Community Season 4 Review “Alternative History of the German Invasion”

After Community has spent two episodes away from Greendale in the past few weeks, we finally return to the hallowed campus with tonight’s installment “Alternative History of the German Invasion”. While the episode might not have been very funny by Community standards, it was still so great to see the group all in one place with all of the Greendale supporting characters making their grand return.

The main conflict of the episode centered around the German guys returning to steal the study group’s room. We haven’t seen these guys since season three’s “Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism”, but it looks like Nick Kroll’s character Juergen was replaced by his brother. Unfortunately, his brother is even more irritating of a German stereotype. I didn’t find these guys very funny last season, and not much has changed here.

I thought that perhaps the new history professor played by Malcolm MacDowell, Professor Cornwallis, would have played a little more into this conflict. Unfortunately, he really wasn’t a factor. He just shows up at the end to comment on how ridiculous and self-centered the study group is, but that was really the only humorous thing his character did all night.

My favorite part of the episode was definitely witnessing the return of all of the supporting characters. Seeing the likes of Leonard, Vicki, and Todd return to confront the study group was really funny, but I especially liked the little look back at the previous episodes. We got a little glimpse at season two’s bottle episode “Cooperative Calligraphy”, as well as season two’s “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons”, but we got to see them from outside the study room! It’s a little bit of a downer for them to be referencing earlier, and arguably funnier, seasons. For me it throws into sharp focus just how much funnier those two episodes were then what we’re getting now.

Speaking of unfunny, how about those Dean and Chang scenes? Yeesh. To be fair, I’ve never been a big fan of Chang’s character. I’ve been up and down on the Dean’s character as well, but I really feel like both of these guys have become way too cartoonish. Their characters are so goofy, and they kind of need a Jeff Winger-esque character that can play the straight man and bring them down to Earth. If you just have two crazy guys playing off each other it just comes off as white noise.

I’m not declaring Community dead quite yet, nor am I saying it’s “Jumped the shark” quite yet. Many other Community fans are saying this, however, so I’m really hoping that the next few episodes will find their own voice instead of trying to make the show feel like the “Old Community“.

Random Thoughts:

– Yikes, an Arizona “Papers please” joke? Was this episode written in 2010?

– One of my favorite visuals all night was the German guy motorboating the luftballoons in the background.

– Jeff’s speech about Hogan’s Heroes really made me realize something: Hogan’s Heroes was a real TV show that aired in this country! Not only that, but it was a big hit! Could you imagine a show like that airing in 2013? People would freak out!