As Abed himself says right at the beginning of the “Community” episode, “Advanced Advanced Dungeons and Dragons,” it’s hard to create a worthy follow-up to greatness. And like so many sequels before it, “Advanced Advanced Dungeons and Dragons” fails to capture the excitement and heart of the original.

What brings out the dice this time?

Professor Hickey is grouchy (more so than usual) because his son, Hank, hasn’t invited him to his grandson’s birthday. It seems that there is bad blood between these two, mostly because they just don’t get each other.

But when Hickey mentions that Hank likes to play Dungeons & Dragons, the study group knows it’s time to spring into action. After all, didn’t they save Fat Neil from suicide with the first game? Or is that up for debate?

Whatever the case, Hank (played by “Arrested Development” actor David Cross) agrees to hang out at Annie and Abed’s apartment for a game. Unfortunately for any happy-reunion scheming, Hank is a bit of a D&D expert. He quickly switches identities and plunges the players into chaos that forces a separation between father and son.

Instead of leaving as one might expect, Hickey elects to stay and starts a wager on the game’s outcome. If he — as Tiny Nuggets — reaches the Dark Necromancer first, then he gets invited to the grandkid’s birthday. But if Hank — playing as Tristram Steelheart — wins, then Hickey isn’t allowed at any family gatherings.

This really isn’t the happiest of games.

What rhymes with ‘not there’ anyway?

Slowly, the rest of the players succumb to inevitable and occasionally comical deaths. Crouton (Shirley) goes first, followed by Joseph Gordon Diehard (Dean Pelton), impaled on his father’s — Jeff’s Riggs Diehard — sword. Once Hector the Well-Endowed (Annie), Fibrosis (Britta) and Dingleberry (Chang) are gone, it’s just father and son in an increasingly tense finish.

But neither man will end the game. As everyone except Dungeon Master Abed leaves, Hickey and Hank continue arguing about potions and sharing into the night.

Is the relationship healed? Um … “Community” doesn’t really give an answer to that one. Maybe? They at least have a shared activity in which to annoy one another now.

A sequel is a sequel is a sequel

Even on a self-aware show like “Community,” a sequel is still a sequel. And “Advanced Advanced Dungeons and Dragons” really is a slightly less edgy version of the original “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.”

The thing is, in the first episode, Fat Neil’s life wasn’t really the emotional journey that was at stake — it was Pierce and his growing feeling of separation from the group. When Pierce mastered the game-play, he used that knowledge to become the ultimate villain and to get his revenge on those he felt had wronged him.

It became powerful because Pierce only managed to further alienate everyone who might have wanted to give him another chance.

With “Advanced Advanced Dungeons and Dragons,” only one relationship is at stake, and it’s a relationship the audience never knew existed before the episode aired. Hank Hickey isn’t someone “Community” audiences need to care about. He is gone after this one episode, probably never to return. His nebulous issues with a father (who we are also just getting to meet) aren’t going to matter next week.

At least Fat Neil keeps coming back.

“Community” airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.

Posted by:Laurel Brown