Jun 16, 2015

Posted by in Ramblings

#SixSeasons – Part XIV

#SixSeasons – Part XIV
All 110 episodes of Community ranked

And so, here we are.  Numbers 5 to 1.  For a fortnight I have been ranking and reviewing every single episode of Community.  I’ll be writing one final wrap up on the whole series, and my experience reviewing them for tomorrow, but for now, here’s what I’ve ranked as the five best.

As always, a huge thanks to all of you who’ve been reading these and commenting and agreeing and disagreeing in the comments, on Reddit, or Twitter (I’m @TrunkmanUK btw), or Facebook or wherever.  Much appreciated.  Also, the reviews are getting a lot longer as the episodes get into the Top 20, so it’s only five episodes a day for the run home, so sorry/you’re welcome for that. Delete as appropriate.  I’ve added more pictures to break it up though.

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.

5. Pillows and Blankets (S3 E14) Written by Andy Bobrow, Directed by Tristram Shapeero

s3e14Pillows and Blankets is a great character episode.  It takes its characters and their emotions seriously.  It treats the feud between Abed and Troy, not as something trivial about a fort, but as something honest about these two very close friends.  And it deals with it in a truthful and appropriate way.  That bit when Jeff goes back to the Dean’s office to get the hats is a landmark for him.  In some ways it’s like Comparative Religion.  He might think it’s ridiculous but he treats it with respect because, ultimately, he respects these people as friends to each other, and himself.  And all of that is great.  It’s the heart of the episode and it’s done beautifully.  The pillow fight is almost some sort of physical representation of the battle Troy and Abed are having with each other in their heads as well.  It’s great.

S3epilAnd while it’s not a laugh a minute, it’s very funny and very surreal too.  Pierce’s pillow monster being the prime example of that.  Keith David too is great and proves here here’d make a great regular cast member if they ever wanted to go down that road…  Leonard likes this.  

And all the cast get good side stories too.  The Jeff and Annie stuff is top tier. Shirley, once again in a war time situation, is a serious bad ass.  And Britta as a truly shithouse photographer is all sorts of perfect.  And it’s great to see the likes of Garrett and the fringe characters crop up in meaningful bits also.  It all just works so well.

But it’s not the reason I love this episode.  It’s not why I think it’s the 5th best the show’s ever done. What is in the episode is second fiddle.  Which sounds insane when you consider just how good the actual story is.  But stick with me.

At this point in the season the show was running overtime and over budget.  But the storylines had already been set in motion.  Harmon and co needed a way to get back on track.  They could’ve cut some corners.  Shot some things a bit differently, sacrificed something here or there, maybe done another bottle type episode.  Even just have done a few less setups, shoot more wides.  I know I’ve done that.  But instead they went, ‘We could always do a PBS documentary, use a lot of stills and get Keith David to voice it’.  I can’t even.  And it added something else to episode.  It added drama, it added comedy.  The homage was spot on.

s3e14aI cannot express how much this episode impressed me on that level.  To demonstrate that level of inventive and creative problem solving, to be pushing those boundaries.  It’s incredibly ambitious to think you can pull this off for an entire episode rather than just one act, or one scene, as a joke.  It was born of necessity and they made it work.  By Christ did they.

It’s this sort of thing that makes me love Community as a thing, not just a TV show.  The on screen stuff is fabulous, one of the best sitcoms of the last ten or so years, easily, but it’s everything else that make me love it.  The way the levers are getting pulled behind the scenes.  Harmon’s demons and his openness with them.  The will they/won’t they get cancelled.  The clear fact that the cast are just having a ball making this show.  All of that, for me, is represented in this episode.  If any episode is everything that is Community, on and off screen, it’s Pillows and Blankets.

