Community’s Season 4 has followed a bizarre path so far. The early episodes had far too much try-hard, desperately trying to mimic the Harmon era’s energy, references and quips and failing miserably. My concern at the time was they’d lose the human in these characters, instead making them plastic joke delivery devices.
By “Advanced Documentary Filmmaking”, just the 6th episode, the show has gone in the opposite direction and is unrecognizable from that start. This episode feels as if the writers got up on a groggy day and were too depressed for comedy, but as a requirement, they mailed in a few tired gags like Annie and Troy imitating buddy cops, Pierce’s racism and the documentary gag, mostly wasted. The heart and energy behind the jokes just isn’t there.
What they tried is to make a more dramatic episode about Jeff learning and growing. But this arc is neither new or profound for Jeff - and anything tender about the last scene with Kevin, is wiped away when Chang is revealed in the credits.
For the most part, this episode just made me feel “Is they all? They don’t have any more than this?” It felt mailed in. A signature of the Harmon era was every episode aiming for the fences, for good or bad - trying to make every episode the best of the series. There’s no way the writers can honestly look at this episode and say they tried to make the series’ best episode, or one that’s anywhere near highlight of the show.
Because of the first 2 trainwreck episodes of this season, this isn’t Community’s worst episode, but it may be its most boring, irrelevant and skippable on a rewatch. It’s a clear grade below any single episode in the first 3 years - a failure.