Jun 4, 2015

Posted by in Ramblings

#SixSeasons – Part II

#SixSeasons – Part II
All 110 episodes of Community ranked

In which I continue ranking, according to my own analysis, every single episode of Community. The bottom ten has already proved controversial on a few forums and such.

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.

100. Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy (S2 E18) Written by Andy Bobrow, Directed by Anthony Russo

s218With it becoming increasingly possibly, nay likely, that Chang is the father of Shirley’s baby he decides he needs to clean up his act and become a responsible adult.  This obviously therefore involves kidnapping some random children and buying a smoking pipe.  Because it’s Chang. It’s an episode, and storyline, where Malcom-Jamal Warner and Yvette Nicole Brown get to shine acting wise that much is clear.  Elsewhere the B story involving Troy, Abed, Britta and their new war criminal friend falls a bit flat even it does offer another area of ‘Britta-ing’ things even if it doesn’t really have a name yet.  It’s also an odd episode in that certain characters barely appear. Outside of the cold open and the tag, there’s no sign of the Dean or Annie.

Top line – “Britta.  There’s a difference between telling us a guy likes nipple play and telling us a guy makes hats out of babies”. – Troy

99. Course Listing Unavailable (S3 18) Written by Tim Saccardo, Directed by Tristram Shapeero

s3e18There really is a lot to like about this episode.  But.  Greendale’s quick disposition to another riot is amusing, Abed’s Starburns tribute video is a wonderful thing and the callbacks to the ‘darkest timeline’ via the pizza guy is nicely done.  It’s also interesting that they’ve taken the group out of Greendale to see how they might work as friends, out of that setting.  It’s something that would’ve been interesting to see play out at any rate.  But there was an odd balancing act going on in Course Listing Unavailable that didn’t quite land for me.  Chang’s army was a storyline I liked when it was played for absurdity but here, with the expulsions and so on, even as a set up, even in the world of Greendale, it felt a step too far.  How’s that possible in a world where paintball westerns erupt?  Because it was a bit too real.  It wasn’t out there enough.  But the riot was.  I dunno, the main premise that got them expelled just seemed to sit awkwardly in nowhere land for me between ‘that would never happen, even in this world’ and ‘we need a reason to get them out of Greendale’.

Top line – “Oh yes, we could have a little service, and I could bring some of my brownies and I guess somebody should sing Ave Maria, I mean can do it, whatever”. – Shirley.

98. History 101 (S4 E1) Written by Andy Bobrow, Directed by Tristram Shapeero

s4e01I think everyone was a bit wary when they first sat down to watch the season 4 premiere.  I know I was.  But, truth be told, after watching it, I was full of hope.  It was an episode that directly addressed that Community wold be a different show without Harmon and then featured a Hunger Games style tournament to win places in an ice cream class.  It was an episode that threw a lot at the wall to see what’d stick.  And that was what I liked about it.  It seemed a smart thing to do for the first episode of a new show.  And a lot of it worked.  I loved the little ‘up next’ teasers during Abed’s TV fantasies.  The beginning of Troy and Britta.  Fred Willard playing Pierce in the four camera style version of Community was great.  Pierce not being able to find a joke about balls and Jeff wanting to prove himself to the group all felt right and like it was going somewhere. Sure, the Muppet Babies stuff didn’t work and the Hunger Games stuff was a bit much but it’s fine, they were testing things out.  For me that’s what made season 4 most of a disappointment, that the first ep showed real promise.  But for the rest of the year they largely kept making this episode.  A checklist of things they felt a Community episode should have.

Top line – “I have had the worst day.  Our dance photo didn’t come out, someone moved my stapler but worst of all, I hurt you”. – The Dean.

97. Competitive Wine Tasting (S2 E20) Written by Emily Cutler, Directed by Joe Russo

s2e20If Community was a skit show, this episode would be much higher.  Obviously, ‘My emotions! MY EMOTIONS!’ gained a whole life of it’s own after this episode just for starters.  The black version of Fiddler on the Roof was fantastic and the idea of a Who’s the Boss? class taught by Stephen Toblowsky also.  But the A story, whilst amusing, never really went anywhere or was really spoke of again.  It was a so so story as it unfolded, revealing the depths of Jeff’s jealousy. Towards the end of season 2 Pierce went off with the heir to another moist towel empire and that was the last we ever really heard of it.  I spent a chunk of season 3 expecting that to come back.  So I think this is an episode I certainly enjoyed a lot more first time round and as time went on it fell more into ‘whatever happened to Wu Mei?’  As a side note, the later revelation that NBC asked Harmon for a showreel for Kevin Corrigan before he was allowed to be cast, and that Harmon just sent them The Departed on DVD is brilliant.  So, like I say, if it were a skit show, much higher.  I can’t in all good conscious move this episode higher because of a few memes.  Because this matters.  Honestly, it does.  It’s very important.  Also I never really watched Who’s the Boss? so I have little idea who Angela even is.