Top line – “Jeff, you’re disgusting. Troy and Abed’s friendship is at stake! You can buy special icons in packages at the app store. Sushi, birthday cake, stop sign, snowman, umbrella. Annie Edison”. – Annie

4. Regional Holiday Music (S3 E10) Written by Steve Basilone & Annie Mebane, Directed by Tristram Shapeero

s3e10cA polarising episode in some senses.  Some loved it, some hated it, some called it shark jumping, some called it genius.  Clearly, I liked it one hell of a lot.  Which is surprising because I’m not someone who usually likes musicals.  There’s not that many I can claim to really love either on film, TV or stage.

But there’s a lot to like about this episode, a lot, but I’ve decided to narrow it down to three things that have resulted in me putting it at #4.

Firstly, it’s a very joyful episode whilst being incredibly dark at the same time.  That’s a hell of a balancing act.  This was the final episode of S3 before the extended break so the show was facing an uncertain future itself.  So all we, as an audience, could do was to enjoy what we had and hope for the best.  Abed was hoping for a nice Christmas with his friends, watching a terrible movie for some fun given it had been a pretty dark year.  And it really had been by sitcom standards.  But no-one can, so Abed manufactures some fun.  Sure, the episode pokes fun at Glee but that’s something the show has always done and it’s playful.  And what happens to these characters, as the Glee virus takes over, is that they find fun and joy in being together, singing, and having, well, fun.  There’s nothing cynical about it once they give in to it.  The songs aren’t rude or taking snide potshots.  They’re happy, they’re fun, the lyrics are hopeful. Almost any other show, and a lot have attempted musical episodes, go down the cynical route.  This one doesn’t.  Everything about it just feels like a good time.  On screen and off.  It’s ok sometimes just to have a jolly good time when things are shit. ‘I guess I just like liking stuff’, Abed says, like that’s a bad thing.

s3e10aAnd then, at the peak of everyone just letting it happen, it gets dark again.  Real dark.  Like bus crash dark.  And Abed ponders if forced fun just makes things darker.  He’s got a point.  But then when everyone turns up to watch the Inspector Spacetime Xmas Special, it’s somehow not a cheesy ending.  It should be.  But it’s not because these people all like each other.  And I like watching them.  And I like this show.  And that’s alright isn’t it?  Not everything good has to be Sean Penn levels of serious and cynical and depressing.  Who knew what was going to happen with Community after the Xmas break. So just let us enjoy it for now.  Can we? Please.

Secondly, the story.  Community has almost always used story to drive its concept episodes.  To fuel them, if you will.  Very rarely do they feel shoehorned.  That’s much, much harder with a musical.  You have to make a conscious decision to do a musical and then try and think of a story you can tell about these characters that fits it.  And that’s hard.  It’s really, really hard to make the musical format work.  It’s a big risk but then Community has never really worried about that before. The problem with a musical is that there’s so much that can go wrong.  If the songs don’t work, you’re stuffed.  The story doesn’t matter.  So why not make that story be about the reluctance of doing a musical and how everyone thinks it’s a bit naff?  That feeds right into my first point as well, that sometimes being shitty about something is a shitty thing to do.  And we could just go with it instead.  But more so, in this episode, it still adds something to each character’s story.  Britta might be the worst, but she’s their worst.  Abed is lonely.  He really is.  When these people aren’t around all he’s got his TV and buttered noodles.  And, to me, that’s Harmon reaching out of the TV.  He’s saying, things are better with your friends around.  Stop being so down on everything if you can.  TV doesn’t have to be something you watch in a cynical manner.  That’s exactly what Abed’s doing when his friends turn up.  If you’re having fun, being cynical together, is it still being cynical?  It’s an episode that does pretty much everything right, and still has time to ask a lot of questions.  Light, dark, and everything in between.

