Community Mocks Mockumentaries

I know I'm going to get lambasted for this one, but I didn't think Community's "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking" was as good as everyone else did. While some are calling this the best episode of season 2, I place it middle of the pack (and by no means did I hate it). But there's a reason for that! And that reason is in fact half-intended by the writers.

"Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking" took shots at the documentary format that's been popularized and--let's face it--so incredibly overdone by shows like The Office, Parks and Recreation, and Modern Family. And Community pointed out the flaws of that form of narrative by diving headfirst into that narrative itself. Much respect to that.

In that sense, it was another brilliant step for Community, which isn't afraid of taking on the giants even on its own comedy block. Applause to the show for going for it full-speed ahead.

"It's easier to tell a complex story when you can just cut to people explaining things to the camera." - Abed

Exactly, Abed. And ditto for the "series of random shots which when cut together under a generic voice over, suggest a profound thematic connection" that Modern Family makes its trademark, with mostly positive results. Both of those tactics do work, but they are also formulaic and lose a bit of their potency when they're expected, don't they? And at this point in the lives of The Office and Modern Family and whatever else, it's something that we come to expect weekly.

Community, on the other hand, excels at giving us the unexpected. Each episode is different from the previous on the outside, with the core consistency coming from its warm, fuzzy interior about a group of outcasts with a unique bond and a growing friendship.

But the mockumentary format used in "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking" (shaky cam, zooms, "confessionals") did so well in looking like those shows it was trying to rib, it almost didn't feel like an episode of Community at all. And, while I respect the gusto with which the episode tackled its premise, I missed that old Community feeling. It felt like they tried to write an episode of The Office using the cast of Community.

Or maybe I just hate it when people talk straight into the camera. The laughs were all there, but the packaging irked me. Do I really hate people talking into the camera that much? I'm going to have to get over that.

As for my favorite moments: Troy, Troy, Troy, and Troy. His freakout in the waiting room? A classic Community moment. Someone give Donald Glover a gift certificate to Outback Steak House. He's earned it.

But trouble looms. Our problem with Pierce... yikes. We thought this might serve as a redemption episode for Pierce, but if anything it made things worse. How far down are they going to drag Pierce before it's impossible to bring him back up?

Next week the show goes after politics with a student body government being formed at Greendale. I've already heard great things about this episode. But what else would I expect from TV's best sitcom? Oh yeah, the unexpected.


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (27)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
I totally loved this episode it was hilarious because it was so different
Reply
Flag
The only problem I had with it was that it seemed like by the end that this was the episode that would redeem Pierce, but as you said, it just made him seem more evil. I have no problem with the mockumentary format. I love The Office, Modern Family, and especially Parks and Recreation (which is sometimes better than Community). I'm loving this season, but what I miss from the first season is episodes where the gang takes a class with a cooky guest-star teacher. We had Betty White at the beginning, but nothing since then. Unless you count Professor Professorson. We need a Jeff Blow-Off Class episode!
Reply
Flag
I liked this episode, but I'm really starting to miss the gang just hanging out. Sure, it's fun when they do crazy things like this, but the reason i fell inlove with this show, is because of the characters, and I wish there would be a little more screentime of them just doing regular community collage stuff. and something really has to be done with pierce, i love
Reply
Flag
I thought this episode was one of the best in the series so far. I laughed all the way through and the mocking of mockumentaries was classic community, as you said. This show just keeps getting better and better, which I thought would be impossible after the Mafia episode and Modern Warfare. can't wait for next thursday :)
Reply
Flag
Completely agree with the points.This episode felt completely different to the others this season or last. I've been hating what the show has been doing to Pierce the last few episodes. His personality changed from an idotic old man to one of the most vindictive people around. Hopefully they do the redemption episode soon... And Troy was awesome.
Reply
Flag
Pierce is the best, his comments are hilarious! all the crazy stuff that he does, amazing...not the best episode though but with community is hard to choose one
Reply
Flag
Sorry Timmy!! That episode was freakin' hilarious. I get what you're saying about the packaging, but I totally disagree. LOVED this episode. // and in the end, Pierce didn't redeem himself, but he did explain why he was acting out... so it's a start...or is it? I think it is. just saying... or am I? ok too much coffee for meeeeee
Reply
Flag
This was one of the best installments I've seen. "Community" is amazing.
Reply
Flag
So we're just not liking non-CBS shows now?
Reply
Flag
Long live CBS who is paying your salaries for writing such awful articles about their rival shows! This site should be renamed TV.CBS.com ! Shame on you !
Reply
Flag
This episode is my third favorite of the season, because while the entire cast looked at the camera and Chang'd their mannerisms a bit, that would be what to expect when you put a camera in people's faces. The thing that made me laugh the most was Troy cutting out Shirley's talking head, because it made it seem like he knows she's the least interesting of the gang, quickly followd by Pierce's "My father held grudges, I've always hated him for that.", followed b Troy freakout number one, followed by the Jeff's Dad/Britta's dad conversation, followed b Troy's second freakout. In fact, most of this episode was joke-packed into oblivion, even mores o than usual.
Reply
Flag
Troy's freak out was absolutely hilarious!!
Reply
Flag
Troy's freak out was absolutely hilarious!!
Reply
Flag
Second best of the season behind Dungeons and Dragons. This show is consistently inconsistent, and I love it.
Reply
Flag
Really enjoyed the documentary style. Creative episode with lots of laughs (though maybe a few less than most episodes). What more can you ask for?
Reply
Flag
Not the best, not the worst, but still very Community, which is very fine by me.
Reply
Flag
I agree with all of the points. this was a decent episode but not one of the best. I thought too that it seemd a little too similar to the office as well, it actually felt as if I was watching that show. It didn't bother me that much though Although that means they did a good job on that front. Loved the troy parts and the reading rainbow guy XP I also liked Pierce even less in this episode. I know that that writers are planning to redeem him in later eps-hope that starts soon.
Reply
Flag
Way better than the "amazing" Dungeons and Dragons episode.
Reply
Flag
Wasn't as "laugh out loud" as some past episodes have been, but I still enjoyed it none-the-less. And I agree, Troy won the award for best of the episode. :)
Reply
Flag
I agree with this article in that my two favorite points of the episode were the direct jabs at the mockumentary style: "easier to tell a complex story... people explaining things to the camera" and "...series of random shots..." As one of the many people who complains about Pierce almost every episode, I didn't mind his nuisance as much here -- maybe it was just because he was in a hospital bed and actually looked vulnerable.
Reply
Flag
Completely pointless article.
Reply
Flag
Interesting take. The documentary format didn't bother me, except that I missed seeing much of Abed. I would have been disappointed if they explained away Pierce's behavior as only caused by the pain pills. There's clearly something deeper at work. The gang has already started to forgive him. Annie "learned" something from him, and Jeff spent the night in his hospital room. Even after the horrible way Pierce treated him. Troy's singing/crying scene was amazing. One of the best of the series. "Set phasers to love me." Still, I wouldn't put this episode at the top of my favorite list. But it wouldn't be at the bottom either.
Reply
Flag
I loved every minute of it! The camera style was different but the wit was just as sharp and the jokes just as great. Plus Donald Glover never fails to make me laugh hysterically.
Reply
Flag
What a fun episode, hope this gets picked up for another season. Every episode is something different. It really is like a real-life Simpsons.
Reply
Flag
Glover was awesome in last nights ep. It wasn't my favorite episode but not bad either.
Reply
Flag
Great episode, loved the Firefly mention too lol!
Reply
Flag
i rather enjoyed it, especially jeff and britta's argument. Funny stuff!
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook