Community "Alternative History of the German Invasion" Review: What's the Opposite of Schadenfreude?

Community S04E04: "Alternative History of the German Invasion"

Hello! It's me again. Back in this rotating game of Hot Potato with a Community review instead of toasty spuds. Last night was the fourth episode of this brand-new season, the final leg of a special edition of The 4-Episode Test (trademark TV.com), and I think that after these first two hours of Season 4 we can officially say that Community is a charmless imitation of its better days. I don't say that while wringing my hands with glee or celebrating that fact. I'm weeping it out, guys. This SUCKS. 

When I shared my thoughts on the Season 4 premiere, I likened that episode to an impostor dog purchased by parents to fool their kid into thinking the family dog didn't get run over while the kid was away at summer camp. It looked the same, it was still a dog, but it wasn't dear old Mr. Ruffington von Leglifter, the best friend we used to count on. That analogy still holds today; in the season's second and third episodes ("Paranormal Parentage" and "Conventions of Space and Time"), the dog looked less and less like our old friend... and also peed in our slippers and rubbed its butt all over our toothbrushes. If you still like the show, and I hope you do, then great. It still has one of the best casts on television today, no one can argue that, and it still exists in the wonderful Community universe that was created in seven days by its god Dan Harmon. There just happens to be some sort of New Testament thing going on here in Season 4.

HOWEVER! "Alternative History of the German Invasion" actually showed signs of improvement over its Season 4 predecessors because it didn't rely on the shameful pandering to Community fans we'd seen in the previous three episodes. Thankfully, last night's episode took place at Greendale Community College, and not in Abed's mind, Pierce's mansion, or at an Inspector Spacetime Convention. Things felt relatively normal for the first time this season, and that was comforting. It feels weird to say, but this episode was better for only seeming like a bad episode from Season 3 instead of like the fashion show of outrageous costumes we've been watching for the last few weeks. 

"Alternative History of the German Invasion" brought back the Germans (minus the only actually funny German Juergen, played in "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism" by Nick Kroll, who was replaced here by Juergen's unintentionally stale brother), and they instantly had beef—or pig blood stuffed into sheep intestines—with the study group and reacted by taking over the group's usual study room. It was a sparklingly clean us-against-them scenario as the study group, acting as a whole instead of the motley crew we've come to know them as, was thwarted by the Germans at every turn because the Germans were always one step ahead. In the B-story, Chang returned to campus supposedly afflicted with amnesia, and Dean Pelton thought it was all an act and sought to prove it. 

Okay, wasn't the the best story the series has ever done, but this show has gotten away with far less and turned it into magic (missing pen, anyone?). But the biggest problem with "Alternative History of the German Invasion" was that it forgot to be funny or interesting, even though I think it was just as funny if not funnier than the previous three episodes. This is all subjective, of course, because the pitfall of reviewing comedy is that we all get our jollies from different things, so opinions will and should differ, but there are a few specific reasons that laughter was absent last night. 

First, the Germans were painfully bland and only roused half-arsch jokes about efficiency and Hitler, mostly from Jeff, who has been reduced to reciting Winger Zingers without passion in Season 4. Second, the individual personalities of the study group were wiped clean as the conflict became just homogenous Germans against homogenous college students. It didn't have to be the Greendale Seven in this episode, it could have been any seven sitcom people. Third, what should have been an interesting C-story with Abed and Lukas's gaming history went completely unfinished, leaving me to wonder why it was there in the first place. And fourth, the Dean-Chang bits floated away with zero weight, and threw Dean into a nurse's outfit for a lazy attempt at laughs. Jim Rash won an Oscar! Now he's being treated as a Barbie doll at dress-up time. It was funny when Community put the Dean in funny outfits a handful of times per season, but my lord, this explosion of wardrobe props is flat-out embarrassing. 

All that, plus most of this week's plot points made no sense. Changnesiac was brought back to Greendale and into the Dean's supervision by authorities for "immersive therapy"? The Germans were stopped for celebrating their own heritage, one of the penalties being the retraction of study room privileges? This script was softer than a present-day Pierce in an airplane bathroom with Eartha Kitt and no potency pills.