s3e10bAnd finally, it’s something I’ve been saying a lot in these reviews.  Community is a situational comedy. It’s number one aim is to be funny.  And, of course, this is subjective, but I find this to be the funniest episode of the entire series.  I laughed more, and louder, in this than any other.  There are just so many moments in which I was doubled over in laughter.  The original Glee club forking themselves.  All the songs.  I mean, seriously, all of them.  The performances, the lyrics, the music, the lot.  And they all fit in with beats of each character.  That Shirley would be wooed into it by being allowed to sing about Jesus is great.  The meta mocking of Annie’s ‘too young’ sexuality.  And then even outside of the songs the jokes land.  Abed being baffled about who’s playing the piano.  Britta’s dance.  ‘Oh, Britta’s in this’ went on to become a catchphrase but Jim Rash’s delivery of ‘Why don’t we let Britta sing her awkward song’ is brilliant, and better.  Troy behind the door. Pierce not getting regionals. Plus every single other joke.  Everything lands.  Every single thing.  And then my top line for the episode is one of my favourite in any show ever.  I could go on and on and either you find it as funny as me, or you don’t.  But good mother of god this episode is the true definition of the world hilarious to me.

And, to finish off, I’m not someone who usually likes lots of things.  I’m very difficult to please, more so to impress.  But I love Community, and I love this episode.  I mean, if you can watch this 22 minutes of television and not laugh a lot, quite frankly, I don’t understand you, I don’t trust you, and I don’t like you.

Top line – “What’s a dimenemenmannah?” – Annie

3. Remedial Chaos Theory (S3 E4) Written by Chris McKenna, Directed by Jeff Melman

s3e411If you think about it, I mean, really think about it, there is no plot in this episode.  All that really, actually happens is some people go to a friend’s housewarming party and order pizza.  That’s it.  There’s no story hook.  So how have they created one of finest half hours of sitcom television there ever was?

Because, over the course of two seasons, they have created seven remarkable, and remarkably deep, characters and there is incredible scope, and pleasure, to just put them in different situations and see what happens.  And that, at its heart, is all this episode is.  It’s a stew.  Let’s throw these people in different versions of the same situation over and over, in different configurations and just see how it plays out.  And what it tells us is that people are fundamentally the same when you boil it down.  I don’t mean you and I are fundamentally the same, but rather in the sense that regardless of what situation I’m put in, I’m still going to act more or less within 10% either side of me.  Britta is always going to want to have a cheeky joint and sing badly, it’s just that sometimes she doesn’t.  Pierce is always going to want to tell you he banged Eartha Kitt.  Shirley gonna bake.  Jeff and Annie are still going to have some sort of weird, fucked up, repressed, confused feelings for each other.

s3e4aBut what it does so well in showing us this is to propose one big, big question.  Is the group actually better off without Jeff?  When Abed goes all meta at the end and calls Jeff out on his rigged game, Jeff is the one who must go get the pizza.  And when he returns, everyone’s let their guard down.  No-ones trying to impress anyone.  They’re all dancing and singing to Sting and no-one in their right mind does that unless they’re so happy they haven’t clocked that they’re listening to Sting.  It’s a massive question to drop in there all subtle like, especially since it’s not something I really picked up on on a first watch.  I just took it as a nice way of showing Jeff get his comeuppance.  But on a second, watch a couple of days laterr, I thought about it that way.  Especially after his Nicholson break down in the first episode of the season, where is Jeff going?  They needed him, now he needs them?  Or is he just dragging them down to his level?  It’s a question, as well as the larger one of group dynamics, the show will explore hugely this season.  And of course, in an episode that has two of the main characters moving in together, that’s a front and centre issue.

In amongst all of that though, what we’ve got here, is a very enjoyable, and very funny episode.  The multiple timeline aspect is a recipe for a joke factory.  By never getting too far into each one, McKenna can let things build up and then line up payoff after payoff later down the line.  It’s an extremely difficult sort of episode to keep a handle on, from a writing point of view, and it’s no end of credit that he manages to not only keep all the balls in the air but make the whole narrative really straightforward in what is without question a very high concept episode.  There’s too many comedic highlights to list them all so I’ll just pick out three.  The meta joke about the door/episode number is damn clever, the slow rise in the volume of Roxanne in the darkest timeline is gold and Jeff’s gesture to his missing arm. They’re all small things in the bigger scheme of the episode, but damn I love those moments.

s3e4The only down vote for this episode actually has nothing to do with this episode.  The introduction here of ‘the darkest timeline’ was a piss funny tag but I kinda wished that’s where it had ended.  It cropping up in both the S3 and S4 finale really didn’t work for me, but here, as a throwaway joke, it’s brilliant.

