'Community': Nathan Fillion, Katie Leclerc and more aren't enough to replace Troy

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"Community" has lost Troy Barnes, and not even a parade of high-end guest stars can fill the man's empty seat at the study-room table.

It's too bad, because bringing in actors like Nathan Fillion, Katie Leclerc, Robert Patrick, Paget Brewster and more should have made "Analysis of Cork-Based Networking" one of the best "Community" episodes ever. As it is, the whole thing falls a bit flat.

Guest stars, guest stars and more guest stars!

The many guest actors on this installment of "Community" mainly people the various departments Annie and Professor Hickey must navigate in order to get a bulletin board hung in the cafeteria.

Yes, this simple task is strangled by endless red tape and a corrupt system that runs throughout Greendale. Here's how it works:

In order to hang a bulletin board, the custodians need a work order. The custodians -- led by characters played by Fillion and Kumail Nanjiani -- won't file the work order until someone removes the firewall from their computers. This is because the custodians want to look at porn.

Removing the firewall means the cooperation of the IT department. This would be Brewster, an otherwise clueless woman who jumps at the chance to get a parking spot more befitting of her station (and far away from the lunch ladies).

Parking is in the hands of Patrick, a draconian dictator with a vendetta against carpools. He wants to retain parking power and therefore needs to control what gets posted on bulletin boards. No parking spaces will change until that privilege is handed over by the Dean.

Of course, Dean Pelton would totally do this, but Hickey gets angry and Sorkins the whole thing. It takes an act of selfless bulletin-board hanging by the Professor (and a feral attack by Annie) to get that original board back in the cafeteria.

Meanwhile in the B-plot

Most of the rest of the group gets tasked with planning and decorating for a midterm dance. They initially make the mistake of listening to Chang on the theme, which leads to a "Bear Down for Midterms" decorating scheme. This would be merely weird if not for a recent news event in which a bear destroyed a child's birthday party.

They go for a "Fat Dog" theme instead. That one is just weird.

There's also a Fat Dog dance. Probably this derives from all of those '80s and '90s teen films in which perfectly choreographed routines happen "spontaneously" in the dance scenes.

Move over, "Inspector Spacetime" -- it's time for "Bloodlines of Conquest"

Abed has a new obsession, an HBO series called "Bloodlines of Conquest." This is an epic fantasy based on a book series and is only not "Game of Thrones" because that would involve copyright infringement.

Because of a random and petty argument, Britta wants to spoil the series ending by telling Abed what happens in the books. He counters this with headphones that render him deaf. In a cute twist, the faux-deafness lead Abed to an actual hearing-impaired student (played by Leclerc).

The two share many cheerful conversations about detonating mollusks and sandals before Abed learns enough sign language to really understand. At this point, the new friend signs the whole ending to "Bloodlines of Conquest."

This whole plot has been orchestrated by Britta. Why is Britta being so mean? "Community" doesn't really give us an answer for that. But at least Abed gets the chance to reconnect with his coat-check girl friend (played by Brie Larson) from Season 4 (aka, the gas-leak year).

"Community" airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.

Photo/Video credit: NBC