Top line – “My emotions!  MY EMOTIONS!” – Troy

96. Grifting 101 (S6 E9) Written by Ryan Ridley, Directed by Rob Scrab

community_the_payoffMore for what it wasn’t than it was, which is probably more my fault than theirs, Grifting 101 didn’t work for me.  A class on grifting hosted by Matt Berry set up as a homage to The Sting complete with hand drawn title cards has all the hallmarks of one of the series finest but it felt like they didn’t really do a lot with it.  Or at least not as much as they could’ve.  The major grift itself was ok, I guess, but didn’t have the pay off, especially since Matt Berry felt a little underused.  Or the build up really.  It was a whole lot of funny jokes wrapped around a premise that didn’t seem to really matter even just contained in one episode.  The gags within though were strong enough to carry it along.  Abed and Annie switching suitcases, the Dean counting money, more berating of Jim Belushi.  Season 6 copped a lot of flak but I for one thought it was a really, really strong season with this just being the least great.

Top line – “Ok, just so you know, if I do and we have half Sting children, when they ask me how to grift, I’m gonna tell them to watch their mother not listen to YOU!” – Abed

95. The Politics of Human Sexuality (S1 E11) Written by Hilary Winston, Directed by Anthony Russo

s1e11What this is is a very good mid first season episode.  Not much more not much less.  There’s some back story, some character development, some Greendale development, the addition of a new recurring character in Officer Cackowski and a good little A, B and C story.  It’s a good episode.  That’s what it is.  It’s not one of the best ever, but it’s a long, long, long way from being bad.  Jeff and Pierce bond, Troy realises maybe he’s not the Troy he thought he was and Annie is younger and a little more innocent than maybe we first thought.  It’s mid season one, have some groundwork.  Some funny, funny groundwork.  Also the incorporation of the real life story of Alison Brie having sex with a gay guy in a closet into Annie’s backstory was a nice touch.  If you haven’t read that short story by Brie, do that now.  That’s an order.

Top line – “Is there a pill that makes the word “no” clearer?” – Jeff

94. Laws of Robotics and Party Rights (S6 E5) Written by Dean Young, Directed by Rob Schrab

community-laws-of-robotics-and-party-rights-review_d8wz.640This is another one of those episodes in which, if pressed, I can’t really say why it didn’t work as well for me as others, it just didn’t.  Maybe it felt a bit like a mid season treading water sort of episode which seemed odd in a shortened season?  The Abed filming a party thing didn’t seem to make a lot of sense since he clearly knows about parties, he’s been to plenty by this point.  It’s not that it wasn’t funny though.  Abed taking over all the iPads at the end complete with cameo from real life Abed was great.  The ‘Female Friends’ title card was great.  Britta explaining what she thinks ‘hoist with our own petard’ means was wonderful. And it was nice to see Jeff teaching again but in the true test of how all art is subjective, here’s an episode I didn’t gel with.  I saw reviews and posts of people saying the inmate trying to murder Jeff by pushing him down the stairs was one of the funniest moments of the season.  Didn’t click with me.  Dunno.  I got nothing.  Sorry.

Top line – “I have a brain the size of Jupiter, I’m nobody’s fourth Ghostbuster”. – Elroy

93. Early 21st Century Romanticism (S2 E15) Written by Karey Dornetto, Directed by Steven Sprung

s2e15It feels wrong to put an episode that was so John Oliver heavy in the nineties.  It really does.  But I’ve done it.  And there’s no going back.  Well, there is but if I keep revising this list every time I doubt a ranking I’d never get anything done.  Actually I’m not getting anything done anyway because I’m doing this ranking thing.  Never mind.  Jeff has a party to watch soccer with Duncan, Chang gate crashes and moves in and we meet Magnitude for the first time. Britta thinks her friend is a lesbian and vice versa.  Troy and Abed double date the same girl and then realise they like each other more than her but not like that.  Jeff realises he likes his study group more than he was willing to admit.  A lot of people realise stuff.  Episode is funny. Doesn’t really stick in memory particularly well, hence ranking.  To that point, I’d have to actually look it up to remember what Pierce was even doing this episode.

