Well, that just wasn't funny at all.
Sometimes, Community aims for concept over humor. From the perpetually-cited paintball episode to "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking" and many others in between, this is a show that packs more gags and references into a single half hour than I ever imagined was possible. Not all hit the mark, but the effort is astounding.
Still, the number-one goal should always be to make viewers laugh. And "Critical Film Studies" failed miserably in that regard.
Overall, I've come to embrace the zaniness of Dan Harmon and company. I have no clue what to expect every week from Community and even when I'm not laughing out loud, I'm marveling at the rich characters of this series, their development and the attempts by writers to be truly original on a weekly basis.
Typically, though, there seems to be an awareness on their part that this is still a sitcom. Jokes are are of the utmost importance. Somewhere between Abed's lengthy speech about his Cougar Town set visit (Jeff's reference to that stupid title was by far the funniest line of the episode, and it was incredible they donated such a chunk of the episode to another network) and Troy destroying the supposedly authentic suitcase, I realized:
There's scarcely an attempt being made here to make me chuckle.Lack of humor aside, there was nothing subtle about the episode, either. Community has mastered its grip on its characters so impressively that it can take a game such as Dungeons & Dragons, have these individuals role play and still nail traits, within such an imaginary world, as Britta's self-righteousness. That was very cool to watch.
But there was a lot of showing and very little telling in Jeff and Abed's exchanges. They just made obvious statements about their lots in life: Jeff is scared people only like him for his looks, Abed knows he's just like any number of fictitious robots... Should I feel like I know these two people better now? Should I be moved by Jeff's openness or Abed's gesture to rekindle their friendship?
I really wasn't. For the first time that I can ever remember with Community, I was just hoping the episode would end.