Review: ‘Community’ – ‘An Alternative History of the German Invasion’

Senior Television Writer
02.28.13 138 Comments


A quick review of tonight’s “Community” coming up just as soon as I take a provisional Lactaid…

“An Alternative History of the German Invasion” was, as you can probably tell from the stories (the first day of classes, an immediate follow-up to the “Changnesia” gag from the premiere), designed and produced as the season’s second episode, but held until now. Sometimes, episodes air out of order because they require extra time to complete (“Remedial Chaos Theory,” the video game episode), while other times, they get held because someone (the producers, the network, or both) fear that it’s not working and want to air stronger episodes ahead of it.

This definitely seems like an example of the latter. I haven’t been crazy about any of this season’s previous episodes for various reasons, but I’ve at least laughed at them in spots. This one, though, barely elicited a few minor chuckles, and featured several jokes (notably the study group’s simultaneous scream at the presence of Chang) that simply made me cringe.

There have been unfunny episodes of “Community” before, but most of the time they work on some level either because they’re doing something structurally interesting, because they’re going deeper into the emotional lives of the characters, or both. (“Mixology Certification” is a fine example of this, and even that had more overt laughs.) This, though, was a pretty basic campus hijinks episode, which meant that if I wasn’t laughing at the many German jokes (which felt like taking a minor but amusing element from the foosball episode and leaning much too heavily on it), at Pierce electrocuting himself, etc., there was nothing left to lean on. Even the attempts to show how the study group have been historically evil didn’t entirely work, because they’re only occasionally that selfish. (As Todd VanDerWerff notes in his review, using the D&D episode – which was explicitly about the group trying to help out another student – as an example of them being jerks rang very false.)

Again, this was the second episode made by this creative team, and a good chunk of it had to be spent on cleaning up the mess they were handed in terms of Chang. Hopefully things will improve as the season moves along. But this was just a bad episode of “Community.”

What did everybody else think?

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