Jun 6, 2015

Posted by in Ramblings

#Six Seasons – Part IV

#Six Seasons – Part IV
All 110 episodes of Community ranked

In which I continue ranking, according to my own analysis, every single episode of Community. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments, on Reddit, Twitter wherever.

Standard disclaimer

Obviously this list is fairly SPOILER HEAVY but then if you’re reading this I’m gonna assume it’s because you’re also a fan who’s seen every episode.  And also, please note UK readers, since it’s a US show I’m going to be using seasons to define series and series to define the whole show.  Deal with it.  Finally, obviously, all pictures or screengrabs are owned by Sony or NBC or Yahoo or all of them or one of them.  Oh, and also for numbering purposes I’m using the broadcast order even though some were broadcast out of order. Also as I said in the first post this ranking is basically ranking from good to perfect, not worst to best as the worst episode of Community is likely better than the best episode of most other comedies.  And it goes without saying it’s all subjective so please feel free to disagree in the comments etc.

80. Introduction to Teaching (S5 E2) Written by Andy Bobrow, Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar

s5e2After repiloting in the episode before there was a lot of pressure on this episode to instantly be ‘the old Community’.  Well it was never going to be and the second it wasn’t I feel a lot of people made the instant decision to hate everything that wasn’t seasons 1-3.  It’s not an absolute classic but it’s certainly better than a good chunk of the previous seasons.  Jeff has had to move on for so many reasons.  Story wise, character wise, logic wise, so obviously things are going to be different.  With Pierce gone and Troy going you need to add a new regular character, in this case Hickey, and that takes some time to set up.  So while that’s going on, which can feel a little laboured at points by it’s own very nature, it’s balanced out nicely with the Nicholas Cage stuff which is flat out nuts.  That said, Shirley and Abed’s little interchange about it is lovely and one of the few times the two get to truly bond.  Also, the Dean dressing up Jeff in his teacher’s garb in a one shot is lovely, as is just how happily and easily Greendale will descend into a riot.  It’s like everyone’s just always looking for an excuse.  Oh, and this, I think, is the beginning of the season 5 and 6 trend of dark as fuck tags of which I have zero complaints.

Top line – “THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING THIS! Oh, wait, I’m out of data minutes.  THE WHOLE WORLD WILL BE WATCHING THIS ON THE FIRST OF NEXT MONTH!” – Britta

79. Modern Espionage (S6 E11) Written by Mark Steggeman, Directed by Rob Schrab

s6e11Ok, right, I image this is probably the second one in this ranking that people are going to be furious about and tell me I’m an insane arsehole who lacks credibility and should be strung up from a pole whilst being poked with javelins because what is the internet for if not the mass transferal of information and massively overreacting? When this episode aired most people online went bananas and said it was the best episode of the season and it felt like old Community and so on and so forth.  Well, sort of, kind of, but so what?  Paintball is part of Greendale’s history, that much is true, and it made sense for Frankie to address that but the way it all kicked off again just felt so pointless to me.  Not unlike Advanced Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.  City College and the janitors.  Really?  And when Abed defends it as being a homage not a spoof it was the first episode since season 4 in which I actively groaned.  I’d been really, really enjoying the more grounded aspects of season 6 as these characters had began to grow while the show itself still maintained the spirit of what Community was about which, to me and part of the reason I adore it so much, was always so much more than doing concept episodes as great as many of those have been.  It’s weird.  When they weren’t doing concept episodes everyone bitched that it wasn’t the old Community.  Then when they did they copped it in the neck for it.  People are weird.  Anyway, the only reason I ranked this episode so high, yes so high, is largely down to Schrab’s direction.  The episode looks, and feels, fantastic. The Dean in the lift and the janitor’s museum particularly.  It’s just the story itself is a bit too contrived for mine.  And Frankie’s wrap up even more so.  The jokes, by themselves, work well and I loved the Vicki and Garret stuff though, especially Garrett’s line at the end, which is clearly just Harmon, saying, “Then again, we did put a fair share of work into this.  You don’t have to be dicks”.  Bang on.  

There’s reviewing, there’s critiquing, there’s discussing what you did and didn’t like about something like an adult with a differing opinion.  Or there’s booing and just calling something shit on Reddit then calling anyone who disagrees a cock.  That’s one of the thing’s that’s so strong about Community.  There’s so much variation in the style of each episode whilst it still feels part of the same show, thus meaning that even amongst the biggest fans of the show there can be true disagreement about what the best episodes are.  Demonstrated perfectly by this one.  Didn’t click for me.  Oh, also, while I remember, and it’s probably only me being an editor, but the VFX in this episode was really noticeable and off compared to previous paintball episodes.

