Tomorrow may see the airing of the final episode of one of my favorite shows, Community. In light of this, I’d like to share with you some of my favorite episodes, and tell you why I enjoy them so much. Some will be heartfelt, others just hilarious. Let’s go!
Introduction to Film (Season One, Episode Three)
Some of my favorite Community episodes are about getting into Abed’s head and figuring out what makes him tick. This is the first of such episodes. In it, Britta agrees to pay for Abed’s film classes when his father refuses. Her vote of confidence in his future seems to go to his head. Over the course of the episode, the communication challenges faced by both Abed and his father are revealed through the short film he has been secretly creating.
Environmental Science (Season One, Episode Ten)
The main plot of this episode revolves around Señor Chang going overboard in assigning homework and Jeff’s attempts to get him to lighten up. It’s a clever tale that fleshes out Chang’s character a bit, but the real gem is the musical montage toward the end of the episode. Between Chang getting his groove back and Shirley getting the confidence to speak in public, we are treated to a celtic-rock duet cover of Somewhere Out There by Troy and Abed.
It is amazing.
The Science of Illusion (Season One, Episode Twenty)
This episode delves into Pierce’s off-the-wall religion, Laser Lotus Buddhism. It may or may not be a cult. Or a scam. It’s probably both. Troy and Jeff take advantage of Pierce's fasting-related delusions to hilarious effect.
While Jeff and Troy are messing with Pierce, Shirley and Annie become security guards for a day and try to out-crazy each other.
Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design (Season Two, Episode Nine)
While performing a random spot check (read: stalking Jeff) Dean Pelton discovers he is registered for a nonexistent night school course(Conspiracy Theories in US History) taught by a nonexistent teacher(Professor Professorson). Jeff takes his denial to the extreme, only to discover someone else is in on his deception.
While Jeff and Annie delve deeper and deeper into this mystery, Troy and Abed build a massive pillow fort.
This very well may be the greatest episode of the entire series. It is loaded with fantastic retorts and absurd situations. My favorite exchange? When Britta mocks Troy and Abed’s pillow fort, claiming she has something more “grown-up to do,” Troy responds with “Enjoy eating fiber and watching The Mentalist.”
Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (Season Two, Episode Fourteen)
Jeff realizes that a classmate, Neil, is rooted in a deep depression. He gathers the study group to break Neil out of the funk by playing his favorite role-playing game. This episode balances the saccharine subject matter with parodies of Lord of the Rings and some fantastic role reversal. Pierce plays a fantastic antagonist in this episode. Show creator Dan Harmon fought hard to get this episode made; NBC fought against it simply because of the concept.
Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking (Season Two, Episode Sixteen)
This episode is just okay. Then LeVar Burton shows up and steals the show.
Paradigms of Human Memory (Season Two, Episode Twenty-One)
I am not a fan of clip shows. The only one I’ve ever liked is The Simpsons’ All Singing, All Dancing. Community flips the clip show concept on its head by revisiting moments in the characters lives that did not occur on the show. It also takes a shot at the idea of YouTube fan videos like this one and includes one of the show’s many digs at Glee.
Studies in Modern Movement (Season Three, Episode Seven)
Annie moves in with Troy and Abed. This episode marks the first appearance of The Dreamatorium. We also learn that the opposite color Kool-Aid does not remove stains, which is very important.
Regional Holiday Music (Season Three, Episode Ten)
Community takes its dislike of Glee to the next level by getting the entire study group obsessed with regionals. I guess there is some requirement that any show with more than two seasons has to do a musical episode?
Origins of Vampire Mythology (Season Three, Episode Fifteen)
Britta has an embarrassing on-again-off-again love affair with a selfish loser named Blade. Jeff wants to understand why and becomes obsessed with figuring out how Blade does it. Annie takes Britta under her wing to keep her from repeating the mistake of sleeping with Blade every time he is in town. Troy gets Britta to lose interest in Blade by sending a fake “nice-guy” text from Blade's number.
The moment that makes it for me is at the very end, when Britta realizes where the message actually came from.
Virtual Systems Analysis (Season Three, Episode Sixteen)
Another Abed-centric episode. Annie spends time in The Dreamatorium with Abed, discovers his process for relating to people and attempts to adjust it, with disastrous results. Danny Pudi gets a chance to play several characters on the show. Pierce also provides a great mnemonic device for remembering how animals are categorized(Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species): “Kevin, Please Come Over For Gay Sex.”
Digital Estate Planning (Season Three, Episode Twenty)
The study group play a video game designed by Pierce’s father in order to determine who gets his inheritance. The game featured in this episode is so awesome that fans are actually trying to make it.
The Greendale Seven Series (Season Three, Episodes Seventeen through Nineteen, and Twenty-One to Twenty-Two)
These episodes bleed together. The first, Basic Lupine Urology, is mostly a fun Law & Order spoof, but it ends with an event that leads to chaos at Greendale Community College. The next episode, Course Listing Unavailable, leads to the study group being rebranded The Greendale Seven and expelled, while Chang takes over the campus. The episode after that, Curriculum Unavailable, shows us the aftermath of the expulsion, as the Greendale Seven undergo group therapy.
In episode twenty-one, The First Chang Dynasty, The Greendale Seven plot an elaborate, Ocean’s Eleven-style heist to wrench Greendale away from Chang. Finally, the season finale, Introduction to Finality, flashes forward to find the study group completing summer school.
The final episode in this season was written so that it could be a series finale if it needed to be, and it pushes a great deal of character growth into a small space. It also revisits The Darkest Timeline, an excellent concept from an episode not in this list.
If I’m being honest, the fourth season of Community has not been great. The massive change in creative direction the show took after creator Dan Harmon was forced out shows. It was only contracted for thirteen episodes, and NBC pushed back its premiere by several months, making it air out of sync with the time of year the episodes were intended to appear. It’s still funny, and I’m still watching it, but only two episodes really stand out: the first, Conventions of Space, which takes place almost entirely at an Inspector Spacetime convention.
(Inspector Spacetime is Community's version of Doctor Who, and the parodies are awesome)
The second, Time and Basic Human Anatomy, spoofs body-swapping comedies and gives further insight into the close friendship Abed and Troy share.
The future of Community is uncertain. If there is to be a fifth season, I'll happily watch it, and will appreciate my good fortune. If this is to be the last season, I hope it wraps up nicely. There's nothing worse than a great story with no ending.