It’s no surprise that the best episodes are the ones in which this whole incredible cast (although Rash and Jeong are absent here) get to play off each other and the writers get to pit them all up against, or with, each other.  I honestly think, when we’re all said and done and someone’s making lists before the whole world descends into some sort of Fallout situation, this, and the other two yet to come on this ranking, will be rated as three of the best episodes of sitcom ever made.

Top line – “Pizza, pizza, go in tummy, me so hungee, me so hungee!” – Britta

2. Cooperative Calligraphy (S2 E8) Written by Megan Ganz, Directed by Joe Russo

s2ea1This was the first episode of the show that Megan Ganz wrote.  Unfortunately she doesn’t seem to be aware of the ‘setting the bar too high on your first attempt’ rule.  I mean, sweet weeping Jesus on the cross, I’m not sure if I stood and applauded in my loungeroom at the end of this episode but if I didn’t, I bloody well should have.

Bottle episodes are common place in TV, it’s just that no one usually draws attention to them because none of the characters start suggesting that they might be in one.  They’re a cost cutting measure most of the time, (though certainly not a time saving one), and that was also the case here.  But what theyve done with this episode is make the bottle episode, the staying in one room, a choice by the characters not one they are forced into because of a blackout or a zombie invasion or a locked door or whatever other cliched overused example you want to pick.  No.  They’re in here because Annie’s lost a pen.  And, if you look closely in the first scene, there’s not even a mystery to it as we see Annie’s Boobs take it. That said, I challenge anyone to have seen that on the first watch through.  That’s Community levels of attention to detail right there.

So the setup is absurd and it gets blown out of proportion.  But it’s even less absurd than what’s happening outside of the room.  Part of the ‘drama’ of a bottle episode is that the characters can’t get out to go to the important thing they’re meant to at instead.  A date, which in Jeff’s case is true, or a job interview or something simple like that.  What we get here is that they are all being kept from, and constantly reminded of, a puppy parade in the quad.  That’s so ridiculous it’s genius.  They aren’t going to a puppy parade because Annie’s lost a pen.  That’s 21 minutes of primetime television my friends.

s2eaIt’s an episode that just completely works on every level.  It is, more or less, perfect.  The performances in this episode are as good as they’ve ever been throughout the entire show.  The direction is subtle and brilliant.  Watch how the first scene is shot on sticks and track.  Then it’s handheld.  And then it’s very loose and shaky by the end of the episode as things ramp up.  That Joe Russo knows a thing or two I reckon.  And the writing.  Oh my god.  It’s the thing I watch and admire more than any other factor in a show, play or movie, probably since it’s what I do, and the beats in this episode.  My lord. It makes me want to give up writing because I might one day luck onto writing something this good but you’re never going to top it.

It’s essentially a three act play told out over 21 minutes.  It ramps up at a perfect pace, it hits all its marks, it gets all the characters involved in a way that is revelatory about their characters.  No-one feels underused and yet Jeff and Annie are clearly the leads.  It’s able to build because it has a mystery built into it, but one in which the answer to the mystery isn’t the point.  Who stole the pen is less important than the way the characters deal with trying to work it out.  The pen is nothing more than a catalyst.  And when you’ve got characters as well crafted as these, that tiniest of shoves is all you need for all the twists and turns that follow that eventually have them arrive at a resolution, having learnt something.  It’s pure Harmon story circle this episode and it shows why it works.