Top line – “Shoppers, there’s a sale on partying in my pants aisle.  Everything in my pants must go. Well, not everything, that doesn’t… you know what I…” – Koogler

78. Basic Sandwich (S5 E13) Written by Ryan Ridley, Directed by Rob Schrab

s5e13There’s a moment on the DVD commentary for this episode where Dan Harmon says how lots of fans asked him on Twitter why he fucked up the season finale.  He explains it’s the Dungeons and Dragons episode’s fault and also it appeared that they were going to get three more S5 episodes, and then didn’t.  It seems a lot of justification for an episode that, whilst not a brilliant season, and possible series finale, was at least a decent episode paying tribute to The Goonies and such.  Basic Story was a nice set up and most people rate it the better episode than the actual finale, but I have them the other way round and much closer together.  To me, the joke here is that the only thing that could possibly save Community from ending at this point is something as ridiculous as buried treasure guarded by an emotional robot programmed by a drug fuelled Chris Elliot.  But then it let itself get saved anyway.  For what purpose though, we’re never really sure other than, yay, we saved Greendale.  There doesn’t seem to much at stake for the school itself.  Obviously there’s a lot at stake with the group stuck in the bunker but, this being TV and Community being as meta as it is, obviously they’d be getting out. And within that it retread some old rhythms the show is sometimes guilty of falling into.  Namely being a little too over romantic about, well, romance for one thing.  Jeff and Britta’s hastily planned marriage last week worked as a comment, this week Jeff’s look to Annie seemed more like fan service than actually digging into anything.  Yet outside of the main story there was gold to be had. Abed’s explanation of spin offs to Annie was a well pitched bit of Community meta, Duncan’s electrocution, hang gliders and that nail in the coffin of NBC tag.  If it weren’t a finale, you’d probably rate it higher.

Top line – “Was there a hang glider?” – Richie 

77. Celebrity Pharmacology (S2 E13) Written by Hilary Winston, Directed by Fred Goss

s2e13A welcome Pierce based episode where he’s not just a racist old dude.  As the study group have to put on a drug awareness show for at risk teens, Pierce takes over the show.  Annie is directing and he’s given her a substantial cheque to help with the rent meaning he expects a bigger part in the show.  In some senses, it’s a classic dick move by Pierce but there’s more to it than that we which we get into a little with a nice little interchange between he and Annie towards the end.  It’s also a rare episode where the A, B and C story all revolve on the same event.  Chang and Shirley are still having issues surrounding her pregnancy (which gives us a lovely little Shirley apology at the end) and Jeff’s been sending lewd texts from Britta’s phone to her younger relative, yet it all still exists within the framework of the drugs show.  A show that, quite frankly, I wish I’d seen when I was in primary school.  It’s a disaster, but a very funny one, especially the Dean’s improv section.

Top line – “Because that’s not what Drugs does baby! I’m gonna deep fry your dog and eat your momma’s face. And I’m going to wear your little brother’s skin like pajamas!” – Chang

76. App Development and Condiments (S5 E8) Written by Jordan Blum & Parkey Deay, Directed by Rob Scrab

mewomewoThis is an episode that whilst I didn’t love I absolutely love that it existed.  That five seasons in, with the threat of cancelation hanging ever lower, Dan Harmon and co made this episode.  They made a Logan’s Run dystopian show based off of an app called Meowmeowbeenz in which the savour is a Che Guevara-esque figure except with mustard on her face. Also the guy that created Arrested Development is going to be in it as basically an extra from Animal House.  And they make a comment on class divide and social labels.  I remember reading an interview somewhere with Joel McHale where he said, imagine just giving someone a copy of the pilot to watch, and then this episode, and trying to convince them it’s the same show.  A lot of the episode is hilarious, a lot of it doesn’t work, but I flat out love that it exists.  That they are still willing to try anything, try something new, push the boundaries and be damned if you do or don’t like it, we’re making it anyway.  I think the attitude that’s clearly present in making this episode is part of the reason why I find eps like Modern Espionage a bit of a let down.  This, in a weird way is Community at it’s best and worst at the same time.

