Jun 5, 2015

Posted by in Ramblings

#SixSeasons – Part III

#SixSeasons – Part III
All 110 episodes of Community ranked

In which I continue ranking, according to my own analysis, every single episode of Community.  I have received a healthy dose of agreeance plus a thunderous amount of criticism on a number of different forums where in it would appear I have the wrong opinion of things so please keep the thoughts coming.

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.

90. Basic Story (S5 E12) Written by Carol Kolb, Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar

s5e12The first part of the two part ‘rushed’ finale of season 5 (more on that in #88).  For what was, at this point, most likely looming as the end of Community forever as Season 5 had some of the lowest ratings ever for series, it made sense for Harmon and Co to set up some sort of ‘closing the school’ scenario.  That there was no saving Greendale.  Subway, or whoever, was always going to take it over at some point.  That sentiment, whilst a bit of a downer, was certainly apt.  The comic premise that Subway, a brand that had always supported Community and had saved other fringe comedies like Chuck would be it’s ultimate downfall was also a nice touch. Which made it all a bit odd that the stakes never seemed that high, even though, they were.  Did these people really not care that much about Greendale after all?  Well, apart from the Dean, a near naked mess on the floor of his office. So despite, in places, it seeming like an episode that was being written on the fly, because it was, it still hangs together as a finale setup.  And there’s really funny stuff in it too.  The Dean, Annie and Abed’s dance, Jeff and Britta just deciding to get married, Duncan and Hickey’s flirt with being related, the school inspector and so on.  Oddly with Community, the finale set ups are always a little lacking compared to the actual finales themselves, Season 4 being the exception that proves the rule.

Top line – “Screw you guys, it’s time to get paid!  Five dollar!  Five dollar footlongs!  Any, any, any, any, five.  Five dollar footlongs!” – Chang

89. Heroic Origins (S4 E12) Written by Steve Basilone, Annie Mebane & Maggie Bandur, Directed by Victor Nelli Jr

s4e12One of the oddest episodes of Community ever in that I’m not sure what it was for.  It was pretty funny and super stylised in the style of an actual comic book (it actually reminded me of Ang Lee’s Hulk in places) but all it really did was retread the character’s back stories with nods, winks and some new jokes and odd convenient happenstances.  It felt, in part, like a catch up episode for new viewers just finding the show.  Why they’d be doing this twelve episodes into the much maligned fourth season though is anyone’s guess.  That, after all these amusing origin stories we still end up with the group yelling at each other and then forgiving each other as they so often do, especially in this fourth season makes it all the more puzzling.  And adding to that is the very clear and obvious absence of Chevy Chase save for the back of an old man who is clearly not Chevy Chase towards the end.  That said, as a bit of fan service, it works.  Kinda. And I kinda liked the way Abed reaching out to Chang is what makes him abandon his Changnesia scheme.  It doesn’t tie up the whole City College thing in any way, shape or form at all but it means Changesia is done with and that makes me very happy.

Top line – “Our story begins in the distant mists of a lost era.  2008”. – Abed

88. Advanced Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (S5 E10) Written by Matt Roller, Directed by Joe Russo

 s5e10The episode that Dan Harmon has said a number of times almost killed season 5.  He was determined to do a Dungeons and Dragons sequel to just prove that he could top the original.  It took so long to break, that writing ran over and, in his own words, the season finale arc suffered as a result.  And all that would be worth it if the episode was pure spun gold.  Instead it was pretty good.  It was nice to get some Hickey backstory as he plays D&D with the group and his son for ‘visiting rights’, and it makes some really nice observations on the nature of father/son relationships.  The game itself also plays out quite well.  There’s genuine very, very funny highlights with the Dean sending letters to Jeff and Abed being interogated by Hickey, but, for all the time sunk into this episode it still feels a bit rushed.  The first D&D had a much stronger group dynamic than here with Shirley in particular gone very early in the piece. And David Cross, someone of whom I’m a huge fan, somehow adds less than Charley Koontz did as Fat Neil.  A good episode, fan service maybe, Harmon’s own admitted stubbornness certainly, just not the heights of the first D&D.  Joe Russo’s direction here though, and camera movement especially, is top notch.  It’s an episode where you applaud the audacity to attempt it whilst wishing that maybe they hadn’t.