But the silver lining to all this is that "Alternative History of the German Invasion" felt like the most Community-esque episode of the fourth season, devoid of what the new Community crew thinks the fans want (PLEASE STOP IT WITH THE COSTUMES!). We were back at Greendale. It wasn't an attempt at another "special" episode, which Season 4 has so far whiffed on. It didn't try so hard. And there were some pretty good moments sprinkled in there that didn't feel like a stretch. The callbacks to "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" and "Cooperative Calligraphy" felt like the old days (although with the latter, most people should have been at the Puppy Parade and not trying to get into the study room). "Someone must have changed the channel to USA, because I just watched a Burn Notice!" shall forever be quoted. The group switching from Grande-sized coffees to Venti-sized javas as they tried to wake up earlier on the second day of beating the Germans to school was one of those great small details (but why didn't they have buckets of coffee on Day 3?). And Dean inserting his own name into a sentence while chastising Chang for doing the same thing was clever enough. 

But sadly, it still wasn't the old Community, and the show's future will always suffer the disadvantage of being compared to what came before it, and longtime fans will always have the built-in excuse (no Harmon) to dissect it with extra vigilance. 

It's worth nothing that I also thought Season 3 had a high bar to overcome, and we all know that turned out great. I tip my hat to the fans who still adore this show and I will keep my eye out for improvement (don't be shy, send me a Tweet when it does get better), but for now I'm dropping out. Auf Wiedersehen, Community. We'll always have Seasons 1 through 3.



STUDY NOTES

– As you could probably tell by the gang wistfully looking at the first day of class of "The History of Ice Cream," "Alternative History of the German Invasion" was supposed to be the second episode of the season. It was moved back to S4E04. Why? The likely theory is that NBC thought it sucked, and wanted the show get off to a better start. Or to use Valentine's Day—which coincided with Episode 2—as a way to air the Halloween episode. 

– Pshhhhhhhtt. Putting Annie and Britta and Shirley in Oktoberfest costumes isn't going to work. Actually okay, it did.

– What a waste of Malcolm McDowell as Professor Cornwallace! Will anyone even remember he was on this show?

– What a continued waste of Pierce! 

Game of Thrones reference? Works for me. 

– The Winger speech to close the episode was one of the weakest speeches he's ever given. It felt like, "Hey, we need to wrap up this episode, get Jeff in there and have him say something with some of that cutesy piano music in the background and let's get to credits."

Community tied its series-low rating of a 1.1 last night. And Ken Jeong has already booked a pilot for next season. Take that information as you will.




Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter if you want to: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (103)
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Nick Kroll made the Germans funny. When this show isn't funny, what's the point? It isn't funny at all anymore. If you're going to cover a Thursday night show why not try a funnier show a show that isn't just running around unfocused and unfunny and waiting for the cancelation call? Try some"Archer".
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I really am wondering what they're doing with Chang. My favorite version of him was the angry and uncaring teacher.

So is this really his "innocent" personality breaking though? Like we saw him arguing with himself when "The 7" were considering inviting him into their club? Or is this a short-term bit where he'll ct evil and crazy again.
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This episode was way better than the first three but it's still not the old Community we all loved.
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It just plain sucks now, even the acting and delivery feels really flat and stale. I don't get however, why you hold season 3 in such high esteem. It peaked at season 2 clearly, and already started downhill in season 3, which just felt way too forced.
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Right? It seems like the cast's heart isn't even in it anymore. Most noticeably to me is that Troy doesn't seem like the usual Troy. Even Winger's speeches appear to have lost something.
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I think the writer convinced itself that season 4 wouldnt be the same without Harmon and then nothing could change his mind. In fact this last episode is exactly like episodes of season 2 and 3 and season 4 doesn't seem that different but people simply refuse to admit that Community has never been as good as it was in its first season when the show actually knew were it was going. Parodies after padories, it lost a bit of its identity and while season 2 and 3 (and 4) are enjoyable and funny, there are not as good as it used to be.
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Quite solid and definitely the best this season yet. I don't envy the task before the new creative team -- you can tell they're trying, but it's got to be one of the most thankless jobs ever.
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This reminds me of the Inspector Spacetime epispode when Pierce Britta'd the American version badly. NBC Britta'd Community. Well, at least the first four episodes anyway. "Alternative History" was still better than the first three of the season, yet worse than any other episode from the first three seasons (Think I basically just said what the tv.com reviewer said, but in a different way). It's still watchable though. Watchable like TBBT is: Barely. Still keeping my fingers crossed though. And we all thought Chevy Chase was just being his usual a-hole self when he quit. Turns out, he may have had the right idea.
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i was pleasantly surprised by this episode. it really felt like a regular episode of days past. i thought a few of the jokes were clever (second time in four episodes, which isn't something i would put up with in any other show), plus chang isn't annoying anymore. i didn't think the dialogue of the german students was funny (same as the foosball episode), but that could just be me.