Top line – “Well, I don’t believe in dibs, or love at first sight, or love, or best friends, or doing things, but it’s good you brought this to me” – Jeff

92. Advanced Gay (S3 E6) Written by Matt Murray, Directed by Joe Russo

s3e6Another subjective (well, they all are) ranking purely in the comedy stakes here.  I say that because narratively, as far in as season 3, we’re still getting really lovely dollops of backstory. Meeting Pierce’s father and his ivory wig is a huge character moment.  As is Jeff effectively killing him.  And Troy turning down the offer of joining the air conditioner school also.  When you write the whole story of the show, a lot happens in this episode.  And it’s mostly done really well.  But first and foremost Community is a comedy show and this was just one of those episodes that I enjoyed the development but I don’t really remember laughing much on first watch, nor subsequent ones.  Great story episode, just not an overly funny one.  In almost every other sitcom that’d put it top ten.  The fact that I have it so low basically just goes to show how absurdly good and consistent a show Community was.  That said, it does contain one of the smartest, if not the funniest, gags of the season.  See below.

Top line – “Have you heard the expression room temperature?  This is the room.  This is the room temperature room”. – Vice Dean Laybourne

91. Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations (S4 E5) Written by Steve Basilone & Annie Mebane, Directed by Tristram Shapeero

s4e5In many ways, an episode not too dissimilar from Advanced Gay.  Hugely narratively important episode with Jeff finally seeking out and finding his father though not really the funniest episode.  Again, Community is a show that it would be wrong to just judge on whether one finds an episode funny or not unlike a pure comedy show like, say, Comedy Bang! Bang! but it is a sitcom.  It’s number one job is to be a comedy.  That it packs in so much character and story and heart at the same time is remarkable.  Anyway, here’s an episode with a story that even if Harmon had’ve been around in Season 4 they were going to have to get to.  That they did it without him filled me with a bit of dread but as it turns out, they did a good job I thought.  Jeff’s confessions to his dad were top shelf and James Brolin made a great Dad Winger.  Adam DeVine as Jeff’s half brother did well but felt like overkill.  You can’t help but think there was a subtler way to do that part of the story.  Elsewhere, playing on the family side of things, Shirley’s Thanksgiving played well, especially Pierce’s involvement but, like most of season 4, the Shawshank parody felt shoehorned in like they realised they hadn’t spoofed anything this episode so had better jam something in there.  That this episode wasn’t a disaster was an achievement in itself.  That it was pretty damned good is impressive.

Right, ten more tomorrow.  See you then.

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. Daniel Watts says:

    I’m enjoying this countdown so far, and I look forward to seeing your order for some of the shows fan-favorite episodes and the rest of season 6, especially.

    While I may not agree with some of the rankings, especially “Early 21st Century Romanticism” seemingly being ranked below some poor season 4 outings, I’m glad we have differing opinions and we seemingly share similar views on individual episode elements.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Grant Scullion says:

    I’m loving the countdown, you’ve put so much work into it.

    I agree with quite a few of your choices.

    Anyway, I know I couldn’t do this, too much decision making for the best show ever made.


  1. #SixSeasons – Part I | Trunk Talk - […] Jump to 100-91 […]
  2. #SixSeasons – Part III | Trunk Talk - […] to 110-101 * Jump to 100-91 * Jump to […]
  3. #Six Seasons – Part IV | Trunk Talk - […] to 110-101 * Jump to 100-91 * Jump to 90-81 * 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 […]
  5. #SixSeasons – Part VI | Trunk Talk - […] to 110-101 * Jump to 100-91 * Jump to 90-81 * Jump to 80-71 * Jump to […]
  6. #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 […]
  7. #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 […]
  8. #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…
  9. #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…
  10. #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…
  11. #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…
  12. #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…
  13. #SixSeasons – Part XV | 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…
  14. #SixSeasons – Final Wrap Up | Trunk Talk - […] 100. Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy (S2 E18) […]

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