There’s another thing this episode does that singles Community out as doing its own thing.  It was so obvious the first time I saw it.  It was a very clear and bold statement to me that this is not your normal sitcom.  When all the character’s strip off to reveal they don’t have the pen, the three women in their underwear are stood behind a table.  Now, no disrespect to Yvette Nicole Brown, but two of those three women are what you might traditionally label as ‘really rather attractive’.  But they’re behind a table.  There’s no hot women in their undies parading round.  The men are all sat on the floor in their jocks though.  Don’t they know how TV works?  It’s a tiny thing in some sense, but a massive one in another.  Name me another network sitcom that wouldn’t have Alison Brie and Gillian Jacobs in their smalls every other week.  But here they’re behind the table.  And not because Harmon or Ganz are making a feminist point.  It’s exactly what the characters would do.  That action is not influenced by a network or a sex sells philosophy.  It’s true to the moment.  You’d be surprised how powerful I found that moment.

s2ea3And, of course, I’m not forgeting my golden rule.  It’s very, very funny.  Annie’s freak out, Troy’s insistence a ghost took it, Jeff’s call to Gwennifer.  My favourite type of comedy, and you’ve probably worked this out by now if you’ve been reading all of these, is that that comes out of the characters and dialouge.  I like words.  I’ll take a well crafted bit of wit over the most hilarious pratful any day.  And here, that’s all they’ve really got, shut in this room.  Dialogue, and funny dialogue, is the hardest thing to get right in any comedy.  If it’s clunky, or unrealisitc, it sticks out like dog’s bollocks and it’s something Community’s writers have always excelled at, episode after episode, but in this episode I’d argue it’s never been better.  And yet, they still find room for a pile of visual gags too with Pierce’s cast and Shirley’s pregancy test top examples.

The first time I saw this episode, and I said the same of the Mad Men episode ‘The Suitcase’ in an article I wrote about that show, I was quite emotional at the end of it, not because of the content of the episode, but because I knew I’d just watched something truly incredible.

Top line – “I’ll make your ass sense”. – Shirley

1. Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television (S6 E13) Written by Dan Harmon & Chris McKenna, Directed by Rob Schrab

s6e13bImmediately after I first watched the S6 finale I tweeted that I might have just watched the most perfect 30 minutes of television I had ever seen in my entire life.  And I have watched a lot.  Having watched it a few more times since, it’s a statement I stand by.

When I reviewed the pilot episode I rabbited on about how pilots are ridiculously difficult to get right.  You can multiply that by a thousand for a finale.  Because now you’ve got investment and expectation.  And the ending you give is most likely not going to be the ending a lot of people wanted.  You’re gonna piss some people off.  And no doubt this finale did as well.  But if you think about it, I mean really, really think about it, think about the entire Community world, the show, the off screen stuff, the people involved, everything, then I don’t know that you could create a finale more appropriate or better than this.  When it ended after my first watch I wiped a tiny tear away and said, I believe out loud, ‘Fucking well done Dan Harmon.  I don’t know how you did that’.

Now, I’m not trying to minimise other people’s involvement in the show, or put Harmon up on an infalable pedestal either, but his voice is stronger in this show than any other showrunner has in theirs I’d argue.  And we got some proof of that in Season 4.  Showrunners have changed in other shows but they never felt as integral to the ethos as Harmon did to Community.  It’s for that reason I’m very curious to see how season 5 of Veep turns out without Iannucci and Blackwell around.

Season 6 copped a lot of flak in some quarters for not being the same show, and therefore inferior, and suffering too much from the loss of Glover, Chase and Brown.  To that, I say poppycock.  Sure, it was a different season because it had to be, but it was in no ways inferior.  It was actually one of my favourites. Because it didn’t gloss over anything.  It accepted that people move on in real life and so things had to move on for these very real characters too.  But being the most self aware show on TV, it’s creators knew the show also had to move on.  Both during this season and beyond.  So why not address that?

s6e13aThat this season wasn’t a disaster is a miracle enough. That it was ridiculously good is almost unbelievable.  Any other show that attmepted to be as meta as this finale was, not just a few throw away fourth wall type jokes, would’ve collapsed into a steaming mess.  And I’ll admit that when I saw the teaser for the episode I was skeptical that the idea of the characters pitching a ‘Season 7’ would work.  But what we end up with is something akin to Remedial Chaos.  These characters can go anywhere, do anything.  Who knows where they’ll end up?  That’s not a lack of closure.  That’s not even ambiguity.  It’s the whole point.  Of Community.  Of life.  Jesus, that got deep.