unfortunately i can now say that the first three episodes of the season sucked since they can still pull off a decent episode. i would be okay with the writers taking out high-concept scripts in order to keep the story centered in school and have me actually care about the characters and their relationships again. s4ep2 proved that the new creative team can not pack emotions and a mystery manor plot (plus a twist and reveal) in one episode successfully, so I would enjoy if they kept it simple and funny (most important!)
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this was meh
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I kinda agree. I thought it was a good episode. Better then the other 3. I give it a 8 1/2 out of 10. I think Community is getting better actually. It started off slow and each episode is slightly improving in my opinion. I JUST WANT A 5TH SEASON!!! I will continue to support it good or bad. All Community fans should. The fans had Burn Notice and German Invasion trending on Twitter. That was awesome. Besides here is a thought, if TBS were to pick it up. They could actually bring back Harmon then probably. I want to get to #SixSeasonsAndAMovie.
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Well ok, I agree Chang is one of the most comedic things that happened since the start of community (nobody remembers the funny british guy who was guidance councellor and tried to do nasty things to Jeff in S1, what was his name?), we do know sometime that Pierce will be yanked (due to the problems with Chevy Chase) buuuut... somehow this episode made me laugh for the proper amount a 20min episode would make me laugh.

It also featured funny voices and acting from Alyson Brie -- and if you have noticed the scenes with Annie in the History class, they start with McDowell saying he had a fling with a coed (and Annie covers herself in shame), but then pop quizzes come, and in the final History class scene, you can see Annie with a "slutty" outfit pink top.

The only negative thing I have to say, and I think you all will agree is that the new screenwriters do not utilize the characters, or rather most of the characters equally. They seem to have a favorite actor and that shows on the screen, but it's not a character-centric theme. Maybe it would have been better to do that and explore the comedic aspect.

I did like the "Germans" "thing" (and not because of the real situation happening here in my country nowadays), but the lesson that the study group learned by the end was rewarding. Greendale was always a dump (and so as much of the depiction of community colleges in tv, cinema) so having the group giving back something was priceless.
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I didn't take it as Annie covering up in shame... as in she was the coed.

I've seen that reaction before (though thankfully never caused it). A woman is wearing a revealing top and learns that someone nearby is a perv of some sort, and then covers up her cleavage. Which kind of fits here: the guy went after a co-ed, so perhaps DON'T show him your fun-bags. I guess, unless you want an A on a pop quiz :-)

Then again, I've ALSO seen that reaction when the woman is covering up in shame or what-not.
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John Oliver played Professor Duncan back in season 1, and I thought that was a great piece of casting, but it couldn't last because the actor is also a writer for The Daily Show which is produced in New York, not LA where Community is produced.
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The best side character of the series imo
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I agree to you both
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So so agree. Though I'm on the fence as to whether the show has actually gotten worse or we collective assume it has because we know the creative force behind it is gone. I mean, could these episodes have been in any other season? I don't know. What I do know is that I laughed once so far in these past four episodes and I don't like it. None of the characters seem themselves anymore and none of them have the same witty banter. I really don't like the show but I'm sticking with it because I can miss 20 minutes in my week and really want it to improve.
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That's actually a really good point on us possibly (that's a huge "possibly" btw) coming to a conclusion because we know all the behind the scenes details. I'd rather that be the case than that it actually sucks. I'm willing to believe that I'm becoming a stubborn old man way earlier than I should.
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Poor community
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Poor Dan Harmon, the expectations are so high for him that anything he makes now will be a let down.
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Just using a slight drop in quality to hammer home an opinion about Dan Harmon, its pretty transparent, he barely wrote any episodes of this show, so blame the writers and stop making him out to be some sort of god who who wrote all the episodes.
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Tim's final "Study Note" in his review of the season 4 premier:

"Don't forget, it wasn't just Harmon who left. Writers/producers/directors/actors Chris McKenna, Neil Goldman, Garrett Donovan, Dino Stamatopoulos, and Anthony and Joe Russo also departed. This is going to be an interesting season, guys. Hold me."

