Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. The official topic this week is about favourite bookstores, which, while interesting, isn’t something I can really contribute to. So, I went rogue again and come up with another list to do. Luckily, I was inspired by some recent news about the upcoming Community film and so I thought I would do something I have been thinking about for a while and list my top ten favourite Community episodes.
I have been a massive fan of the television series Community since it first aired. Thanks to its amazing and very talented cast, fantastic blend of outrageous characters, compelling storylines and the chaotic setting of Greendale Community College, Dan Harmon’s Community became an instant favourite for me. The writers really came up with some distinctive and extremely clever storylines for this show, which the cast dove into with gusto, bringing joy with every outing. Despite a lack-lustre fourth season, this series was pretty damn amazing, and I would say it was one of the cleverest and most inventive sitcoms in recent memories. Because of this, fans have been eager for some sort of follow up to the show ever since it ended in 2015, and #SixSeasonsandaMovie has become a major rallying cry for many. Well, they just announced they are finally giving us a Community movie, and while it is still early days, I thought I would be proactive and dive into the ten Community episodes I loved the most.
While nearly every episode was special and entertaining, there were some that stood out more than others, whether they had the best performances, the most interesting storylines, or because they had the best insane concepts. I can think of at least 20 Community episodes off the top of my head that pretty damn spectacular, and I have seen all of them multiple times. So, I went about listing these top episodes and then had the very hard task of whittling this down to my absolute favourite ten episodes. I was eventually able to do this, although it did require me to include a pretty massive honourable mentions list as well (six honourable mentions is probably a bit too much, but it’s my blog so I’ll allow it). Everyone entry in the list below is, in my opinion, one of the absolute best Community episodes out there, and are well worth a watch if you want something entertaining to keep you occupied. So let us see what made the cut.
Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design – Season 2, Episode 9
A very fun episode which combines an elaborate conspiracy theory with two friends attempt to build a massive blanket fort. Jeff and Annie’s chemistry as they work through the absurd conspiracy they find themselves in is brilliant, and you have to love that elaborate series of double-crosses at the end. Special mention to guest star Kevin Corrigan, who really helped bring everything together.
Documentary Filmmaking: Redux – Season 3, Episode 8
The Dean goes crazy while attempting to create the ultimate Greendale commercial and takes everyone else down with him. You have to love the outstanding performance from Jim Rash as he gets progressively more unhinged, and the fantastic reactions from the rest of cast brings out some amazing humour, especially in that hugging scene between Britta and Troy.
Pillows and Blankets, Season 3, Episode 14
An elaborate pillow war breaks out on campus and filmed in a style reminiscent of a Civil War documentary narrated by Keith David. Need I say more?
Digital Estate Planning – Season 3, Episode 20
The study group goes 8-bit in this homage to classic video games when Pierce is forced to contest his inheritance against the sinister Gilbert Lawson played by the always outstanding Giancarlo Esposito. Brilliantly styled and brought together in a completely new medium, Digital Estate Planning is a firm favourite of mine and a guaranteed laugh.
Geothermal Escapism – Season 5, episode 5
Another fun, campus-wide escapade, this time brought about by Abed initiating a massive game of “The Floor is Lava” to farewell a departing Troy. While these shenanigans were getting a little played out by this point in the series, this was still a very fun episode, especially as everyone once again goes all-out with extra levels commitment and over-the-top roleplaying in a very short amount of time. Throw in a perfect goodbye to the departing Donald Glover, and this is a key and heartfelt episode that is always a great watch.
Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television – Season 6, Episode 13
Very few shows managed a finale as well as Community with Emotional Consequence of Broadcast Television. An emotionally rich episode that wraps up several relationships and storylines, Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television masterfully brings the show to an end, while also making fun of itself with a series of self-referential and meta jokes. The best scenes involve Jeff and Annie finally having their much-needed heart-to-heart, and the emotional farewell to Annie and Abed at the end. Throw in a final call for a sequel movie that has inspired watchers for years, and this episode ended on a perfect final note.
Top Ten List:
Contemporary American Poultry – Season 1, Episode 21
Let’s start this list off with a real zinger, with Contemporary American Poultry. Only a show as chaotic and fun as Community could take fried chicken and turn it into an elaborate and heartfelt gangster story. Contemporary American Poultry sees the study group continually disappointed by the lack of their favourite food in the cafeteria, chicken fingers, which are being pilfered by Star-Burns. Enraged, Jeff manages to convince the study group to take over the business, resulting in Abed imagining the story as a classic gangster film. With Abed taking over as the cafeteria’s new fry cook, the group manages to leverage their sudden chicken abundance into control of the school. However, things take an interesting turn when Abed ousts Jeff from his accustomed leadership position, only to have to then deal with a spoiled and power-hungry study group. There are so many fun elements to this episode, from the amazing story, the clever homages to some of the great gangster films, the deep look at both Jeff and Abed as they both face some major personal difficulties in this episode. One of my favourite episodes from the first season, Contemporary American Poultry definitely stood out as an early classic of this series.
