Jun 8, 2015

Posted by in Ramblings

#SixSeasons – Part VI

#SixSeasons – Part VI
All 110 episodes of Community ranked

In which I continue ranking, according to my own analysis, every single episode of Community.  After this post, we’re half way. Thanks to all of you who’ve been reading these and commenting and agreeing and disagreeing in the comments, on Reddit, or Twitter or wherever.  Much appreciated.

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.

60. Herstory of Dance (S4 E8) Written by Jack Kukoda, Directed by Tristram Shapeero

s4e8A season 4 episode!  This high!? Heathen?!  Nope.  This (and one other yet to come) are the only two (or maybe three) season 4 episodes that I would confidently say could exist in the first three seasons and no-one would bat an eyelid.  There is only one real major misstep in the episode and that comes in the form of the end tag which is basically just a preview of the much billed puppet episode for next week.  It’s a very un-Community move and one presumably driven by NBC, but at least it’s not just a ‘Coming Next Week’ thing and is at least a wee bit of fan service via a humming of Daybreak.  The episode itself though, is great.  The whole sitcom double date thing that Abed embarks on is executed well and ably assisted by a knockout cameo performance from Brie Larson, something Harmon himself obviously agrees with she is the only major season 4 arc brought back for S5.  Britta committing to her mistake of calling for a ‘Sophie B Hawkins’ dance is a classic Britta move, and that it is saved by a welcome appearance of the good natured, fatherly Pierce is also a nice touch.  It’s a Pierce that crops up more in season 4 than other years and his moments with Jeff at the end are genuinely great and it’s all punctuated by Jeff’s text to Britta.  Seriously, if you’re hating on this episode for a reason other than ‘AAARGGHH GAS LEAK YEAR FUCK NBC IT SUCKS YOU SUCK BURN THE WITCHES’ I’d be genuinely surprised. But then I got told to shut my whore mouth for putting Environmental Science at 104 so what do I know…

Top line – “There are, like, dozens of computers”. – Britta

               “Yeah but my email’s on this one”. – Pierce

59. Social Psychology (S1 E4) Written Liz Kackowski, Directed by Anthony Russo

s1e4The first proper John Oliver as Professor Duncan episode after his setup in the pilot and it’s also one of his best appearances.  Obviously Troy, Shirley and Pierce leaving hurt the show in one way or another but damn if I don’t miss Duncan.  The main storyline in this episode focuses on Jeff and Shirley bonding over the mutual mocking of Britta’s new boyfriend which is fine, and works well enough in building Jeff’s relationship with another one of the main characters, which is basically the aim of each of the first half dozen or so episodes.  But it’s the B story where this episode is a real winner. In one story about a psychological experiment we get something not only ridiculously funny but a near perfect early insight into some really key facets of some main characters. It’s short, sharp and direct.  Duncan is at a loss, Annie is focused, Chang is unstable, Troy is just about holding it together and Abed, well, Abed is someone who might actually care about all these friendships more than anyone since he’s never really had any before. Also, at episode four, if you weren’t familiar with any of these actors before, or had only knew of some of their previous work a little, you realised you might be looking at one of TV’s best ensemble casts right here.  The first handful of episodes can be difficult for any new show but this episode hit it out of the park early.

Top line – “Let me answer that question with another question! (blows massive raspberry)” – Duncan

58. Asian Population Studies (S2 E12) Written by Emily Cutler, Directed by Anthony Russo

S212Another return of Rich is actually a really good example of the entire system of democracy.  Most people, when they vote, are just looking out for number one and sod everyone else. Altruism be damned.  Take the recent UK General Election as a pretty solid example of that.  So here the group are electing a new member of the study group and there’s a number of choices for that role.  Despite presenting the evidence in a ‘for the good of the people’ way each spokesperson has their own agenda, never mind the candidates themselves.  And each person isn’t voting for what’s the best for the group, it’s all for purely selfish reasons.  Whether that’s trying to get your new boyfriend into the group who just happens to have the best damn kettle corn ever, or whether it’s just plain ole jealousy.  There’s a lot of room for one liners in this episode and they’re not wasted.  And watching Annie and Jeff butt heads is always a treat as they’re probably the two most headstrong at this point.  All of this comes to a head when Pierce blurts out that Chang might be the father of Shirley’s unborn baby.  There’s a lot at stake this episode and the misdirection at the end when Jeff bolts off, in the rain, to Rick’s house, not Annie’s, is a beautiful ending.  That and one of the best, most subtle, jokes you’ll ever find about a Cosby sweater.