That being re-said, Dan Harmon is deserving of all the praise he receives on these forums and more.

I implore you (and anyone else reading this) to go to this link to read a fantastic piece written about Dan:

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2011/09/mf_harmon/

Are you building a golden idol yet?
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It works! Yay! Anyway, I read that article and it's really good, his method reminds me of the way Joss Whedon approaches rewriting scripts. Harmon's success is based as much on his desire to follow through as it is on the formula itself, if he wasn't there enforcing the formula it wouldn't pay off. Oh, and wait, that's clearly happened now that he's not there! Thanks Network Executives who have no artistic vision and no talent and base creative decisions on entirely wrong-minded metrics that usually end up destroying the thing they seek to enhance because they are the wrong types of people to run these sorts of jobs, you've proved your value once again by destroying something that was once good.
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HOW DID YOU MAKE A LINK AND NOT GET IT EDITED?!? Is this part of the site's subtle redesign? That'd be great. TV.com!
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I am so glad someone read that article! If anyone questions the genius of Harmon after reading it they're imbeciles.
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Sadly, I agree with Tim, about pretty much everything :(

"PLEASE STOP IT WITH THE COSTUMES!" (except for Annie in an Octoberfest costume, she can wear that in every episode from now on)
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I actually sat through this episode wondering why I wasn't enjoying it one bit.I definitely think this is the worst episode this far. Most of the jokes just felt too forced and cheap. I have been thinking that the reason I haven't been enjoying this season so far was because I was biased in knowing Dan Harmon wasn't a part of it anymore. But after this episode I can conclude that the show simply has become much much worse
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I enjoyed Community for the first time this season because, despite the writing flaws, the characters were fairly true to themselves and manufactured relationship drama wasn't being shoved down our throats. Sadly, comparing this episode to the worst of Season 3 might end up being the best compliment we will give to a Season 4 episode (prove me wrong, Community). I also find it ironic that the idiot talking heads at the 5th place network decided that the best episode of the season so far was, in their opinion, the worst of the bunch and needed to be pushed out a couple of weeks. If this had been shown 2nd instead of 4th, we might have actually had a slightly sunnier outlook on the remainder of the season at this point in time. After they are done destroying Community, the only show left that I watch on NBC will be Parks & Rec. My how far they've fallen.
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Remember when Greg Weisman left "Gargoyles" at the end of Season 2 because he was demoted by Disney and they put someone else in charge to make a 3rd Season? It's pretty much that all over again with Community and it's really unfortunate.
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My favorite responses here are the ones claiming Tim has lost objectivity, and their proof is... their subjective opinions!
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My second favourite responses are the ones claiming that no one would have noticed a change in Community if we didn't know about Dan Harmon's firing, and their proof is ... nothing!
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I am really tired of the constant Community bashing/complaining...i personally really liked this episode but I also liked the previous ones as well. The 4 episode test does not always say whether or not the show is worth watching...personally i feel like it might for new series. If i used the 4 episode rule for this show i might have not even continued watching Community when episode one or any of it's subsequent episodes premiered. That is not to say that season one was Awful but the premiere was pretty conventionally cynical...i mean it was ok for a show but it it was standard. Lets just face the fact that Dan Harmon (the Deity) is gone and won't be back and that these new people need to find their footing. I just feel like The fans of Community have completely idolized Dan Harmon and made it seem the whole show never had any underwhelming episodes. I plan to keep watching because of it's cast...including Chevy Chase.even if he will be gone by season's end
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I completely disagree. The first episode was definitely OTT but I've really enjoyed the last three episodes, and I think this was the best of the lot. It's a shame most of these negative reviews seem to be tainted by a lack of objectivity (both pre- and post-Harmon).
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Still better than season one's The Art of Discourse.
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There wasn't even a new episode of TBBT last night, so the 1.1 rating is worse...

