hitting all the Community notes – wackiness, always wackiness! – but in a rudderless kind of way." She praised the performances, mentioning McHale's and Rash's in particular, and like Schwartz sees "some promise" in the Changnesia plot. She concluded, "if this was at all like former Community, it was only in the sense that it was one of Community’s weaker, clunkier episodes."
- Maureen Ryan of Huffington Post wrote, "new executive producers Moses Port and David Guarascio do a reasonable job of extracting the kinds of comedy Community fans have come to expect," but added that while their version of the show is "acceptable and amusing … it's also flatter and less surreal than the old-school version," before concluding, "We'll just have to see if they have something new, entertaining or even profound to say with this group of characters."
- CNN's Marquee blog praised the episode. They loved the Dean, found it "just as weird" (in a good way) and quotable as ever, and they're looking forward to seeing more of Troy and Britta's courtship and Chang's reintegration to Greendale.
- Chuck Barney of the Contra Costa Times wrote in a review republished by the aptly named Troy Record that yesterday's episode suggested that the 4th season of Community will be "as boldly absurd, trippy and adventurous as ever." He went on to say, however, that "it didn't exactly have me doubling over in mirth" and that "the dialogue seemed to largely lack that smart, sly edge," but nevertheless he concluded that "from the early looks of things, [the show] seems to be holding up just fine."
- Todd VanDerWerff of the A.V. Club posted a long reviw the gist of which was that this episode was "shaky but … roughly in a class with some of the shakier Harmon episodes" — he gave it a letter grade of B — but that the series, judging from this episode and the third, seems to be showing signs of formulization and what David Gerrold called "hardening of the arteries," leading him to wonder if the show is on an inevitable downward slide and to ask if getting six seasons and a movie would really be a good thing.
- Laura Aguirre of ScreenCrave thinks the episode was "good, but far from great." She liked Abed's happy places, particularly the casting of Fred Willard as Pierce and the fake promos at played in the bottom left corner of the multi-camera happy place. She was less enamored of Annie's plan to have senioritis this year: "that's not something you plan." She gave the episode a rating of 7.5 out of 10.
- Mike Papirmeister form the The Filtered Lens said, "It’s good to know that, despite its new leadership, Community is still able to deliver its unique brand of humor that we’ve come to know and love." But he also said that "something about this episode felt off," though he was unable to say exactly what, and he remains optimistic that "the kinks will work themselves out at the season progresses." He gave the episode a letter grade of B+.
- TV Fanatic's Matt Richenthal wrote that the concept underlying "History 101" was "ridiculous and hilarious, but it also tried a bit too hard to wink at the audience," resulting in an episode that "felt forced." But he liked seeing Shirley and Annie together, he thinks there's a lot of potential in pairing Troy and Britta, and overall he liked it enough to give it a rating of four stars out of five.
- The New York Times weren't excited about what they saw, calling it a "sad simulacrum" of what the show once was. "The show has been dumbed down, its humor broadened past recognition, and the two episodes provided for review … have fewer laughs between them than a single good scene from the old Community."
- Jerome Wetzel the TV King autocratically declared Jeff dancing the tango with the Dean "one of the greatest scenes in Community history," and overall he seemed very pleased with the episode, particularly with how it provided additional insight into Abed's and the Dean's characters. But the head that wears a crown is uneasy: "there is something just slightly off throughout this installment … it's not quite up to that level of magic that I am accustomed to from this series."
- Former Beauty and the Geek contestant Matt Carter saw "some of the old charm" in the episode, but thought much of the episode felt forced and that they tried to cram too much into it. But he pointed out that "Community premieres have never been their best episodes," and while he admits to having "cause for concern," he's not planning to give up on the show.
- Luke Gelineau of TV Equals thought the opening scene was "pretty clever," and he's looking forward to seeing how the writers handle Britta and Troy dating. But he didn’t feel like [last night's] installment packed many laughs and that it seemed "a little like they’re just trying to make a show like Community, whereas in the first few seasons it all felt a little more effortless."
- The Head Geek Furious of GeekFurious is still furious that Sony fired Dan Harmon, and only slightly less so at the episode. He called the episode "some fan-fiction version" of Harmon's creation and criticized pretty much every aspect of it aside from Abed's multi-camera happy place, which he deemed sufficiently Harmonesque in concept, and parts of Britta and Troy's story. Despite that, he still gave it a rating of 78 out of 100 before deducting 50 points in protest over Harmon's ouster.
