Monday, May 19, 2014

COMMUNITY - Season 2


Season Two Began September 23, 2010
*Click the episode title for a link to a full synopsis

24. Competitive Wine Tasting (C+)
Pierce and Troy's stories are lackluster, but Abed's class on "Who's the Boss" steals the show and saves this episode form a  C.

23. Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples (C+)
Like the previous episode, the central story (Abed's messianic complex) doesn't click, but the episode is saved by a genuinely memorable secondary story. Pierce joining Leonard and his gang of senior citizens is really funny and the only reason to re-watch this episode.

This might be the perfect example of a completely mediocre episode of Community. Nothing fails to fully click here, but nothing is really that memorable either. In the end, its funny but not notable for much. 

The highlight of the episode is Chang and Duncan going to Jeff's apartment to watch football and it turning into a big party.

Following on the heels of the previous episode, Chang tries to "chang" his ways and become a model father for Shirley's baby. I really enjoyed this min-arc they gave to Chang in season 2.

The secret trampoline episode where Pierce gets his broken legs. For some reason, this episode feels to me like it belonged in season one. Some funny stuff, especially the revelation of the gardener as a racist.

One of a few episodes where Jeff is forced to confront his old life as a lawyer. A good episode containing an absolute comedic gem in the chloroform sequence.

Rich makes a return and competes with Chang as the group looks to add a member to the group. Good episode.

Community does Apollo 13. Unlike "Contemporary American Poultry" and "Modern Warfare" this conceptual episode is more imitation than appropriation. It still works for some good laughs, but not nearly as well as its reputation suggests.

The one where Shirley has her baby during class. Just a solid all-around episode with Chang and Dean Pelton getting some great moments to shine.

As much unnecessary trouble as he caused on set, it's rather ironic that Chevy Chase's Pierce often provided the necessary foil that to many of the shows episodes. Pierce is in top form here using his role as "drugs" in a educational play for children to become a hero to the kids. It's only topped by Chang's hilarious 180 as he takes over the role of drugs.

Known to me as the one where Betty White goes crazy and almost kills Jeff. None of the story lines in this one are anything to write home about, but this season opener is funny from beginning to end. 

I like this episode, but think it's a bit overrated by Community fans. They do a great job getting a lot out of the Dungeons and Dragons setting, but the "Save Fat Neil" theme just doesn't work. I generally like Pierce as a foil, but he's a bit over the top in this episode going to a place where it's almost unbelievable that he remains with the group after this episode. Still, there is a lot to like here. 

One of the forgotten gems of Community. Vice President Biden's visit to campus means that an impromptu political election must be held and a hilarious political battle between Greendale candidates ensues.

10. Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas (B+)
It's not perfect and the Community fan community seem to give it a lot of flack,  but I think the creative team got a lot right with this claymation episode. This is the kind of creative risk that really distinguished this series from so many others.

9. Critical Film Studies (B+)
My first viewing didn't live up to the episode's massive reputation, but after several views I have come to appreciate it for what it is. I am alright with the use of concepts (like the My Dinner with Andre setting), but I'm not okay with boring and I always seem to get bored as Abed goes into his extended story about being on the set of Cougar Town. I'm sure it has something to do with My Dinner with Andre, but it's still no excuse for an extended sequence that makes viewers lose interest. That being said, there is a lot of other great stuff in this episode.    

The impact of season one's "Modern Warfare" was so strong that the writers returned to the paintball well for this season's two-part finale.  This round they play out a western and star wars motif on the backdrop of the Greendale and City College rivalry. Not as groundbreaking as the original paintball episode, but it's still a hilarious and well-made.

The best parodies find a way to mock their subject while also acknowledging the reason its subject is so popular. This episode of Community successfully achieves that balance in its parody of The Office style sitcoms. Unlike "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons," they are also able to find the right balance between presenting Pierce as an annoying jerk, but also someone we can empathize with. On top of that, this episode contains Troy's incredible reaction to Levar Burton.

5. Cooperative Calligraphy (A-)
The bottle episode that's aware it's a bottle episode. The missing pen setup doesn't fully work (I know its supposed to be silly), but the writing in this episode is incredibly strong and funny. 

4. Epidemiology (A)
When Dean Pelton accidentally serves biohazard military rations at the school Halloween party, everyone begins turning into zombies. This is the best Halloween episode the series produced.

3. Mixology Certification (A) 
This is one of those rare TV episodes that are truly able to surprise you. Jeff and Britta's competition to give Troy the best 21st birthday drinking moment provides one of the shows most honest and insightful moments. I am still surprised by how brave it was for the show to illustrate the empty hype and image posturing that goes with much of drinking culture. This episode is willing to go to some sad places, but it's really worth it. 

2. Paradigms of Human Memory (A)
Nearly every show eventually resorts to using a "clips" episode where characters sit around remembering funny moments which are then played back through clips from previous episodes. Community's version of a clip show is to remember moments from the past season that were actually never moments in previous episodes. Sometimes they are moments to fill out previous episodes and other times they are just completely new. The real genius is that the clips eventually connect with the story in the episode and are wrapped up in a great montage of Jeffrey speeches. It's a popular episode among Community fans, but I think it deserves even more recognition. It also includes one of my absolute favorite bits in the entire series.

1. Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design (A)
I love this episode so much. I won't say too much about it for fear of spoiling any of its surprises. The episode contains the first of Troy and Abed's epic blanket forts, including a hilarious chase scene through it. It also feature the second best final act of the entire series and Dean Pelton really gets a chance to shine and completely steal the scene. This is easily my favorite episode of season 2.  

Season 2 By the Numbers:

What do you think? Do I have right to be confident about my rankings, or is it a good thing I'm holding them lightly? Feel free to comment below.


1 comments:

Peggy said...

I am only two seasons in, but so far I pretty much agree with your listing. However, I would have scored higher for the D&D episode. I love the interaction between Jeff & Neil, especially when compared with Jeff's later admissions to Abed in the "My Dinner with Andre" scene. I like seeing Jeff through a new, more human light.

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