The finale circles back on what the pilot was saying.  Here is Jeff Winger.  He used to be a lawyer.  Now he’s not.  He fucked up.  What happens next?  Let’s find out.

Jeff arrived wanting his old life back.  But he made new friends, and they left him.  He was the one that was meant to be here for a short time and now he’s been here the longest.  He’s fucked it up again.  Or has he?  He’s a better person now.  Isn’t he?  Has he really changed at all?  Isn’t he still just trying to manipulate people to do what he wants?  Make Annie and Abed stay.  But it doesn’t always work out that way and Abed sums it up so beautifully when he compares their lives to a TV show, which, in reality it is. ‘And it needs to be okay for it to get on a boat with Levar Burton and never come back’.  Danny Pudi’s performance on that monoluge, with the little voice crack, is as good as anything he’s done in the show.  And it’s powerful.  It’s meta, sure, but it doesn’t feel out of place because Abed sees most things as a TV show anyway.  Things have to change.  He has to grow up.  And he has.  He has and Jeff hasn’t.  Thump meet guts.  

Because we don’t want things to change while at same time complaining that they don’t.  We’re all just trying to do the best we can.  And that’s ok.  Just be happy we’ve had this time together.  I’m not going to vanish from your memory.

In the episode before the finale we got one final look at these people as the selfish dicks they can be when left unchecked.  Of course they can be.  We all can be, but that’s who these people are.  They aren’t going to drastically change their personalities, they arrived messed up and selfish and now they’re a bit less so.  They have all become better people, in some way, and grown for spending six years together but they’re still the same Annie, Abed, Jeff and Britta.  They didn’t need each other, or maybe they didn’t know they did until they were thrust together, but that’s who they got.  And they’re thankful for that.

s6e13eAnd yet, for all the meta commentary, and make no mistake, large parts of this show is Harmon talking directing to the audience (especially at the end when he talks directly to the audience), this is still a pretty standard story of these characters wondering what’s next and realising they have no control over it.  It’s pure Community.  It’s the entire show in one half hour, but the magic of it is that you can’t appreciate, nor even recognise that, without having seen the first 109.

There’s all sorts of things in this episode to love and laugh it.  There’s all sorts of bits that you can say sum up the show.  A lot of the time with Community, what’s going on in the background is more of the point than what’s right in front of you.  And I mean that metaphorically with the character’s actions and words and literally too.  Watch that final scene in the bar where Britta brings them all a drink again…

And then there’s Harmon’s voice over at the end, with the little voice catch as well, that’s, to me, one final bold statement of what this show is, was, and was ever trying to be.  It’s pure confessional.  Some hated it and called it a massive arrogant and ego trip move.  Look at Community.  You could NOT have made this show without someone like that at the helm.  It would be impossible.  So at that final moment, right at the end, the show collapsed in on itself.  But after that dark tag it made perfect sense.  This whole thing has been a game that we’ve been watching Dan Harmon play.  The show was the show.  It always was.  Why ignore that?

And it’d be wrong not to mention Jeff’s double goodbye hug to Abed.  A beautiful moment especially when we consider he’s the one that actually brought all these people together back in the pilot.  He saved Jeff.  And Jeff saved him.

s6e13cCommunity has always been a story of moving on.  From one thing to another.  Take it as it comes. Arrive back at the start having learnt something.  Story circle.  One by one they all just fade away.