It was the most Community-ish episode of the season and there were good lines, as well as the good concept of seeing some things from other characters' POV, but... needs more, um, MAGIC.
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Also did anyone notice in "Paranormal Parentage" while Britta was helping Jeff realize his daddy issues and be the first to find out something so personal to him, Troy was with Annie saying something like "wow Annie, you're easy to talk to" or something about their conversations together? I don't think I can figure out what they are doing with coupling on this show, I thought it was decided with Troy/Britta and Jeff/Annie (whom I still can't completely see together).
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P.S. Where did you go to school, to not know who Cornwallis was (or how to spell his name)?

I sentence you to two dozen viewings of "The Shot Heard 'Round the World", from Schoolhouse Rock.
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It's strange, I get what Tim's saying about this being the most community-esque episode so far but it was also my least favorite. I do see it's not the same show this season but it's still the same cast and to me they are what make the show and what I tune in for. Which might be why I found this episode (like mentioned) the most bland, too much attention on the Germans, who I did not find funny. My favorite moment was them flashing back to the crazy things that happened in the study room and how it affected other people (no one thought at the time how this might be disruptive for other students because I never actually thought of anyone else using that study room), that was some old-Community cleverness. All in all I'm still enjoying it, I think this cast is keeping it alive and funny and I will most definitely stick around until it ends, I can't imagine true community fans just giving up on it, it is not that bad.
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I liked the other three episodes, but this one, not so much.

Is NBC incapable of learning from the mistakes of others? Did they not see how Fox mishandled Firefly?
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I think a much better example is how Fox handled Breaking In. In my opinion, it was the best new comedy of 2011. Michael Rosenbaum was especially awesome. But it got weak ratings, so they cancelled it, and then brought it back in a different form. Michael Rosenbaum had been replaced by a really annoying woman (Megan Mullally). It felt like a completely different show, and no one wanted to watch it.
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I see dressing Britta and Annie in cleavage-y clothes as it going 'mainstream comedy' to the utmost. like your roadtrips and van wilders. I never thought annie was much more than eye candy but at least they dressed her modestly fairly often. Now it's grasping for viewers any way they can. much the same way the big bang theory was once clever and now resorts to sex related jokes for attempts at humor.
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It was nice to just have a regular episode of community and not another gimmick. There no chance of me jumping ship this late but I can see why you'd be tempted to. I enjoyed this episode well enough despite it's flaws and the waste of a cameo. It felt more natural and more episodes like this wouldn't be a bad thing.
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I DIDN'T HATE IT!

Each time after watching the first three episodes of this Dan Harmon-less season I felt this haunting sensation of uncleanliness and emptiness. Like Shang Tsung had just used his finishing move on me after a spirited fight (gamer humour), and then took an even more spirited shit on me afterwards (crude humour). It didn't feel very good is what I'm trying to say.

BUT

"Alternative History of the German Invasion" didn't leave me with quite the same hollowed out and shit-laden feeling. That's not to say this episode had me dancing on a cloud made out of good cheer and hearty laughter, but at least it quelled the voices inside my head that ever so softly yet even more maddeningly whisper "It will never be the saaaaaaaaaaaame." (They like to over-pronunciate.) I may not be dancing on a cloud, but at least the dark pall of pervasive darkness has been temporarily lifted. That's progress, right? RIGHT?! Shut up, Voice #2!

The reasons for the moderate improvement have already been listed by Tim. (Good to have you back, bro! ... Wait! You're leaving? Again?! ... I guess I don't blame you.) But wouldn't you like it if I repeat those reasons in my own words? (I'm going to assume you said "yes".)

First of all, being back at Greendale helped immensely. Community is more than just the Study Group. It's also a collection of loveable misfits/extras that really give the college an organic and surrealistic quality simultaneously (oxymorons, baby!). It was good to have the Dean back. The lines he had this episode felt natural and uncontrived. Other than the unfortunate nurse outfit, I thought the writers had "Dean" a good job with Pelton. But more than that, I also enjoyed seeing Leonard, Vicki, The Human Being and the motley concoction of Greendale students. For us fans, Greendale holds a special place in our hearts, so I actually like how they highlighted that connection.