Top line – “It comes down?” – Koogler

75. Basic Email Security (S6 E6) Written by Matt Roller, Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar

s6e6Greendale’s emails are hacked and leaked as a protest for an upcoming gig at the school.  Credit to the writer’s for tackling the Sony hacking scandal when Sony are the people paying their bills, first and foremost.  But this was the first episode of season six where, as I watching it, I thought, ‘This could do with a trim’.  It’s a nice idea, and it’s always good to see the group at loggerheads with each other forgetting that that might actually impact people that aren’t themselves, but during the scene in which they all went at each other as they set up the controversial comic’s gig, I found myself checking my phone. Something I never do when watching a show I love.  It just started to drag.  There weren’t 28 minutes of episode in this one.  One of only two, along with Intro to Recycled Cinema, this latest season that I thought was hurt by the extra runtime.  And watching it back you can almost see the bits that they would’ve cut if it had to fit into 21 minutes.  As an episode it was covering old ground in many respects, other than injecting Frankie and Elroy which really did add to it, especially as the two of them uncover more of the group’s back story, but that also made the flab was more noticeable to me.  But it serves as a solid reminder of the strength of Community in that I laughed a lot.  I enjoyed it a lot.   The setup, the cops, the True Detective tag.  And at the end I still put it in the bottom half of this list.

Top line – “Hey, silver and gold ladies, ain’t no losers there” – Chang

74. English as a Second Language (S1 E24) Written by Tim Hobert, Directed by Gail Mancuso

s1e24It’s now, after 110 episodes, an established trope that the study group need each other.  They’re borderline codependent (as Frankie will later point out) and this episode provides the first solid look at that as Annie gets Chang fired in an attempt to have the class have to repeat Spanish together.  They don’t have to as it turns out thanks to Pierce’s bribes, but here is where we have the verbalisation that they are more than a study group, they’re friends.  And they have to be, because otherwise there is no show moving forward really is there?  Well, S5 and S6 proved there can be, but that’s by the by at this point.  It’s also the first indication that Troy is a naturally gifted plumber, something that will form a major arc of S3. It’s a solid episode for setting up further adventures though it’s only real highlight is Jeff’s takedown of Annie in the study room if I’m being honest.

Top line – “Who cares if you’re sorry!?  We’re still screwed.  Be sorry about this stuff before you do it.  And then don’t do it!” – Jeff

73. Intro to Felt Surrogacy (S4 E9) Written by Gene Hong, Directed by Tristram Shapeero

puppetWhen it was announced that season 4 was going to have a puppet episode there was a lot of mixed mumbling.  Either it’d be brilliant or awful.  It was the sort of big concept episode that only Harmon could pull off wasn’t it?  Well, yes, sort of.  I mean, it was good, just not as good as one might hope or expect from a puppet episode of Community.  Firstly, the puppets voices sounded like they’d recorded the actors in a closet but maybe that’s by the by.  The major problem was it tried to get by on the novelty and the good will of the frankly excellent puppets alone.  With Harmon’s concept episodes the story fed the concept, not the other way around.  When the concept is all there really is, then what’s the point of the story you’re telling?  As it turns out in this episode, not a lot.  And yet, for all of that, it was still kinda fun.  It was nice to have Pierce back, the songs were ok, Troy asking where Duncan had got to was enjoyable, and it ended with another nice group bonding session.  Also, I love puppets.  I do.  So that’s greatly biased my opinion here.  If this was some sort of impossibly objective less, it’d probably be a lot lower.  But as it is, it’d have to have been a pile of shit for me to hate it.  It wasn’t that.  The end tag though, with the real life cast playing with their puppets and ending with a group photo was probably the most out of place, cringeworthy moment of all 110 episodes.  That is what DVD special features are for.

Top line – “The level to which we respect you as a political activist has definitely not changed”. – Jeff

72. Paranormal Parentage (S4 E2) Written by Megan Ganz, Directed by Tristram Shapeero

s4e2This feels like the sort of episode that if Harmon had’ve been involved it would’ve been an all time classic.  It’s still a pretty damn good episode that gets absolutely slated because it’s cooler than cool to hate everything about season 4 until you’re blue in the face. But there’s a lot to like about this episode.  Megan Ganz’s script is smart, funny and adds a little character development to a few people as well and it really feels like it’s just a McKenna or Harmon tweak from being great.  That said, unchanged, if this was a Harmon episode people would probably like it a lot better just out of spite or hero worship.  And that this was the season’s second episode, again, gave me a lot of hope for what was to came.  Sadly, it dropped off. But to sit there, with a straight face and say this was a terrible episode, a bottom 20 episode of Community, I honestly can’t see how you could do that.  Some stuff doesn’t land, but the stuff that does is on point.  Annie’s Ring girl, Pierce’s password, the end tag, the tying up of whatever happened to Gilbert and it was, at points, good at creating that creepy vibe of those sort of haunted house films thanks to some, as usual, great Shapeero direction.