Modern Warfare – Season 1, Episode 23
I think the episode that let everyone know just how awesome Community could be was the brilliant and action-packed Modern Warfare that was shot out near the end of the first season. This episode sees Greendale descend into anarchy when everyone takes a game of paintball assassin way too seriously. Every character gets in on the competition, all to gain the prize, and what results is a hilarious and over-the-top homage to classic action movies with some amazing scenes. At the same time, the long-simmering tension between Jeff and Britta is finally realised in explosive fashion. Throw in the insane Señor Chang who brings some massive weaponry to the fight, and you have a brilliant classic that would set the standard for crazy episodes in the future.
Anthropology 101 – Season 2, Episode 1
Following the success of season one, the creators came back with an even more impressive second season, which contained more outstanding and memorable episodes than any other (half my list is from season 2). Anthropology 101 starts this series off in a big way, perfectly following on from the cliff-hanger ending of the first season. Jeff is forced to deal with an upset Britta after running away from her declaration of love, while also trying to hide that he made out with an obsessed Annie. When the school’s women raise Britta up as a heroine, she and Jeff embark on a game of romantic chicken, which results in an outstanding impromptu wedding sequence that ends violently. This was a great episode that showed the continued evolution of the group, as well as how unwholesome their relationships could get. Throw in a brilliant performance from guest star Betty White as the new anthropology lecturer, who delivers one hell of an ass-kicking, and this proves to be an excellent start to the show’s best season.
Cooperative Calligraphy – Season 2, Episode 8
Few lists about Community are completed without a shout-out to the wildly entertaining and self-referential bottle episode, Cooperate Calligraphy. After one of Annie’s pens goes missing, she demands its return, resulting in the group descending into paranoia as they try to work out which of them is a pen thief. After all attempts to resolve the situation calmly fail, Jeff initiates a bottle episode lockdown to uncover the truth. The subsequent investigations results in secrets being revealed and the group losing all coherence in a series of bizarre encounters. Remarkably silly, this was such a well-written episode that allowed the characters to shine in the most mundane of situations. One of the best sitcom bottle episodes out there, this was an extremely funny episode that is a must watch for all Community viewers.
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons – Season 2, Episode 14
While the next entry is a tad controversial, due to a certain dark elf, this is still an amazing episode that really stands out amongst the other excellent season 2 episodes. As the name suggests, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is all about the classic fantasy tabletop roleplaying game, Dungeons & Dragons, as the study group attempts to help the often-mocked Fat Neil. Initiating a game with Abed as dungeon master, the group attempt to build up Neil’s confidence, while the usual shenanigans ensue as the group encounters Abed’s over-the-top approach to the game. However, a darkness appears on the horizon when Pierce (also known as Pierce the Dickish), takes out his anger at being excluded on Neil. Entering full villain mode, Pierce attempts to ruin everything, while also revealing who came up with the nickname Fat Neil. Hilarious, intense, and surprisingly moving, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons is pretty spectacular and a lot of fun to both fans of Dungeons & Dragons and the non-initiated, especially when the group emulate the action going on within the game. Chevy Chase particularly shines in this episode with his great portrayal of the enraged Pierce, while Alison Brie steals the show with her character’s seduction of an elf-maiden (the reactions of the various characters as Annie describes her seduction is perfect, and I loved how the covering music made it seem even more graphic). An extremely hilarious episode, if this doesn’t make you want to try out Dungeons & Dragons, nothing will.
Paradigms of Human Memory – Season 2, Episode 21
In most television series, clip show episodes are generally considered the very worst entries, especially when they rehash prior episodes to loosely tell a story. Community did this in a very different manner for the second season standout, Paradigms of Human Memory, which see the study group reminiscing about the past year after the hoard of the monkey, Annie’s Boobs, is discovered (it makes sense in context). Rather than using material from the previous episodes however, a series of new clips are presented instead, showing the group in some hilarious situations. All manner of scenarios are contained here, including a racist ghost town, a tragic takeover of the glee club, and Abed’s obsession with new show The Cape. These new scenes are all pretty fun and amazing in their own right, but they also come together perfectly to show the full chaotic nature of the group, while also revealing the secret affair between Jeff and Britta. The combination of these scenes is pretty amazing, especially as it features one of the best Jeff Winger speeches, that mixes together multiple, previously unseen speeches (which cover a range of subjects including Mexican Cartels, free salads, The Cape and mercury poisoning) combined into a single elaborate sequence which saves the day. An overall exceptional episode that makes full use of its concept, this is one of the top episodes out there and easily the best clip show episode ever made. An easy inclusion on this list, especially as it is the one that coined the rallying cry, “Six Seasons and a Movie”.
