“And We Could All Use a Little Chaaaaaaaang”- Community Season 4 Episode 6 Review- ‘Advanced Documentary Filmmaking’
Chekhov’s Gunman is a film and television blog moderated by Kevin Lanigan, a future writer of movies and TV and current Good Will Hunting-esque mathematical savant. (That’s a Smash Mouth reference in the title, for all of you who are interested).
I was a little nervous about this one. Since I view the three (now four) documentary episodes as the sacred cows of Community, this one had a lot to live up to. A lot of shows could do paintball episodes, although admittedly not as well. Hell, Glee could probably do it. But no other show in history would thrice forsake its entire format for an entire episode. And it helps that all three are relentlessly funny and intimate portraits of our favorite study group (out of aaaaaaalllll the shows that consist of study groups. Namely none).
It doesn’t help that the episode was not only going to be about Chang, which is dicey enough as it is, but memory-less Chang. This is bad, seeing as I’ve already marked memory loss and one of the worst things in the world including babies and consummated will-they-won’t-theys. This looked to be bad news bears.
And it was more like enjoyable news bears.
There is now no doubt in my mind that Chang is a mole for City College, slowly feeding them information for something something something that will be determined later. It’s going to come back bigger later, most likely in a way involving paintballs and a genre of some sort. It will definitely be a thing. Big, big predictions from Chekhov’s Gunman.
I will concede now to all of Community’s violent, angry, Internet-bred fans that, yes, the show is not as funny as it once was. I am now chuckling more than I am falling off of my friend’s futon with laughter. Congratulations, Internet, I have concessed.
But will you not concede to me that this happens to every sitcom? Like, all of them? Rhythms are established and we as an audience are no longer as surprised by what happens and surprise is the root of comedy. Season Three is almost always one of the more daring the show will do and then it levels off into Season Four.
It happened on How I Met Your Mother. It’s probably going to happen on Arrested Development. And it is currently happening on Community. We have to recognize that if we’re going to properly judge this. A sitcom, even the great ones, usually go from belly laughs to just being a comfortable place to hang out. Unless you’re Parks and Recreation, the Great Equalizer. Congratulations, Parks and Recreation, you are the only exception.
Dammit, I just referenced that song that I hate…
Now, less about bad high school dance songs and more about tonight’s Community.
It’s good to have Jeff Loses His Shit back in our lives. He’s always been lovely, first emerging in “Beginner Pottery” and then showing up subsequently in episodes like “Contemporary Impressionists.” McHale is very gifted at losing his shit, one of the best in the biz, up there with the Great Shitloser himself Nicholas Cage, which is kind of funny when you think about it.
His “Jeff the Doubter” arc has been done before, but I still enjoy seeing his calm and methodical mind pitted against insanity like whatever wonderful thing Peirce was doing with his hands tonight. Chevy Chase was more on in that bit than he’s been all season, summing up for me that, yep, he’s just a racist.
McHale has really been nailing it this season, even with whatever that “New Jeff” stuff was earlier this year. With the dad storyline last week and him rocking it this week as well, he’s really been bringing it home this season. Home like to Chang’s trout farm home. Speaking of obvious segways…
Did we really need to see Annie and Troy play detective again? Eh, probably not. But what we got was so lovely, what with Annie being called Houlihan and some man being deathly afraid of trout vengeance (I simply do not understand how that is not already a Goosebumps book). Donald Glover was in full “Cute Troy Where He Shows His Front Teeth A Lot” mode tonight and it was lovely, with some nice partnering with Alison Brie. The writing this season could have been abysmal, but with this cast somehow we’d still laugh.
Abed was in the background today, marginalized and watching, as Abed really should be. I love Abed, but other characters tend to be better at carrying stories. And his reaction to the footage tonight was great.
Also: Good call on bringing back Senora Chang. Added to the mystery.
Perhaps the best part of tonight’s episode is that I really didn’t know where we were going. I was pretty sure Chang was faking, but for a while I thought maybe he’d Chang’d the wool over my eyes and that Jeff was just being a jerk. I was sitting there, listening, intent to find out the secret to Changnesia. I didn’t expect to feel that way, but tonight really got at me.
If there’s something that’s really missing from this season, it’s Britta and Shirley. As I watched their scene together, and Britta’s talking head, I realized just how much I missed seeing good stuff from them. Britta’s “Basically a Therapist,” but let’s see her do more. A few episodes from now we’re getting something called “Herstory of Dance,” which feels like Britta’s name should be all over it. Also, next week, she’s a Greendale Ambassador, which can only lead to good, good things and many, many gifs. And Shirley joins a Phys. Ed. class. So there’s that.
Overall, tonight gets a solid B+ and this is one I’ll really enjoy sitting down with for years to come. The Jeff and Chang scene in the cafeteria will always warm a special Chang in my heart.
And I will always love this show’s use of my name. Awwwwwwwww, Kevin. The show is talking to me…
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