Top line – “Stalling?  Ha ha ha.  Stalling?  No Annie, in fact you’re going to wish I was stalling, oh, I just got it, thank you”. – Jeff 

57. Advanced Criminal Law (S1 E5) Written by Andrew Guest, Directed by Joe Russo

s1e5I ummed and ahhed about where to put this episode for ages.  It’s good, obviously, but that Troy and Abed storyline where Abed attempts to ‘trick’ Troy is just so over the top and makes so little sense for these characters even after just five episodes, and all that without actually making me laugh I kept trying to knock it down a few pegs. Despite Garrett’s grand entrance at the end.  But then Britta’s cheating and her martyrish admission is just too good.  And the court in the pool.  And Duncan.  And Leonard in the pool.  And one of the great Winger speeches as Jeff goes full lawyer. And the invoking of 9/11.  And Starburn’s name is Alex alright? And Pierce and Annie’s relationship. And the pencil tag.  And the Luis Guzman statue.  And Pierce’s song at the end.  Oh my lord Pierce’s song at the end.  In many ways it was a cheap way to get Chevy Chase being Chevy Chase at a piano.  And I have little to no problem with that in a brand new show in episode five especially when it works this well.  So yeah, just under half way feels about right.

Top line – “I’m sorry, do you mind if we have this conversation in a room with less balls?” – Duncan

56. Basic Genealogy (S1 E18) Written by Karey Dornetto, Directed by Ken Whittingham

s1e18We get glimpses into the heart and the arseholeishness of all the characters throughout season 1 and the implications that swinging from one to the other has for everyone involved. That mechanic is quite prevalent in this episode, late in that first season whilst also giving an opportunity to delve a bit more into each’s family.  Using a family day at Greendale might seem like cheating, in terms of a way of doing that, but it’s such a dysfunctional place to begin with, it works just fine.  We find out more about Jeff’s lack of family and Pierce’s desire to muster up some version of one and how that fits together, especially in light of Jeff’s recent break up.  That ‘father figure’ role Pierce is looking to inhabit really comes to the fore here.  And the moments with Abed and Shirley’s kids are genuinely touching and a subtle, yet spot on commentary on the imposing of a parent’s religion on their offspring.  And with Troy and Britta, whilst it’s mainly played for the comedy, there’s a great insight into Troy’s resignation and Britta’s stubbornness, two factors that will come to play more in S2.  It’s a bit weird that Annie has no family present but you get the feeling that’s got more to do with an episode needing to be 21 minutes more than anything else.  That said, it’s not really until S5 we ever meet any of Annie’s family.  Overall though it’s one of Community’s more heartfelt episodes, but still very funny (switches, Pictionary, trade embargoes with Naboo) which fits in excellently after some of the madness of the episodes aired just prior.  Also, not that she’s bad or anything, far from it, but Katherine McPhee is the strangest guest star the show ever had.

Top line – “I don’t understand you Britta!  I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU AT ALL!” – Troy