A Fistful of Paintballs/For a Few Paintballs More – Season 2, Episodes 23 and 24
You can’t talk about Community without discussing the second round of paintball episodes, with the final two episodes of the second season, A Fistful of Paintballs and For a Few Paintballs More. Now you must combine these two episodes together, as they form a joint arc, which is pretty damn perfect. The first episode, A Fistful of Paintballs, sees the cast embrace their inner cowboy when a mysterious ice cream company engineers another over-the-top paintball competition for an even bigger prize. Everyone goes all out in this western-themed fight, and the study group is forced to face off against the mysterious Black Rider while Jeff and Pierce battle it out for control of the group. After a fun conclusion, the story devolves into a Star Wars-esque story when the ice cream company is revealed to be from the rival City College, who invade Greendale dressed like storm troopers. This results in another fantastic and fun action filled jaunt which sees the Greendale students face off against City College in a winner take all scenario. Loaded with great jokes, some fantastic paint-filled sequences, and some clever homages to Star Wars, For a Few Paintballs More wraps up everything perfectly, including a great redemption arc for Pierce that ends the story on a surprisingly bittersweet note. Never has paintball been as fun as this, and these two episodes not only surpassed Modern Warfare, but also acted as the perfect ending to an outstanding second season.
Remedial Chaos Theory – Season 3, Episode 4
I just had to include the standout third season episode, Remedial Chaos Theory on this list. Rightly considered the very best episode that Community ever did, Remedial Chaos Theory is an elaborate and simply brilliant episode that is one of the most unique bits of television ever created. The episode is set around Troy and Abed’s housewarming party for their new apartment. When the pizza arrives, Jeff contrives a seemingly fair way to find out who gets it by throwing a die into the air. However, this has the unexpected consequence of creating six separate timelines as the episode shows what happens when each member of the group goes out to grab the pizza. This turns into another great bottle episode as you see what happens to the remaining members of the study group in the party with each person gone. The resulting alternate versions of events are all pretty hilarious and clever, including normal group interactions, romantic revelations and massive conflicts, all of which could shape the future group in very different ways. However, the standout is the surprisingly traumatic “darkest timeline” in which everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. It all ends with the best, prime timeline where Jeff’s trick is revealed, and everyone comes together in the very best of ways. All seven timelines are great alone, but the real beauty of this episode is the similarities and differences that the timelines have to each other, and the compelling examination of how a simple roll of a die can change everything. A perfect episode that makes full use of the cast and presents the viewer with an outstanding and well-thought-out concept.
Cooperative Polygraphy – Season 5, Episode 4
Another brilliant episode that takes place completely in the study room, Cooperative Polygraphy sees the group reeling from the death of Pierce. However, their grief takes a new turn when Pierce’s lawyer shows up with a final task from Pierce that forces everyone to answer a series of questions while wearing polygraph machinery. Soon everyone’s secrets come out, and there are some hilarious revelations that show just how disfunction the group is and how well Pierce can manipulate them, even from beyond the grave. The fantastic reactions to the various secrets is perfect, as the group slowly implodes as they become aware of all the dark things they have done to each other. However, this episode ends on quite a sweet note as it is eventually revealed that Pierce did all this to bring them together, and he has some touching final gifts for them (pun intended). While loaded with humour, this was actually quite a nice way to say goodbye to the amazing character of Pierce, even after Chevy Chase’s negative exit from the show. Throw in the heart-breaking final moments as Troy is given his out from Greendale, and the realisation that the study group would never be complete again, and this episode hits hard even while it leaves you laughing. There was a reason this was the episode the cast recently did a table-read for, and you have to love how many crazy secrets this group of characters can have.
Advanced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons – Season 5, Episode 10
I honestly didn’t think it was possible to top Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, but they sure showed me with Advanced Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. This fantastic episode sees Jonathan Bank’s Professor Buzz Hickey recruit the Save Greendale committee to help him bond with his estranged son Hank Hickey (played by excellent guest star David Cross) through Dungeons & Dragons. With Abed once again acting as dungeon master, the more confident group begins the game, only to face opposition from the bitter Hank. Thanks to a falling bridge, the group is soon split between the two Hickey’s and must try and help their respective team leader win. This results in a massive and over-the-top battle between the characters, which has some absolutely hilarious moments to it, as well as a perfect and realistic conclusion to this amazing story. There are so many great moments in this episode including the Dean’s constant attempts to get Jeff to stroke his sword, that brutal interrogation scene of two Hobgoblins by Tiny Nuggins (Waterboarder of Goblins), that great final battle, and Abed’s reasoning behind why the evil necromancer ran away (wouldn’t you), will have you rolling in stiches. I honestly think this episode matches up to, if not surpasses the original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, and this is probably the episode I rewatch the most.
Well, that is the end of this latest list. As you can see, I have some strong opinions about this show and I have a lot of love for the above episodes in particular. All these episodes rank amongst the very best that Community had to offer, and I love how they turned out and the entertaining stories and concepts they encapsulate. While my list was a little predictable in places, and a bit weighted towards the second season, I honestly think this represents my absolute favourite Community episodes, and I cannot rave about them enough. I am super excited for the Community movie when it comes out, but in the meantime, let me know which Community episode is your favourite in the comments below. And remember, we finally succeeded in getting #SixSeasonsandaMovie.
One thought on “Top Ten Tuesday – My Favourite Community Episodes”
Hello to a fellow Community fan. Yeah, that show was fantastic. I can’t wait for the film.
My post: https://lydiaschoch.com/top-ten-tuesday-fictional-bookstores-id-love-to-visit/
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