Top line – “Go find a name that’s not just another’s creature name plus hob”. – Jeff

87. Investigative Journalism (S1 E13) Written by Jon Pollack & Tim Holbert, Directed by Joe Russo

s1e13How much you liked this season one episode really boils down to how much you like Jack Black and his shtick.  First time I watched this episode I remember thinking, ‘Oh God, please tell me Community isn’t going to turn into that sort of show’.  Thankfully it didn’t.  It was a one off, and, as a one off, it worked just fine.  Black’s character clawing at the table as Jeff drags him off it by the trousers was unquestionably good physical comedy the sort of which Black excels at. The B plot of Jeff becoming the editor of the student paper serves as a nice excuse to pair he and Abed together at a time when the series was still very much about Jeff’s relationships with everyone else rather than everyone standing on their own as characters.  Also there was Chang’s ridiculously glorious ‘Senor Chang’ hip hop song.

Top line- “No, it’s fine. It’s fine. it’s just a little… little nosebleed. I get them when it’s dry and when my face gets kicked”. – Jeff

86. Home Economics (S1 E8) Written by Lauren Pomerantz, Directed by Anthony Russo

s1e8Yet another example of a good first season episode.  The sort of episode most shows would say was a good season two episode but Community has already hit a stride of some sort by this point.  It’s our first look at the true unravelling and rebuilding of the man that was Jeff Winger:Lawyer that would be the focus of much of the entire series.  It’s also our first look at how Jeff and Britta might just be friends as she brings him his stolen faucets.  A platonic male-female relationship?  On a network sitcom?  Well I never.  Whilst that storyline, and Abed living with Jeff, is great the other stuff is a bit flatter.  Annie helping Troy on a date is funny enough, especially the stuff with Patton Oswalt, but was a bit too ‘sitcommy’ for my tastes.  Also, never liked Vaughn and I was worried at this point he was going to become a regular.  He just seemed a bit one note.

Top Line – “Yeah, move on with my life? Shmove shmon shmith shmy shmife”. – Jeff

85. Interpretative Dance (S1 E14) Written by Lauren Pomerantz, Directed by Justin Lin

s1e14In which we discover Troy’s secret love of dance, Britta’s jealous for Jeff’s new girlfriend and the school’s relationship form is incredibly detailed.  Another episode that’s solid, and funny, but still fits like a bit of a misfit to me.  A traditional season 1 episode of a more traditional network sitcom and following on from the Jack Black episode directly before it I found myself wondering what direction Community would ultimately be going in.  Things got back on track, well, track for Community pretty quickly after this though.  It’s much more enjoyable watching this episode back than it was on first viewing.  Also, excellent tag with the character’s names in the crossword.

Top line – “The biggest truths aren’t original. The truth is ketchup. It’s Jim Belushi. Its job isn’t to blow our minds”. – Jeff

84. Intro to Recycled Cinema (S6 E8) – Written by Clay Lapari, Directed by Victor Nelli Jr

s6e8When the trailer for Season 6 was released there were a few shots from this episode in it that intrigued people.  The costumes obviously meant there was at least one ‘concept’ episode coming this season.  Abed saying ‘Bazinga’ concerned some, which ended up being in this episode, although personally I admit to not getting the reference till I looked it up having failed to ever get through an episode of The Big Bang Theory. Incidentally, more power to it, it has it’s place, that place is just not my lounge room.  Anyway, everything in this episode that wasn’t Abed’s actual movie, I enjoyed. Those aspects felt like they would’ve benefited from it needing to be 21 minutes, one of only two eps in season six I thought would’ve benefited from the shorter run time.  I just didn’t enjoy the film within the show.  Outside of that, Guttenburg was great, ‘Haaammmm Girl’ amusing, Abed and Jeff’s talk in the frisbees on point and pretty full on, Jeff’s obsession with Chris Pratt followed up by Chris Pratt’s endorsement of said obsession on Twitter, and then tag, ‘I don’t go out the way I came in’ just brilliant.  The rest, the ‘concept’ bit, wasn’t my cup of tea this episode.  And there was a lot of it.

Top line – “But our plans are randomly going to fall apart and our lessons are randomly gonna be wrong. And if we just keep the cameras rolling and shoot a lot of crap eventually Annie is going to reach down her shirt and pull out a laser bomb”. – Abed

83. Curriculum Unavailable (S3 E19) Written by Adam Countee, Directed by Adam Davidson

s3e20Here’s an episode that is more or less one long set up for The First Chang Dynasty in two episodes time.  It’s also, in some sense, a skit show.  Sure, it’s Chang’s last role of the dice as he tries to convince the study group they’ve spent three years in an insane institution and there was no Greendale, but it’s also a chance to revisit the fake clip show idea they’d done before.  No question about it, it’s damn, like really damn funny, but it doesn’t really serve the story in the way the first clip show did which, predictably, is some way off in this countdown.  The device to get into it though, with the brilliant John Hodgman as Abed’s therapist works well.  Also, something that sticks out in this episode for me was Officer Cackowski rape joke.  It just seemed so out of place for Community, almost like a shock value joke just for the sake of it.  Especially since it come off the back off, then was followed by, some lovely absurd stuff about an expensive brick.  Also, broadcast way, I think this episode was a bit of a scheduling victim since the proceeding episode didn’t follow on at all, it was a one-offer, rather than finishing up the story.