- Tim Surette of TV.com saw signs in the episode that the show could "still be as good as it's ever been," but still thought it "felt like someone else's Community." Continuing on the same theme, he added that the episode "was more of a competent facsimile than the magic-making sitcom that was so streets ahead." But he liked the fake promos and Fred Willard.
- Having watched the first and third episodes of the 4th season, "Kelly West of Cinema Blend has concluded that while it's too early to say for sure, the new season appears to be sticking to the "formula [that] has earned fans' steadfast devotion through the years." Speaking specifically of last night's episode, she said it had "some great jokes" and that it "works as a re-introduction to the group" after so many months in limbo.
- Verne Gay of Newsday said much the same thing: "Community remains adamantly, defiantly disconnected from anything else on NBC, or on TV for that matter. … If anything, new show runners David Guarascio and Moses Port have overcorrected." He gave the episode a letter grade of A-minus.
- Meghan Kaminski of Character Grades gave "History 101" a B. "This season premiere [was] a tad disappointing. It was fine – but it wasn’t particularly ambitious." She also, of course, assigned grades to the characters. Abed and the Dean both earned an A; Troy and Britta, a B-plus; Jeff, Annie, and Shirley, a B; and Pierce, a C.
- Eric Goldman of IGN thought Guarascio and Port "did a pretty solid job" of convincing Community fans that "the show was not going to suddenly be, say, "Whitney." There were several parts he thought didn't work, such as Shirley and Annie's story and Pierce's efforts to come up with his ball joke, but "overall, 'History 101' gave [him] reasons to be hopeful" about the rest of the season.
- In Britt Hayes's review for ScreenCrush, she wrote that she really liked Abed's happy places, the Dean's role in the episode and Jim Rash's performance thereof, and Troy's struggle with the demands of having a girlfriend and a best friend while Abed appears mostly unconcerned. But she also said it was "a little disconcerting" to see so many familiar elements recycled for this episode, e.g. "wacky, high-concept, meta comedy and Abed using his imagination to escape real life, while Jeff learns the value of friendship and Annie struggles with whether or not she’s made the right choices regarding her future. And Pierce sitting there like a senile old man."
"Hisotry 101" writer and Community Executive producer Andy Bobrow in an interview with Splitsider.com gave his own criticism of the episode:
- “I [feel] we shouldn't have done that much stuff. When I look at it, the critiques that I'm anticipating are "This is a sign of new showrunners trying desperately to assure die-hard fans that we're still gonna be the same.”
- “If we did it over again, I wouldn't have done a Troy/Britta story or a Shirley/Annie story. I would have lumped everyone into The Hunger Games, and just done those two stories. Some version of people competing to get into a class, paired with Abed seeing the world differently in multi-camera. It would have just made it two stories instead of five [LAUGHS].”
"History 101" had 4 million viewers and a 1.8 rating among adults 18-49, up 6 percent from its previous debut with "Biology 101" back in September 2011 and and up 38 percent from a 1.3 for the previous season finale "Introduction to Finality" on May 17("[Entertainment Weekly]")("[zap2it.com]]"). That was good enough to land them third in their time slot, trailing only "The Big Bang Theory" and "American Idol", which likely would have beaten almost any show on almost any night. On the Twitter, "Community" racked up a whopping 20 trending topics during the initial broadcast. Critic Brian Collins from Badass Digest noted the seeming disparity between the show's popularity and its ratings last year:
- “So a joke at the end of the episode trended worldwide as it aired, yet the show had series low-ish ratings per Nielsen? Good system.”
On August 7, 2012, Joel Mchale released a photo via his twitter account of the cover of the script for the first episode of Community Season Four which revealed the what subject the study group is taking in their final (?) year at Greendale. On September 7, 2012, Entertainment Weekly revealed more details about the Season Four premiere hinting at the multiple outfits Dean Pelton would wear along with the tango he would do with Jeff. Various promotional material including a clip Joel McHale brought to his appearance on the Ellen show was released in anticipation of the October 19 premiere.
Premiere date delayEdit
On October 8 NBC released an official statement that "Community" premiere would be changed to a date to be determined later. On October 30, NBC made the decision to have Season Four pushed back to next year and "History 101" was rescheduled to air on February 7, 2013.
Production designs for the "Greendale Babies" sequence
Various clips from "History 101" were released online and shown in interviews to promote the episode:
- TV Line Casting for new Community teacher
- TV Line Matt Bloom cast in Community
- Joel's photo he tweeted of the script
- Entertainment Weekly spoilers
- zap2it.com "History 101" ratings
- Slate article on History 101 by Aisha Harris