Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Top 5: Community Episodes

It's no secret on this blog that I consider Community to be one of the best shows around. Therefore, I took upon myself to outline my personal Top 5 episodes from the show for your reading pleasure. With over 80 episodes to pick from, choosing five favourites hasn't been a simple task (hell, I did it before with The Simpsons and there are over 500 over those) but I got there in the end. 

I've included some honourable mentions as well as a (*gulp*) worst episode. Give 'em a read and let me know what you think in the comments section below.

You can read my review of Community Season 1 here.

Ugh, you're the worst - Contemporary Impressionists (Season 3, Episode 11)

I'm not really sure what's up with this episode but it glaringly stands out as one of the weakest of the show

The study group try to deal with Abed's debt issues as it turns out he has been hiring out celebrity impersonators to play out iconic movie scenes with him in real-life.

Some elements work pretty well (Troy and Britta dressing up as both ends of the Michael Jackson spectrum is funny) but others fall really flat. What's up with that lame apple graphic? Why does Chang have thought-bubbles pop up all of a sudden?

Also, I didn't find Jeff's storyline very engaging. His ego is going to explode? Haven't we got past that whole thing after the first two seasons? 

It's still a fairly key episode as it starts to show the fall-out Troy and Abed will have later in the season. On the whole, the episode didn't strike me as a classic and purely seems like another excuse to put on some wacky costumes.

The Top 5 

5th - Studies of Modern Movement (Season 3, Episode 7)

"Hashtag Annies' Move"
Quite a simple premise this one; Annie is moving in with Troy and Abed but is concerned that living with them will cause her to get tired of their antics. Britta and Shirley butt heads over religious values. Pierce opts to fix a crack in Annie's wall and ends up inhaling paint fumes whilst Jeff fakes an illness in order to get out of helping with Annie's move but bumps into the Dean at the mall and is forced to spend the day with him.

What I love about this episode is that, despite the fairly simplistic plot strands, it's all executed in a way that makes me laugh lots. And lots.

For starters, Troy and Abed are at their weird best; from their incessant tweeting (#AnniesMove) to taping each other to the back of the bathroom door, they really do make a great case for the 'most irritating room mates of the year award'.  It all comes good in the end however with a nice bout of shadow puppetry and some good characterisation for Annie, Abed and Troy.

On the whole, a solid premise that is carried out perfectly. And who didn't laugh themselves silly when the Dean roped Jeff into a heart-felt rendition of 'Kiss from a Rose'?

4th - Debate 109 (Season 1, Episode 9)

Jeff and Annie plan their debating strategy
With the show still finding its feet in Season 1, 'Debate 109' is an episode that has a simple premise played out really well.

Jeff and Annie enter into the college debating team and are pitched against snooty rivals City College and a fairly arrogant, disabled student called Jeremy.

Meanwhile, Troy and Shirley discover that Abed has been filming a sitcom that chronicles the lives of the study group using similar-looking actors (Pierce of course mistakes his doppelgänger for someone else by exclaiming "hey, who's that idiot!") and the resemblance between reality and the fake sitcom begins to worry them; Shirley even goes as far to brand Abed "a witch!" and "an evil wizard".

Also, Britta is becoming increasingly tetchy about quitting smoking and enlists the help of Pierce, who thinks he knows hypnotherapy (which of course he doesn't).

All in all, the episode does everything brilliantly. It isn't a stand-out episode for its creativity (the premise is a regular one within school-based sitcoms) but for its execution instead. The script dazzles (as always) and the characters are really beginning to hit their stride by this point in the show. It's the first time we are given a glimpse of the ongoing Jeff/Annie romance as well as showing us a lot more of Abed's meta-obsessed character.

3rd - A Fistfull of Paintballs/For A Few Paintballs More (Season 2, Episodes 23 & 24)

The Wild West scenario at work
The season 2 finale really exemplifies one of things fans love so much about Community; parody and genre episodes that commit whole-heartedly to the premise and run with it.

Case in point; the fantastic opening titles to the first part which, much like the title, is like something ripped straight from a Sergio Leone Western.

