Community: Coppola-ing With Madness

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With its future murky and only a few episodes left in the season, Community is under a bit of pressure to perform to back up the rallying cry and universal recommendation of the internet, the knight in shining armor to Dam Harmon's dorky damsel in distress. So when Harmon tweeted out, "AND, tonight, celebrate Community's unschedulization with the least-accessible, least-marketable episode in its alienating history!" I gritted my teeth and crossed my fingers.

Community could have used one of its whoppers last night, but instead played to its hardcore audience with the bizarre mental collapse of Dean Pelton. "Documentary Filmmaking: Redux" was about as film-geeky as the show has ever been, choosing not to pay homage to one of the most acclaimed films of last century, Apocalypse Now (nice shout-out with the "Redux" suffix), but rather to channel the lesser-known documentary made about that film, Hearts of Darkness. It was great for those of us who enjoy seeing Community push sitcom boundaries, bad news for Joe Schmoe who tuned in to see what all the Tweettering, Bookfacing, and Friendstering in praise of the show is all about.

"Documentary Filmmaking: Redux" started off with a hilarious outdated "Come to Greendale!" student recruitment video, featuring a Blossom lookalike, Chuck's Captain Awesome, and the most fearsome basketball player ever. It turned out that Dean P had been commissioned to update the video and get it out of the fax-machine era, and his quest to make the production a hit became a scary journey of a man terrorizing his crew as his ego and obsession inflated too fast and pushed every one else up against the walls.

This was all captured on film by Abed's camera, who was making a documentary on the making of the video. The episode was a throwback to Season 2's "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking" (it even upped the celebrity cameo factor by upgrading Levar Burton to Luis Guzman and Jeff Garlin, but sadly, there was no Troy freakout) in that it was shot entirely in mockumentary style. In a rare act of consistency on my part, I have to say that I'm still not really a fan of Community having its characters look into the camera and talk. I'm probably in the minority on this, and that's fine, but the mockumentary format just irks me now. Bleh!

But that's not to say the episode wasn't fun. Everyone playing an iteration of Dean Pelton was fantastic. Jim Rash stepped out of his normal persona and killed it (as usual) while spoofing Apocalypse Now director Francis Ford Coppola, and even stepped into the role of Marlon Brando and Charlie Sheen's dad at times. But for my money, Joel McHale's performance as pseudo-Dean was spot-on brilliant, and Ken Jeong as the bald-cap wearing understudy only added to the chaos.

Overall, I enjoyed "Documentary Filmmaking: Redux" more than "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking" (we have to compare the two, don't we?), but I wouldn't put the episode on my mixtape of the series' classics even though the second time I watched it a like it a lot better. What did you think?

– Britta: "I'm in Psych 101 and even I don't know what's happening." I'm starting to really enjoy psych-student Britta and her complete misunderstanding of what the major really entails. I was a psych major myself, and I saw a whole lot of people convince themselves they understood the way society works after reading one chapter on Jung.

– All you Tritta and Broy fans must have gotten excited. Looks like those two are on a collision course for romance. But what happens when Britta comes over to sleep in Troy's blanket fort? What does Abed do? What will Annie think of Britta moving in on her first crush? Personally, I'm a fan of Jeff and Britta being together, even it's just for drunken fighting and making out, like in "Mixology Certification."

– I don't like to see Pierce relegated to tangential cut-aways, but he was pretty funny, especially when he stepped out of Jeff Garlin's trailer.

– It sounds like the rally to get more viewers to tune in worked! Community jumped all the way up a tenth of a point to a 1.6 rating last night! Okay, that's still crummy, but it's a start.

Follow writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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