55. The Science of Illusion (S1 E20) Written by Zach Paez, Directed by Anthony Davidson

s1e20Half way done now.  In a show like Community that is quite narrative and character driven at times, and one that has such a lot of genuine heart and sentimentality, and is often quite serious and melancholy too, it can sometimes come in for weird types of criticism.  Things like, ‘Yeah, it was really funny but I expected more’.  Which is kind of it being a victim of its own brilliance but lest not forget that first of all, it is a comedy.  And sometimes it’s ok for it just to be flat out, balls to the wall funny.  Like this episode.  We get some character growth here and there, with Annie and Shirley especially, but above and beyond everything else this is just a damn funny 20 odd minutes of television. From Britta’s absolutely disastrous April Fool’s Joke that sees a corpse thrown out of a window which gets her to a place where she realises she’s a buzz kill destined to Britta things forever (even though it doesn’t have the nomenclature yet…), to the good cop-bad cop pastiche highlighted by Annie slamming Jeff’s head into the study table, to Abed’s police chief, to Pierce’s magic outfit and the epic group breakdown at the end.  No-one but no-one cries quite like Glover but everyone gives him a run for his money here, especially Alison Brie.  Oh, and the tag. You’d be hard pressed to find a better ‘episode’ of ‘Troy and Abed in the Morning’ than this first one.  Sometimes it’s ok just to crank out a piss funny one.

Top line – “It’s not a meteor, it’s a cookie wand!!” – Troy

54. Anthropology (S2 E1) Written by Chris McKenna, Directed by Joe Russo

S2E1Now, the first episode of S2 is always a tricky one.  Given the show has been given a second season you could hopefully expect a swag of new viewers tuning in to see why.  So you’ve got to get them up to speed, plus move on the story from the S1 cliffhanger, set up the new season, keep it true to itself and give the audience some sort of hook to keep them on next week.  Also, in the case of this season premiere, there would’ve been a few people switching on just as a result of the promos that heavily leaned on the guest appearance by one Betty White.  So, once again, Harmon, McKenna and co were on a hiding to nothing. Once again, they did more than just get through it ok, they nailed it. Community has always had really, really solid season openers and here’s no exception.  They get through all of the above and instead of it being a mess, it’s a really good, funny episode.  They pack a lot in and whilst normally you might criticise an episode for that, here it’s essential.  This is a massively important episode for the show in the world outside of the show and whilst those bucketloads of new viewers didn’t really arrive, or if they did, they didn’t hang around for long, it still hedged its bets without sacrificing much at all.  The Britta and Jeff situation from the end of S1 is addressed, and it’s effect on Annie, in a way that is perfect for those characters. There’s some excellent meta stuff going on as well with Troy waking up dressed as Spiderman and Betty White joining Troy and Abed in the tag.  It’s difficult to over stress how hard it is to get these sorts of episodes right, hence why it impresses me so much.

Top line – “Look, we agreed that you and I kissing was a mistake and if anyone were to find out about it. I would be tarred, feathered, and put on one of those websites people check when they’re buying a house”. – Jeff

53.  Communication Studies (S1 E16) Written by Chris McKenna, Directed by Adam Davidson

s1e16By this point I feel like Community had really worked out what sort of show it was going to be and was going to avoid the traps most other sitcoms fall into by this stage  The will they/won’t they sort of dynamic that existed between Jeff and Britta was now fully formed as being massively different from something like a Jim and Pam, or a Ross and Rachel, or a JD and Elliot kinda deal. Jeff and Britta are starting to be just friends.  Confused friends, friends who might end up sleeping together, but basically just friends.  There isn’t going to be a big happy ending and it works, not just because Community takes delight in not being ‘that’ show but also because McHale and Jacobs have such good on screen chemistry.  That all of this plays out against the backdrop of Abed orchestrating a method acting drunk dialling procedure sells it even more.  The B story involving everyone else and pantsuits doesn’t work as well but that final scene with Britta in the red dress, Michelle and Jeff is just so perfect it just doesn’t matter.

Top line – “She has more fights about stuff that doesn’t matter than a YouTube comment section”. – Jeff