But more importantly, TROY WAS TROY AGAIN! We all have our favourite characters, but Troy was mine, and I don't think the new writers screwed up anyone as badly as Troy in the first three instalments. Of course, part of the blame for this is his relationship with Britta. Dan Harmon was never really interested in stereotypical "relationship humour", but he was slow playing both Troy+Britta and Jeff+Annie. Which was pretty awesome now that I think about it. Then the new writers came in and all of a sudden Tritta/Broy was immediately a thing. I don't know what Dan Harmon would have done, but with the new guys, they don't work together, they aren't right together, and it would be better for all involved if they never displayed them as a couple again. And not having any Tritta (that's the one I'm going with) moments is probably why Troy didn't seem like his body-snatched counterpart.

Here's a few Troy quotes that made me laugh more than anything else in this season:

Troy: "I don't get history. If I wanted to know what happened in Europe a long time ago, I'd watch Game of Thrones."
Annie: "Troy, that show takes place in a fantasy realm. This class is about the real world."
Troy: *Excited Gasp*
Abed: "Not the show."
Troy: "You need to think before you speak."

Jeff: "I'm not here to argue Angela Jerk-els, beat it!"
Troy: "Oooooh! Someone must have just changed the channel to USA, because I just watched a Burn Notice ... Who's Angel Jerk-els?"

Security Guard: "Is there a problem here?"
Jeff: "Yeah, there's a problem. These Düsseldorfs won't leave our study room."
Troy: "Nice! ... I don't understand any of these puns. I think I need to learn history."

Day 3: Crazy Early - Troy crying. (Not a quote, but it still made me laugh.)

All in all, this episode was by far the best of season 4, but still woefully short of the genius of Dan Harmon. The Germans were absolutely horrendous without the elevating presence of Nick Kroll. Malcolm McDowell (one of my favourite actors since I watched "A Clockwork Orange" at the tender/too-young age of 14) was criminally underused. Most of the jokes still fell flat and there continues to be a superficial quality to the storytelling.

BUT (Part 2)

I didn't hate it. In the first 3 episodes the new writers were pissing on us and saying it was rain. Then they gathered that piss from the gutters, poured it into pint glasses and said it was 5% beer. This one didn't taste like a Canadian (that's the name of Canada's favourite beer. original, right?), but it didn't taste like piss-water, either. More like a Bud Light, which is two full levels above piss-water. They didn't give us gimmicks or feigned epic-ness, but a more grounded and stable showing. And in doing so made the first serviceable sample of the new Community. Let's hope they can continue the momentum as the season goes on.

Oh, and Britta and Annie in Oktoberfest costumes TOTALLY worked.
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My first reaction to the episode was "IT WASN'T TERRIBLE!" lol

Loved your review FringeFanatic.
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Thanks! "IT WASN'T TERRIBLE!" Haha! I don't know if we should be happy it wasn't as bad as we thought it would be, or depressed we've come to a point when a "not terrible" episode of Community is something worth celebrating ...

Excuse me a moment ... *SOB*
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LOVE the beer anology. 100% agree.

Mmmmmm, beeeeeeeeeeeeeer!!
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Haha! A fellow beer lover. Cheers!
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I'll keep watching until it gets better...but eh....at least we have New Girl, Raising Hope, Parks & Recreation, Happy Endings, Cougar Town, FX Comedies, Go On, etc that are still going strong.
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Amen, brother. Amen.
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It's pretty sad when the best thing one can say about a once beloved show is "I didn't hate it", isn't it? That was my feeling exactly.
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During the cold and restless nights, I sit up in my bed and stare out my window into the inviting darkness, resisting the pull of the empty void, and in the bleakest recesses of my soul, I wonder if Community should have ended after three seasons ...

Yeah, it's pretty sad.

