Community: Advanced Documentary Filmmaking

“I first met Chang when I hired him as a Spanish teacher at Greendale. Then he became a disgraced student, a psychopathic music major, a homeless vent dweller, a security guard, keytarist, power-hungry war lord, and, now, Kevin. It’s sad to see him like this. Well, it’s mixed. He was pretty terrible before.”

In my review of 'History 101' I said that it would be difficult to judge this season from just one episode. Well, now we've had six and I am officially worried. As many of you have mentioned in the comments for the previous reviews, this season is just not working out. Sometimes it feels like they are trying too hard to recapture that old black magic. Other times it feels like they aren’t even trying at all. It has not been terrible. There are flashes of genius, some great banter, and some touching character beats, but that vital spark which made Community stand out from all other sitcoms is just not there any more.

There were two main problems with this episode. The first was that it offered us nothing we haven't seen twice before. This is the third episode in what is now a trilogy of documentary parodies that also includes 'Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking' and 'Documentary Filmmaking: Redux' (I don't count 'Pillows and Blankets' because Abed didn't make that one). You don't have to be Abed to know that the third part of any trilogy is usually the weakest and this episode was no exception. There was no real purpose to the documentary format here. It contributed nothing to the episode and was never anything more than a gimmick. It felt like, rather than create their own voice for the show, David Guarascio and Moses Port were trying to recreate the show's previous one by recycling past glories.

The second problem was the abundance of 'Kevin'. 'Kevin’ has long outstayed his welcome. This whole plotline is just a way to keep him around. But he doesn’t need to be kept around now. Why can’t the show quit him? My great fear is that, should Community be renewed for a fifth season by some miracle (more than likely a final season of 16 episodes so they can get to the magic 100 episodes and rake in the syndication money), ‘Kevin’ will take Pierce’s place as the study group member everyone hates. That might not exactly be the darkest timeline, but it is pretty damn close.

Notes and Quotes

--The captions beneath everyone's names weren't that funny. 'Partner', 'Businesswoman', 'Sceptic', is that really the best they could come up with?

Troy: "In an investigation one dude always has to go opposite the other dude. That's how they get things done."

Abed: "It goes on like this for another 12 hours. I couldn't get though it all and I sat through Tree of Life."

Troy: "Growing up I had a cart named Troy, a bird named Troy and a hamster named Troy. They're all older than me... Oh my god!"

Please forgive the shortness of this review. I just didn't really have much to say about this episode. Two out of four somethings. I couldn't really be bothered to think of anything. That is how uninspired I was by this episode.
---
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.

15 comments:

Josie Kafka said...

Mark, I agree. I'm so happy that reviewing Community is not my responsibility.

Juliette said...

I found this one surprisingly tolerable for an episode all about Chang, but that's judging by my lowered standards. To be honest, I wasn't wild about some elements of Season 3 - while 4 is undoubtedly substnatially worse, it feels like the direction the show was inevitably heading in, just getting there faster.

The worst thing about the miracle Season 5, if it happens, will be the absence of Megan Ganz, who seems to me to be the only writer left who even slightly gets what makes the show work.

celticmarc said...

Well Mark...

I rest my case. The magic is gone.

But I'm faithful nonetheless : I'll keep watching until the very end.

ChrisB said...

Agree with your review, Mark, and with the comments. The magic is gone. Shame.

Anonymous said...

Chang as a regular member of the group would indeed be the darkest timeline. *shudders*

Just make Chang go away. The only part of this episode I kind of liked was Jeff's early refusal to even consider Changnesia as a real thing (but that was almost negated by his dumb lesson at the end of the episode), and the dean's frustration with Abed about not telling them what Jeff was planning.

Don't do this to me Community. No more Chang. Especially not in the group. Just make it stop.

Mandy

Billie Doux said...

I so agree, Mark. It was a decent episode, but they've done the filmmaking cuteness before, and better - why do it again? I also don't understand why we're spending so much time with "Kevin". Is it that other people really like him and we don't?

Rish said...

I'll be honest with you. I loved Chang in season 1. Tolerated him in season 2. And do you know why?

Every character needs someone they have a chemistry with. The study group had each other. Jeff is kinds being pushed away now. The Dean had Jeff before he went all creepy stalker on him. Chang had Duncan. The character of Duncan gave so much balance to the show. He was the anti-Chang, and he sort of was Jeff's life outside the group. It's no surprise then that the show has increasingly deteriorated since he left.

Nick said...

I'm curious. Is chang *universally* hated?

I mean, I don't really mind him. I don't love him, but I don't really hate him enough to want him gone. Is there anyone who feels like me, or am I alone in my apathy?

But I do agree about the "feeling" of community to be largely missing this season.

Anonymous said...

Apparently some people do like Chang.

"but with its clear intention to bring about the return of the psychotic force of nature that is Ben Chang, the show made huge strides in the right direction. Yes, after weeks of under-use, the brilliant Ken Jeong is finally back in the game, which can only be a good thing."

http://www.denofgeek.com/tv/community/24853/community-season-4-episode-6-review-advanced-documentary-filmmaking

Mandy

Mark Greig said...

Right now I am praying that Community can pull a Supernatural and get back what it has lost.

sunbunny said...

This is probably my least favorite episode ever. Even the parts I liked (Annie and Troy) felt forced. Sadness. Are we done with the documentary format yet? It was such a crutch in this episode.

Scott Riggan said...

So is this the point where I should give up on Community? Those of you who have stuck it out into seasons 5 and 6, what do y'all think? Because if it never gets any better than this, I'm out.

Josie Kafka said...

Scott, things get good again in Season Five. Dan Harmon returns and it is a solid season of the show that I would recommend. You would be a-okay skipping the rest of this season and jumping to "Repilot," the first episode of Season Five.

I still haven't watched Season Six, available on Yahoo Screen, because the player crashes every few minutes. (I think that's about my computer's difficult relationship with Flash, rather than Yahoo's fault.)

Mark Greig said...

Season 5 is a definite return to form, but season 6 is...how do I put this? It's not season 4 bad, but it does feel like they've ran out of ideas and only made it because SIX SEASONS AND A MOVIE! That said, the final episode is perfect.

Scott Riggan said...

Okay. Okay. Okay. I'll stick with it then. I can't bring myself to skip (SKIP?!?) episodes. Because who knows what chaos would result from that kind of recklessness. And to be honest, even a mediocre Community episode will lead me to an amusing review here at Doux Headquarters.

Thanks, Josie and Mark.