The study group are also one by one introduced with hilarious playing card themed intros like 'Ace of Hearts' (Annie) and 'King of Clubs' (Troy) that come complete with bell chime and gunshot sound-effects.

Then, the second episode drops the Western motif and switches up to a Star Wars one ("I know, I wish we'd done it sooner too" remarks Abed). 

In this two-part episode, Greendale is once again thrown into chaos by a gigantic paint-ball fight between the students and eventually, that pesky City College. Pierce goes from villain to hero and gives the season a fitting end by not being overly schmultzy. Troy gets a good arc that sees him take the lead and Annie and Abed (as Han Solo) get a funny 'romance' plot-line.

On the whole, probably one of the best genre episodes that Community has done along with 'Advanced Dungeons and Dragons' (which sends up fantasy/Lord of the Rings) and 'Contemporary American Poultry' (gangster movies). 

2nd - Remedial Chaos Theory (Season 3, Episode 3)

This one just had to be on here didn't it? 'Remedial Chaos Theory', the episode that takes the show from great to fanbloodytastic. 

The premise is both simple and complicated; the group are at Troy and Abed's apartment for a house warming party. They order pizza and when it arrives, Jeff suggests they roll a dice to decide who walks downstairs to collect it.

Abed points out that this creates six alternate timelines where the dice lands on a different number and somebody different has to go and collect the pizza in each one. The show then proceeds to show us each of these alternate timelines and see how the situation plays out differently each time. 

Not only is this episode hugely creative and funny, it also works really well as a character study; by removing one character, each timeline is like a half-hour 'spot the difference'. In one Shirley has a "nervous breakdown", Jeff and Annie make-out in another and Pierce is shot in the leg in the 'darkest timeline'. Yeah, things got a little out of hand in that one...

Just watch it, okay? It's seriously clever.

1st - Co-operative Calligraphy (Season 2, Episode 8)

"I'm doing a bottle episode!"
Ahh yes, the infamous bottle episode that makes a point of telling everyone it's a bottle episode. I'm not even sure I knew what a bottle episode before this episode...

So the premise is fairly simple; Annie goes ape-shit when she realises that another one of her pens has gone missing. She accuses the study group of stealing them and demands that the perpetrator step forward and confess. Except, they don't. 

No-one comes forward and the group decide to confine themselves to the study room until someone fesses up. All the while, there's a cute puppy parade going on in the quad that everyone is missing out on. So, who stole the pen?

Well, that's the question isn't it? Both the character and the audience have no idea, so watching the tensions rise and the clothes come off (yep, they all strip search one another) is hilarious. Dan Harmon took a really simple premise and expanded it into 23 minutes of witty, self-aware comedy that also has some damn fine acting. Like Abed says, bottle episodes are just "wall to wall facial expression and emotional nuance" and the cast pull it off well.

This episode is also home to some the best one-liners in the whole show including "I'll make your ass sense" (Shirley), "Nice try, Stephen Fry" (Pierce) and "I want to see if those Weiner dogs are born that way or if or they start off normal, and then get Weiner" (Troy).

Oh, and we finally got some more details on the fate of Annie's boobs! The monkey that is...

Honorary mentions: 'Advanced Dungeons and Dragons'(S2, E14), 'Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design' (S2, E9) , 'Introduction to Film' (S1, E3), 'Celebrity Pharmacology 212' (S2, E13).

So there we have it, my Top 5 episodes from Community. Let me know what you think in the comments section below! 


  1. I would say Season 3 Ep 17 Basic Lupine Urology deserve in the top 5!

    1. Good call! Love that episode, really well written and clever with the Law and Order style premise. Thanks for commenting!

    2. couldn't agree more. That episode was in my head the second i read the title of this list. Sorry but I heavily disagree with the #1. But hey, everyone's got they're own opinions :)

    3. That's cool, thanks for commenting! :) That's the thing, picking just five was always going exclude some real gems. Hopefully Season 5 will be so good I'll have to do a redo of this list!



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