(P.S. I'm a very melodramatic person.)
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I feel your pain.
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you're doing something good dropping out of this Tim, you're not being objective in my opinion, these last couple of episodes were hilarious and brilliant and yes, it is no season 3, but at least it's Community again!!! (also judging by the ratings this one's gonna be the last season of this gem of a show and I'm going to enjoy it so you go watch reruns, Tim!)
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Thanks Tim for coming back and telling like it is instead of trying too hard to find positive elements in episodes to appease everyone (nothing personal Cory). It's a shame that you are jumping ship.

As for this episode, well it was easily the best episode of the season thus far. I wish this had aired 2nd, it would have stemmed our Community depression a little. Stop f*@king with episode ordering networks! I'm just so glad this episode returned most of the structural elements that had been missing (college setting, stories involving taking classes, actual plots and subplots to episodes, Chang) that I'm willing to overlook the poor execution on many parts of the episode. There were some bits that I really liked, like the getting up early sequence and the flashbacks to the guys hogging the study room. This episode's quality is starting to approach the weaker episodes of season 3 which is a real positive. Watching this it's so much better to know that the new showrunners are actually willing to construct episodes properly and not just turn the show into the formless mess that were episodes 1-3. We have to assume that their execution will improve, right? So I think there's a lot to be optimistic about for the rest of the season. Anyway the show would have to get a lot worse for me to stop watching.
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This felt like normal Community, to me. And as a result I take this pledge: I offically vow to stop comparing pre-Harmon and Post-Harmon Community. Join me, will you?
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You can really feel Chevy's burning desire to leave at this point; he's ceased to try.
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Well it's not like he has any material to try.
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I thought this episode was much improved from the previous three. Tim, I think you've lost your objectivity since Harmon left, you've become sour and cold. This really was a good episode. I enjoyed it and wouldn't have been able to pick it out as any different from the other seasons.
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Oh come on, Tim, don't be a bitch about this. If you were a true fan you wouldn't jump ship after four mediocre episodes; episodes that, had they aired in Season 3, you wouldn't have said diddly about. So stop whining and enjoy what you've got.

"Zat must be nearly vun hundred luft balloons!"
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"Community is a charmless imitation of its better days". Yes, that's a perfect description of what the show has become. I liked this episode, but I didn't love it, I guess? But four episodes in, and I still haven't laughed. NOT ONCE. And that's really sad for me. Especially when my other favorite comedy (New Girl) is getting so good that I actually watch the episodes two or three times because it makes me laugh that much.
When Community was struggling with the ratings last season, and cancellation seemed inevitable, and when we finally learned the news of a 4th season order, I was elated that we were going to get another 13 episodes of sitcom greatness. And now Community has become a lackluster version of its former self, it's almost painful to watch. Now I'm not one to stop watching a show after I've invested myself with it for years, I know I'll watch till the end. But once it's finished, I think in my head there will only be three seasons of Community. Indeed,"Introduction to Finality" has a series-finale vibe. And I think that's what it will become to me. :(
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Omigod! I feel terrible 'cos I actually enjoyed this episode until I read your review. I hope this doesn't mean that I'm not a true Community fan it's just that I like to try and make the best out of a bad situation. I didn't enjoy the first 3 eps but I thought that this was ok. 'cos it did that thing I like when Community shows that although the group are the heroes of the show they ain't perfect. despite this they admit to their faults and move on. I didn't think the Germans were THAT bad, kinda like the jokes about them getting up earlier than the study group. I thought the 'Changnesia stuff was pretty weak and a waste of Chang and the Dean's talents (sorry too lazy to remember their real names! I know the Dean is Jim Rash but I forget Chang's) I also it when Community do flashback as a) they are complety new or b) they put a different spin on things.
It will obviously NOT be as good as when Harmon was a show runner, but I have hopes that it won't COMPELTELY awful ( Like Misfits became after all the main leads left - just wait until you guys get to season 4 of Misfits, it's heart breaking it really is. I feel like someone raped the show.) Anyway I digress. I gues what I am trying to say is - yes it is not as good as it was, but it is not as bad as it could be. Does anyone else agree?
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"... Yes it is not as good as it was, but it is not as bad as it could be. Does anyone else agree?"

