So Andy Bobrow pretty much had the same concerns with the first episode that I did and pretty much the same suggestions on how to fix it:
What sticks out to you to as being too ambitious as far as moments in the opener go?
In the episode, we’re doing an Abed fantasy sequence, a movie parody, animation, recasting Pierce, the multi-cam trick, Abed descending into a psychotic break, a movie parody, Dean in a dress, establishing Troy and Britta’s relationship – which we didn’t do very well. It just ends up being sort of a free-standing scene – trying to do a C-story with Shirley and Annie. When I look at that whole mess, I guess I can say, on the positive side, it’s amazing that we worked it all together because there’s so much going on. Then, 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.” Especially, that we threw in animation. We tried to do an Abed’s descent into madness [story] that admittedly doesn’t work half as well as Abed’s Christmas madness story. Maybe the review that I’m anticipating is there’s a hint of desperation in the season opener. There’s too many tricks and because of that, we’re robbing from actual storytelling.
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].