November 17, 2011

Quick Thoughts: COMMUNITY, "Documentary Filmmaking: Redux"

It's a little ironic that the first episode after it was announced that NBC would be benching Community (and thus starting a #SaveCommunity campaign on Twitter) was "Documentary Filmmaking: Redux" because it's the version of the show that can be off-putting to the casual viewers that fans are trying to convince to watch.

One of the critical standouts from Season 2 was "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking" which was about Abed making a documentary about the Study Group which ended up being a deep character study that also examined the group dynamics. The sequel pretty much did the exact same thing, but this time Dean Pelton was the one being studied.

The reason why the timing of "Documentary Filmmaking: Redux" was ironic had to do with the fact that it was one of those episodes that was very reference heavy as it was the show's riff on Apocalypse Now and Hearts of Darkness, but it also took a supporting character that can be taxing in large doses and put him center stage. I just don't see how "Redux" could have been accessible to someone who watched Community for the first time, and it really didn't sell the show as a whole to new viewers since we didn't get much from the bulk of the main cast. The darker tones and lack of laugh out loud jokes probably didn't help either.

That's not to say that it was a bad episode because there was a lot to like about it...for fans. For the first time in a long time I thought that Jeff (or more accurately Joel McHale) was legitimately funny due to his Pelton impersonation. It was a piece of inspired acting that made me realize that he could be a real comic force if he stopped being so damn smug all of the time.

 The continued evolution of Troy and Britta's could-be romance also made the episode enjoyable. I know that this show was originally built on the idea that Britta and Jeff were supposed to end up together, but having her and Troy together feels natural and less forced. Plus, the show's been pointing to the possibility of Troy replacing Jeff as the leader so it also makes sense.

Everything else was hit or miss. For one, I really enjoyed how Annie's attention to detail led to her unhinging because that was a very true character moment. That final meta scene where Abed acknowledged that they're being filmed was also a nice touch. I was glad that they toned down Chang and Pierce, but Luis Guzman was the oddest bit of stunt casting. Yes, I know that he's an alum, but still.

"Documentary Filmmaking: Redux" may have been too Community to win over new fans, but it was ambitious with enough funny (albeit not laughably funny) elements to keep me on the bandwagon. I am interested how this episode will do in the ratings and to see if there will be a save our show bump. I'll have my fingers crossed, but somehow I doubt it will.


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