Top line – Annie – “Troy!  You can’t bring that in here!”

               Troy – “Yes I can, it’s all-terrain dummy”.

82. Football, Feminism and You (S1 E6) Written by Hilary Winston, Directed by Joe Russo

s1e6Another good, feet finding first season episode that feels weird looking back on.  Troy was a football star.  It even sounds weird.  After he joins the useless Greendale team, complete with the new soon to be infamous Human Beings mascot, we hear little of Troy playing football ever again.  There’s experimentation, writing wise, going on with some style here too.  There’s more of the sort of Mamet banter we got in the pilot back in here between Troy and Jeff this time, which is something that faded away throughout the year.  The writer’s are still playing around with relationships at this stage as well, trying to see how Britta and Shirley can work together, laying down some Jeff and Annie work including the first ‘M’lord, m’lady’ that ‘shippers will latch onto like one of those sucker fish on a shark and Troy and Abed hijinks.  But at this stage Annie is still a confused teenager.  Remember, she’s not that long out of rehab at this point, of course she’s a mess.  Everything works, it’s all very funny but like many episodes in this bit of my ranking, it’s just a good, solid, early episode that’s just showing the working out, which sounds like a slight, but it really isn’t.

Top line –      Troy – “How did you know my nickname was T-Bone?” 

                   Jeff – “Because you’re a football player and your name begins with ‘T’. Your name…                                begins…with “T.”

81. Contemporary Impressionists (S3 E12) Written by Alex Cooley, Directed by Kyle Newacheck

s3e12An episode that tried out something new that we hadn’t seen in Community before with the little VFX animations.  We saw exploding apples in Jeff’s mind and thought processes in Chang’s.  The fact we never really saw it again kind of says how much Harmon and co thought it worked.  This was meant to be the first episode back after the long mid season 3 hiatus but was shuffled back to the second which made no narrative sense since the episode starts with everyone returning from break.  Another example, if we’re honest, of how little a shit NBC gave about Community.  Or comedy for that matter since this was around the time Parks and Rec began to get semi-regular shaftings as well, but I digress.  We get another look at Jeff’s broken, fragile ego which seems a nice kicking off point for a return episode.  But what I especially liked was it was the first episode in a long time, maybe ever, that we got to see the real effects of Abed living the way Abed does.  It was long overdue by this point.  Whilst a lot of the episode felt a bit forced, like the tag and the French Stewart gag, and certainly jarring as well with the animations, it’s impossible not to like Britta as Michael Jackson.  Literally impossible.

Top line – “You’re actually more handsome than the guy that’s famous for being handsome”. – Vinnie

More tomorrow…

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. All right, you’re a damn fool. You’re honestly saying “Heroic Origins” – the episode that got *everything* wrong about the characters’ backstories – is *better* than Messianic Myths? Also, you need to turn off the Internet and go re-watch Art of Discourse, son – it’s a top-tier episode in spite of the bratty schmitty kids.

    • Trunkman says:

      I’ve made it pretty clear in these posts that this ranking reflects one person’s opinion and then have provided my reasoning for that. Completely fine to disagree, that’s the beauty of art, it’s all subjective, but seriously, how does patronising and name calling help prove your point? Tell me about this ‘everything’ that it got wrong and why you think ‘Messianic Myths’ is better. And why, despite the kids who clearly annoyed you as well, is ‘Art of Discourse’ a top tier episode.

      I’m totally up for people to disagree with my rankings, that’s half the fun, but I don’t know what you’re contributing to the discussion here beyond your opinion is different to mine therefore I am wrong.


  1. #SixSeasons – Part I | Trunk Talk - […] Jump to 100-91 * Jump to 90-81 […]
  2. #SixSeasons – Part II | Trunk Talk - […] Jump to 110-101 * Jump to 90-81 […]
  3. #Six Seasons – Part IV | Trunk Talk - […] to 110-101 * Jump to 100-91 * Jump to 90-81 * Jump to […]
  4. #SixSeasons – Part VI | Trunk Talk - […] to 110-101 * Jump to 100-91 * Jump to 90-81 * Jump to 80-71 * Jump to 70-61 * Jump to […]
  5. #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 […]
  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 IX | Trunk Talk - […] to 110-101 * Jump to 100-91 * Jump to 90-81 * Jump to 80-71 * Jump to 70-61 * Jump to […]
  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 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 - […] 90. Basic Story (S5 E12) […]

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