Community Review: Hook, Line, and Winger

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What happens to a Chang deferred?

Well, if "Advanced Documentary Filmmaking" is any indication, he gets forgiven by the Greendale Seven, takes a job at the sandwich shop and becomes the subject of a clever, meta-mockumentary, in one of the best episodes of Community Season 4 so far.

Chang's Amnesia

Amnesia, like true love or Three Penis Wine, is a topic that has been explored in art for as long as art has existed, and so, it is tough to put a fresh spin on it--greater minds than I have certainly tried and failed (Dana Carvey, I'm looking in your direction).

But "Advanced Documentary Filmmaking" succeeded precisely because amnesia, and faux documentary, is such well-worn territory. When your viewers have all the beats memorized (like the amnesiac not recognizing his former wife, or the documentary crew discovering a hidden scandal), you can find new energy in mixing and matching them--as well as subverting them, which this episode did ably.

So why is everyone so danged eager to forgive "Kevin" for the sins of the Chang? The episode's poker-faced examination of the winsome and random nature of "changnesia," as well as about half of the episode's snappiest Community quotes, and  Jeff's assumption of the "crusader unearthing the truth" role (the Erin Brockovich of Changnesia?), make it clear that no one at Greendale actually believes in "changnesia" (except, you know, Troy, probably).

But the community's eager rush to absolve their old nemesis makes a good point about the nature of memory.

Is Chang an amnesiac? Of course not. That was obvious from the end of Community Season 3. But we'd all like an excuse to forget, sometimes. And since Chang is the living embodiment of every bad impulse and horrible idea that has ever crossed our collective brain pans, it's no wonder that the gang has rallied around his "changnesia" (presumably, to their own future detriment).

While many of this season's episodes (even the good ones) have unrolled a bit sluggishly, this one had pep--which in no small part was derived from the tension between the documentary format and Abed's inner life (which is definitely scripted, and possibly on premium cable).

His early-in-the-episode exchange with Jeff provided a snapshot of all the layers being dealt with here: a documentary that isn't exactly a real documentary, about a case of amnesia that definitely isn't actually a real case of amnesia. Even his ending-of-the-episode-within-the-ending-of-an-episode asked us to re-think where beginnings really begin, where endings really end, and what the truth is, anyway.

No, I'm not high, I just really enjoyed this episode, okay?

(also, "Britta Perry: Basically a Therapist" was a title card worth waiting three-plus seasons for, for sure)

What nefarious plans do you think Chang-Kevin has for the gang? What will the gang do when they realize they've all been tricked? Do you think Shirley's sandwich shop is turning a profit yet?

Advanced Documentary Filmmaking Review

Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (57 Votes)
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Community Season 4 Episode 6 Quotes

Thank you, Pierce Hawthorne, for your special blend of playful racial humor and genuine thoughts on Geraldine Ferraro.

Dean Pelton

I first met Chang when I hired him as a Spanish teacher at Greendale. Then he became a disgraced student, a psychopathic music major, a homeless vent dweller, a security guard, keytarist, power-hungry war lord, and, now, Kevin. It's sad to see him like this. Well, it's mixed. He was pretty terrible before.

Dean Pelton