Community season 3 episode 1 review: Biology 101

Community’s back for a third season, and the first episode contains monkey gas and forcible shaving. Here’s Emma’s review of Biology 101...

3.1 Biology 101

Greendale Community College’s very own answer to the Breakfast Club is back, as the new school year kicks off with Biology 101. Despite the pre-season talk of normalcy and appealing to a broader audience, we can all breathe a sigh of relief – everyone is just as weird as they always were. Except ex-Senor Chang. He’s at least 30 per cent weirder.

That’s not to say that nothing has changed, though. Far from it – with the addition of two new staff, Greendale is about to become quite an intimidating scholarly environment. Intimidation number one: the appearance of a heretofore unseen Vice Dean, who would seem to be so named, because that’s where Dean Pelton’s balls are – in a vice.

Despite Pelton’s semi-serious attempt at running a slightly less rubbish college – the goatee is all part of the no-nonsense Dean – the revelation that Vice Dean Laybourne controls all of the money, and dislikes Dean Pelton intensely. pretty much means the college is up the creek, with no money to buy a paddle… or a boat.

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While that might sound like the dullest Community storyline ever, when you bear in mind that the Vice Dean, a man with no qualms about forcibly removing a man’s disagreeable facial hair, is played by the one and only Mr John Goodman, in all his shouty, intimidating glory, you know you’re in for a treat. And we were. In an episode that was surprisingly downbeat for a season premiere, Goodman’s seismic berating of the squeaky Dean was without doubt one of the episode’s highlights.

The episode’s other highlight came in the form of the second new staffer on campus, and the study group’s new biology professor, Dr Kane. So far so blah, until you realise that Dr Kane used to run Balitmore. Yup, Michael Kenneth Williams, perhaps better known to many as the shotgun wielding, jack-you-as-soon-as-look-at-you Omar – the scariest man ever to go grocery shopping in silk pyjamas, has taken up at Greendale.

Not only is this a heavenly casting decision for Wire aficionados, but the ex-con Dr Kane takes an instant and totally justifiable dislike to Jeff. Ordinarily, that would put the good doctor at the top of Community’s top five characters list. Or at least, it would if John Goodman hadn’t also joined the cast this year. It’ll be a tussle for the top spot, and a fight that’ll be well worth watching.

Storyline-wise, Jeff lost his mind once again with the reappearance of his elderly nemesis Pierce, who you may recall flounced out of the group to much rejoicing last year. Clearly, Jeff is not the most forgiving of smarmy ex-lawyers, but his hatred for the petulant OAP – once again claiming to be a new man – is starting to seem a little bizarre.

We get it, Jeff doesn’t want to turn into Pierce, and he’s scared it’s already too late. And judging by his behaviour pre-monkey gas, he’s probably right. With that out of the way, perhaps Jeff can find someone new to direct all his lawyerly bile towards – as annoying as Pierce is, surely there’s nowhere else to go with it? They’ve thrown him out, sent him to Coventry, laughed at his injuries, taken his money and generally behaved like he’s not there, and he still wants nothing more than to be part of the group. Time to let it go, Jeffrey.

And that’s pretty much it for Biology 101. There was some other stuff about Abed discovering the Community-verse equivalent of Doctor Who, and the laughable notion that Britta can solve mental health issues, rather than cause them, but really, the episode was all about the new staffers. An impressive debut for both, we can but hope that both the Vice Dean and Dr Kane continue to flourish – it would be a crime of enormous proportions to waste such an opportunity.

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Dan Harmon, we’re counting on you.

All the Community season 2 reviews can be found here.