Top line – “We do some things.  We do a lot of things.  Not all the things.  Things”. – Troy

71. Introduction to Finality (S3 E22) Written by Steve Basilone & Annie Mebane, Directed by Tristram Shapeero

s3e22After the madness of dealing with Chang taking over the school things kind of peter out a bit here.  There’s still a few things to be addressed of course, and the episode is still damn funny, but given there was a real chance, more than at the end of 1 or 2, that this would be a series finale as well it falls a bit flat, offering too many sort of pleading cliffhangers at the end with Jeff looking up his family, the return of Starburns and so on.  While Pierce, Shirley and Jeff in court is strong, especially as some growth for Pierce, the parallel bit with Evil Abed doesn’t work for me, funny as it is at times, it’s all a bit much.  That he would go as far as he did isn’t a man lost in his own fantasy world, it’s severe mental illness that is dismissed far too easily narratively.  Still, Troy’s final battle with the air conditioner school though is fantastic and has a proper end of season feel to it.

Top line – “No! No. Take him to the police. He murdered someone. Take him to jail. You guys are weird”. – Troy

Righto, more tomorrow lads and lasses.

Jump to 110-101 * Jump to 100-91 * Jump to 90-81 * Jump to 80-71 * Jump to 70-61 * Jump to 60-51 * Jump to 50 -41 * Jump to 40-31Jump to 30-26 * Jump to 25-21 * Jump to 20-16 * Jump to 15-11 * Jump to 10-6 * Jump to 5-1 * Wrap Up

  1. The end tag of the puppet episode was changed for air (as with the previous episode). The DVD/’official’ end tag is the Daybreak song.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. #SixSeasons – Part II | Trunk Talk - […] Jump to 110-101 * Jump to 90-81 *  Jump to 80-71 […]
  2. #SixSeasons – Part I | Trunk Talk - […] Jump to 110-101 * Jump to 90-81 *  Jump to 80-71 […]
  3. #SixSeasons – Part III | Trunk Talk - […] to 110-101 * Jump to 100-91 * Jump to 80-71 * Jump to […]
  4. #SixSeasons – Part V | Trunk Talk - […] to 110-101 * Jump to 100-91 * Jump to 90-81 * Jump to 80-71 * Jump to 60-51 * Jump to […]
  5. #SixSeasons – Part VII | Trunk Talk - […] to 110-101 * Jump to 100-91 * Jump to 90-81 * Jump to 80-71 * Jump to 70-61 * Jump to 60-51 * Jump to […]
  6. #SixSeasons – Part VIII | Trunk Talk - […] to 110-101 * Jump to 100-91 * Jump to 90-81 * Jump to 80-71 * Jump to 70-61 * Jump to […]
  7. #SixSeasons – Part IX | Trunk Talk - […] to 110-101 * Jump to 100-91 * Jump to 90-81 * Jump to 80-71 * Jump to 70-61 * Jump to 60-51 * Jump to 50…
  8. #SixSeasons – Part XI | Trunk Talk - […] to 110-101 * Jump to 100-91 * Jump to 90-81 * Jump to 80-71 * Jump to 70-61 * Jump to 60-51 * Jump to 50…
  9. #SixSeasons – Part X | Trunk Talk - […] to 110-101 * Jump to 100-91 * Jump to 90-81 * Jump to 80-71 * Jump to 70-61 * Jump to 60-51 * Jump to 50…
  10. #SixSeasons – Part XII | Trunk Talk - […] to 110-101 * Jump to 100-91 * Jump to 90-81 * Jump to 80-71 * Jump to 70-61 * Jump to 60-51 * Jump to 50…
  11. #SixSeasons – Part XIII | Trunk Talk - […] to 110-101 * Jump to 100-91 * Jump to 90-81 * Jump to 80-71 * Jump to 70-61 * Jump to 60-51 * Jump to 50…
  12. #SixSeasons – Part XIV | Trunk Talk - […] to 110-101 * Jump to 100-91 * Jump to 90-81 * Jump to 80-71 * Jump to 70-61 * Jump to 60-51 * Jump to 50…

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