NBC’s ‘Community’ season 4, episode 4 review: World War Greendale

CommunityYou know that you are in the midst of a “Community” slump when Leonard has a line that is begging for people to tell him to “shut up” … and then no one else does. The writers and the actors on this show are all trying, so we don’t want to sit here and say that anyone has gotten particularly lazy. There’s just something missing: the spark, the fire, or the tone that was present back when Dan Harmon, Starburns, and a few other selected members of the staff were still around.

You could see the effort put here in by having the Germans from season 3 return this episode as Jeff and study group faced what was actually a dilemma that they really should have tackled long ago: that over the years, they have hogged the study room so much that the school resents them for it. There were some nice callbacks to the bottle episode and the Dungeons & Dragons game thrown in here, and getting a Jeff Winger speech about how the room made them feel like a family felt natural. It was the right amount of sweetness that you expect from this show, but not too much that you venture into wanting-to-vomit territory.

Unfortunately, the show went and pushed the sentimental button again a few minutes later with a whole bit on “giving back” … and now we have to clean up our office. The Germans were never the best villains to begin with, and the producers seemed to miss the fact that the reason the characters were used last time was to more further the relationship between Jeff and Shirley. They’re just not funny, and none of the scenes involving them were therefore worth much of a chuckle, either.

The only other storyline this week was not really much better, since it continued to push forward the idea that Chang no longer remember who he is, and that Dean Pelton was going to rehabilitate him in an effort to get good PR for the school. Once again, the idea was fine, but there just wasn’t any substance to the execution. Chang felt very flat in this new form, whereas all we really got out of the Dean was funny costumes and Dalmatians (as though this is all he is about).

We’re already so invested in this show that we want to see how it ends, but after a brief tick upward for an episode with at least a few good moments last week, it feels almost like we are sinking straight back underground again with this one.

What did you think about this episode? Be sure to share some more of your thoughts below, and you can watch a clip from this episode over at the link here.

Photo: NBC

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