"Advanced Documentary Filmmaking" marked the 5th time in six episodes that Community has devolved into some sort of gimmick or parody. So why was Dan Harmon fired again? What did you want with the show, NBC? If you wanted a more traditional sitcom, this season is the complete opposite. Not only is it as inaccessible as ever, but also Community’s Nielsen ratings have remained just as low. At least with Harmon the show would have been new and fresh each week.

Community parodies and other non-traditional sitcom scenarios, like last season's Law & Order episode, used to excite me. What a difference a year makes. When I saw that last night’s episode was going to be in documentary format, my pent-up frustration from this season’s constant stream of gimmick shows finally blew over and I reacted the same way Jeff (Joel McHale) did to Abed’s (Danny Pudi) latest documentary – “Are you f*&@ing kidding me.”

There was nothing new or innovative to see in last night’s episode. "Advanced Documentary Filmmaking," as the name inferred, was filmed in documentary style. Abed was instructed by the Dean (Jim Rash) to film a documentary exploring the former Ben Chang’s (Ken Jeong) “Changnesia” to help Greendale receive a $40,000 grant from the MacGuffin Neurological Institute. The institute was cleverly named for the MacGuffin plot device, which is an element in a story that can be interchangeable and has no purpose but to give a reason for the plot to exist. It was interesting to see the Macguffin joke since the documentary format of the episode seemed to be one itself. It felt like it existed solely to cater to the core fans in order to alleviate insecurities of the loss of Dan Harmon.

Last night’s episode contained more of the same recycled gags that have plagued season four. Jeff doles out assignments to his study group members with an ulterior motive in mind. Sound familiar? In "Investigative Journalism," he did the same as editor of the Greendale Gazette where Abed lovingly compared him to Hawkeye from M*A*S*H. Troy (Donald Glover) and Annie (Alison Brie) were paired together in yet another buddy cop parody.


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In the past there was a purpose for using the documentary format. In "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking," Community mocked its use in television as an easy and cheap way to tell a story. And in "Documentary Filmmaking: Redux," the show used the narrative style to celebrate Hearts of Darkness, A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, the documentary about the production of Apocalypse Now.

Community has delivered spectacular “special” episodes in its time. There were the paintball episodes, Dungeons & Dragons, and a show filmed completely in 8-bit. But really, there weren't that many of them, and their novelty made them fun to watch. Now, there is nothing special about these episodes, with one coming out every week. If it wasn’t for the “Rent Momento” etched in Chang’s arm or his “Why did I do that line,” I’m not sure I would have laughed during the entire episode. In "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design," Annie says to the Dean, “When you conspire with everyone you come across, you’re not really conspiring with anyone. You’re just doing random crap.” You could say the same about resorting to spoofing in every episode.

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