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'Community: The Complete Fifth Season' is an unquestionable return to form

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Community: The Complete Fifth Season

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The onslaught of TV box sets is about to begin as the beginning of August tends to mark the countdown to the return of the prime fall lineup. Things are changing everywhere for the gang from Greendale Community College as life outside its walls isn't quite going as well as everyone from our favorite study group had hoped. In "Community: The Complete Fifth Season" now available on DVD, people return and characters leave in what ends up being one of the more heartfelt and absolutely zany seasons that has ever been on record.

It's time to throw out the rule book as everything that was old is now new again at Greendale Community College when Jeff Winger's (Joel McHale) attempt at being a public defender goes up in smoke and he ends back at Greendale in order to try and get a class action law suit against the school for being a ''diploma mill" helping people get jobs that they just aren't qualified for. His attempt to revert back to his old Winger Ways back fires as his ruse to Save Greendale turns into an actual plan to save Greendale when his old study group (Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie & Donald Glover) decide that their lives have kind of sucked since they left and decide to re-enlist. With his plans down the drain and little options in front of him, Jeff faces a reality that he never dreamed or even thought that he wanted, as Greendale's newest professor of law as the escapades continue for these friends who "Bear Down" for the craziest year yet!

With show creator Dan Harmon making his return for this season, this set of 13 episodes has certainly recaptured the joie de vivre and the gonzo comedy of the first three seasons that made fans fall in love with these characters to begin with. Much better suited for the shorter 13 episode run then the standard 22 episode run, the writing is fresh and vibrant as the laughs and the genuine emotion come hot and heavy as this show seemingly keeps rebooting itself after walking up to death's door (and even going through it once or twice). Harmon and his team know how to keep the energy light but also emotional and serious at the same time which is best displayed in the episode Geo Thermal Escapism where Abed has to confront the reality of life without his best friend Troy (Donald Glover left at episode 5) as well as episode 3; Basic Intergluteal Numismatics in which they look for the infamous Ass Crack Bandit in the framework of what could be best be described as an early 80's Michael Mann film.

While the remaining members of the group strive on in the absence of Troy and ****** (I won't spoil it) some more regulars join on for the fun. Dan Rash and the great Ken Jeong return as Dean Pelton and Chang while John Oliver's Professor Duncan returns full time to enjoy the fun and the great Jonathan Banks joins the fun as Professor Hickey who takes the newly minted staff member Jeff Winger under his wing.

The remaining ensemble are as sharp as ever and this season takes us to some pretty interesting places. Joel McHale settles into the role of enigmatic leader who is finally coming to terms with his love for this crappy little school and the people inside of them. The entire season is very much about coming to terms with who they are, as Gillian Jacobs takes Britta to some sad places as she has to learn to be OK with loving herself and Abed has to learn how to deal with other people's emotions as he finally gets a girlfriend. However some themes remain constant as Jeff struggles with his feelings for both Annie and Britta and while we didn't get a lot of Shirley this year she did develop a good chemistry with Jonathan Banks that one can only hope continues into season 6.

As we get even closer to the (what seemed to be) impossible dream of #sixseasonsandamovie, "Community: The Complete Fifth Season" takes enough care to have our characters go on a journey that we actually can engage with as we see them evolve and get more than just the jokes as we have reached a stage where we genuinely care about these characters.

5 out of 5 stars.

Special features on this two disc set include cast & crew commentary on every episode, outtakes and two behind the scenes looks at the making of episodes during this season.

"Community: The Complete Fifth Season" is now available on DVD from all major retailers and via Digital Download from iTunes.

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