Yup, I agree with your sentiment about this episode in particular. I do think one or two or all three of the previous episodes were almost as bad as they could be, but this one was okay with me.
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I AM THE TRUEST REPAIRMAN!!!
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God. Awful.
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I think it's awful for the fans of this show to leave it so quickly
4 episodes is not enough to completly give up on the best comedy on tv
i admit these four episodes were less than season 3 but you have to consider the scedule change because in my opinion that's the main reason for Community's decline
so to sum up it's NBC's fault that Community is not what it used to be
and if this show went for 6 seasons like this i will always watch it because i'm a fan
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it's been improving. 2 was better than 1, 3 was better than 2 and this ep was better than 3. if they can keep it up we might be back to good-ol'-Community in a few weeks.
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After hating the first 3, I enjoyed this one. I guess the episode not having any gimmicks and being a good 'ole Greendale episode makes sense. I thought the scenes where the group couldn't reserve the study room time and instead had to go into the other ones were pretty funny. Especially the slow motion chair breaking.
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Amen.
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This one was better than the first three episodes of the season, but it's still missing something. I was just glad it wasn't terrible.
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I did like the part where they showed the study room from the Point of View of the OTHER students. They lost a pen! That short bit was solid.

But yeh, most of it was pretty cookie cutter. It wasn't bad per-se, but it wasn't exactly the same as the old days.
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C'mon Tim, that's a LITTLE harsh, there's some spark of life left here. Not much, but some.

Weird, I totally felt the same way and came here to say that this episode felt to me like Community finally, just a bad episode of Community.

Not having Nick Kroll as the main German was a disappointment, he really brought a lot of life to that guy. Dang Tim, are you reading my mind or are these things just that obvious???

Malcolm McDowell also seemed like a waste of a great actor. Damnit, loan me my mind please, I need to drive in a few minutes.

You're right, the plots made no sense. And Jim Rash's nurse outfit was stupid and cheap and thoughtless.

That Burn Notice line was fun. The gals in Oktoberfest garb wasn't nearly as hot or funny as it should have been.

None of them have been my favorite, :-( indeed.
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That did feel off. This is the second episode in a row with guest stars that should have been fantastic that were utterly wasted. There could have been any one of a dozen plots with McDowell that could have been unbelievable same with last episode, but were just wasted.
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This episode was just as good as a lot of the episodes from previous seasons.

I am almost positive, as someone else also says, that if you never heard of Dan being removed - these reviews would be so very different.
Obvoiusly you deny this - but lets agree to disagree then:)

All in all a very solid episode, which indeed was better than the 3 previous episodes of this season.
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I completely agree with you. While none of the episodes have been Community at its best, they have been what the majority of Community episodes have always been like. I think the fact that we know Dan is gone is making everybody look at it much much harsher than if they never knew.
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I think this is the first episode of Community I actually honestly didn't like. From the moment I didn't see Kroll back as the German I kind of said to myself, self, this is portending doom. And doom it was. The whole thing felt off. I think there was literally 5 minutes of them just walking into the school. Whose bright idea was that? They didn't act like the group, they didn't rebel and push people away and then come to a realization. No hilarity ensued. Nothing. They spent 90% of the episode doing really nothing. It was bad. And no, Brita and Annie in Oktoberfest outfits couldn't help it. I have had that dream and it still didn't help. And yea Pierce has been a waste, well he always kind of has been. But if I was Chevy I would have left too.

And the word you are looking for Tim is Mitgefühl, which among many things means sympathy. I feel bad for the cast.
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This episode was the kind of the final nail in the coffin. Though I found certain parts funny, like the "Hogan's Vilains" line, but Jeff's speech at the end was a bad ABC montage. Community doesn't solve it problems with heartfelt solutions that help everyone else. I don't believe the writers know the characters anymore, a fact accentuated by Troy saying, "It's like a Darren Aronofsky film." Isn't Abed the tv and film guy, isn't Troy too stupid to make that kind of observation? Does NBC think that dumbing this show down would bring in more viewers?
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I came to say the exact same thing. We all know Jeff always gives a speech that solves the situation but this one was totally off. It is never that cheesy, it felt like a 90's kids show trying to teach a lesson to the audience. I don't don't how to explain it, but it was just weird, off and too heartfelt, as you said.. They may as well sing the "Barney & Friends" song for next episode ending.
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