And for me, the kicker, the moment of true genius comes in Jeff’s final pitch to himself.  Annie is dressed as season 1 Annie.  Jeff and her are together.  They have a kid.  This is how sitcom finales end up right?  The guy and the girl, happily ever after.  It’s what we’re conditioned to want.  It’s, in all honesty, what Jeff thinks he wants, whether he actually does or not.  Because he’s looking for the only thing that left him feeling like he was truly in control.  His youth.  But that’s bollocks.  We grow up, we change, we realise we were never in control.

“Do you have any idea what I want?”

No.  He doesn’t.  Because maybe none of us know what anyone else wants when we barely know what we want.  We’re all just improving.

Sometimes things have to end.  And move on.  And that’s for the best.  For everyone.  Because who knows what will come next.  But in your youth, you roll the dice.  Troy got on a boat.  Abed’s off to make a show in LA.  Annie’s off to the FBI.  She was always the smartest of the group and in this finale, she truly gets it.  She gets what she has to do.  What trying to do something with your life is.  She lost that for a while because Greendale was holding her back.  Holding Brie back even?  But you can’t see that when you’re in it.  She gets what Jeff needs, be that hope, pity or just a kiss.  The kiss isn’t about a kiss.  It’s about not regretting what you never had and looking forward to what you might.

And that’s why I did these rankings in some way.  The show is probably over.  There might be a movie.  Who knows.  I hope there is as much as I hope there’s not.  But I’m also not sad it’s over, or angry there won’t be more, or disappointed in the episodes I didn’t like as much as the others.  I liked them all.  I appreciated the ride.  And I can look back, fondly, at all those times, and those episodes. 

Whatever happens next to anyone is largely out of their control.  Or mine.  Or yours.  Be thankful for what you’ve got.  And what you had.  Don’t take it for granted.  And move on to something else.

And, above everything else, above it all, and I mean this, from the absolute bottom of my non existent soul.  

Don’t forget to laugh.

Maybe at a man with ice for a head who sounds like that guy out of Rick and Morty.  That’s back on soon right?

Top line – Every single one of them.

So, there you have it.  110 episodes ranked.  I’ll do a follow up tomorrow with all 110 listed out in one article with also a little write up on the show overall, and the experience of actually doing this ranking.

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. For not being a big reader, I sure devoured the hell out of this. Thank you for making this. It was a delight to read and digest and more often than not, I agreed, which was nice. It’s also nice to see the show from a writer’s perspective.

  2. taughttolie says:

    Just a little correction, for the sake of not wanting a beautiful thing to be even slightly sullied by a typo – you have Dan Harmon & Tristram Shapeero as the writers of the finale, when it was actually Harmon & McKenna.

    Thank you so much for doing this. I got to relive all my favorites through a new and interesting lens. I think I’ll check out the rest of your site now 🙂

  3. Tom Siebert says:

    Don’t agree with a lot of this, but how could anybody? Only real gripes are the putting the first paintball episode so low, the hilarious drug-awareness episode even lower, and the series finale — which was quite good, don’t get me wrong — as #1. Heck, it wasn’t even the best season finale (I’d go w/ S3, and I really have a warm spot for S5, frankly).

    Still, great effort, mostly well-written and argued, even when I didn’t agree. Thanks for your passionate work.

  4. Edward Taylor says:

    Thanks for writing all of this man. Agree with almost everything you said. Have a good life.

  5. Fantastic list. I know I don’t agree with everything but these are your choices and that’s cool. I’ll say one thing – your reasoning for knocking D&D all the way down to 6, because of Pierce being horrifyingly awful, did ring true to the way I felt at the time. I didn’t even know if I liked it when I first saw it! I know it’s way up the list now, definitely top 5. I want to do a ranking now. Nice work!

  6. really loved your ranking. I of course disagree with a lot of them but I loved your reasoning and really enjoyed your analysis of them. I 100% completely and totally agree with you about #1 though.

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