Community Mocks Mockumentaries

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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 writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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