52. Pascal’s Triangle Revisited (S1 E25) Written by Hilary Winston, Directed by Joe Russo

S1e25Community’s first season had 25 episodes?  Bloody hell.  Anyway, the season 1 finale does pretty much everything a season 1 finale should and then does a bit more just for good measure.  It feels, in many ways, a natural bed fellow to Communication Studies as the whole Britta and Jeff thing comes to a head at a school dance.  Most season 1 cliffhangers would’ve ended where this one takes its final act break, with Britta declaring her love for Jeff.  The will they/won’t they then extends over the break and because it’s TV we assume they will and it’ll be rocky and blah blah blah blah, who cares.  But it doesn’t end there.  It still has time for awkwardness and for Jeff to not be the lovable hero but instead the frankly pompous arse.  Then it throws in a drunk and sleazy Duncan, some meta commentary about Troy and Pierce’s relationship that the writer’s kind of abandoned, Troy eating too much cookie, some dalmatians and a weird yearbook end tag.  Oh, and Annie kisses Jeff at the end after ditching Vaughn.  It doesn’t have a build up, it doesn’t feel like it’s coming, it just happens. It’s a nice metaphor for Community season one actually.  ‘We know what you expect to happen, and we have some idea of what we’re meant to be doing, but sorry, we’re doing this now instead’.  I mean, in terms of character beats, they kinda stuck a series worth in a season which really made you look forward to season 2 with a sort of, ‘What have they got left’ feeling.  Heaps as it turned out.  

Top line – “Oh, I’m sorry, I have to go.  I just won a contest for being hot”. – Britta

51. Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism (S3 E9) Written by Chris Kula, Directed by Anthony Russo

s3e9Unlike the second of the German episodes, which is in my bottom ten, their first appearance is a great episode and not just because of Nick Kroll who does have a habit of turning up and making things great.  The Jeff and Shirley story is sweet, savage and funny and the anime battle that comes out of it towards the end is pure season 3.  But it’s the B story that shines this episode as Annie breaks Abed’s special edition The Dark Knight DVD.  This is where we first really get to see Annie start to become part of Troy and Abed’s world and how that can play out in the future.  Character wise it’s great but it also just gives Donald Glover and Alison Brie a chance to go completely off the hook in some of the entire series funniest sequences.  When you cap that off with the lovely little flashback cut at the end of the episode with Jeff and Shirley walking off (and the return of one of Ludwig Göransson’s most lovely pieces of music, who is someone I have been remiss in giving major accolades to thus far but I’m getting there) and Leonard’s pizza review tag you’ve got yourself a damn fine episode of Community.

Top line – “Let’s not jump to thing doing” – Troy

Tomorrow we enter the top 50

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. Me again. As I alluded in previous comment, Herstory of Dance had an end tag with Sophie B. Hawkins that I interpret you’ve not seen. You may be able to find it online.

    • Trunkman says:

      Hi, yes, I have seen it and both you mention are on the DVD versions, though weirdly not on the initial iTunes release. These reviews although are based on initial broadcast, hence the numbering also. Ie some episodes were screened out of order, especially in S3, which ruined the narrative flow although they’re switched around into the right order on the DVD. But that, along with the wrong tags, really unbalanced by first, and first couple of repeat, viewings of said episodes.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. #SixSeasons – Part II | Trunk Talk - […] Jump to 110-101 * Jump to 90-81 *  Jump to 80-71 * Jump to 70-61 * Jump to 60-51 […]
  2. #SixSeasons – Part III | Trunk Talk - […] Jump to 110-101 * Jump to 100-91 * Jump to 80-71 * Jump to 70-61 * Jump to 60-51 […]
  3. #SixSeasons – Part I | Trunk Talk - […] to 110-101 * Jump to 90-81 *  Jump to 80-71 * Jump to 70-61 * Jump to 60-51 * Jump to […]
  4. #SixSeasons – Part VIII | Trunk Talk - […] Jump to 110-101 * Jump to 100-91 * Jump to 90-81 * Jump to 80-71 * Jump to 70-61 * Jump to 60-51 […]
  5. #Six Seasons – Part IV | Trunk Talk - […] to 110-101 * Jump to 100-91 * Jump to 90-81 * Jump to 70-61 * Jump to 60-51 * Jump to 50-41 * Jump to […]
  6. #SixSeasons – Part VII | Trunk Talk - […] Jump to 110-101 * Jump to 100-91 * Jump to 90-81 * Jump to 80-71 * Jump to 70-61 * Jump to 60-51 […]
  7. #SixSeasons – Part V | 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 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 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…
  10. #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…
  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…
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  14. #SixSeasons – Final Wrap Up | Trunk Talk - […] 60. Herstory of Dance (S4 E8) […]

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