Tuesday, May 20, 2014

COMMUNITY - Season 3


Season Three Began September 22, 2011
*Click the episode title for a link to a full synopsis

22. Advanced Gay (C)
Pierce's homophobic father is just too cartoony and over the top, even for Community; a series that thrives on over the top characters like Chang and Dean Pelton. This is one of the worst overall episodes in the entire series.

Asian Annie is a bit of a recycle of White Abed and the writers fumble the idea here just as much as they did in "Physical Education." The whole model U.N. idea is a bit tone deaf to how the characters would act, but the secondary story of Britta challenging Chang's authority is well done.

A pretty mediocre episode with an atrocious final act. It gets a C+ because I like the story line of Shirley's sandwich shop and there are some pretty good jokes leading up to the wedding. The actual wedding finale is terribly written and one of the lowest points in the series.

The concept of going inside Abed's imagination through the dreamatorium is interesting but the execution is a bit uneven. 

Subway is awarded the sandwich shop instead of Shirley and Subway corporation even enrolls a student representative known as Subway into the school. Pretty average and forgettable episode. It also serves as a setup to the superior "Blankets and Pillows" episode.

Abed hiring celebrity impersonators isn't as funny as the episode thinks it is, but the episode is able to mine a few great moments from exploring Jeff's inflated ego after he begins taking anti-anxiety pills.

This is a pretty dark episode because it acknowledges the inherent selfishness of the study group. In that sense, it reminds me of the Seinfeld finale. Both episodes give the audience a chance to see how the groups selfish actions have led to the hurting of surrounding characters. Chang gets a nice detective side story in this episode as well.

Forget the Britta loves a carnie story, the real comedy is in the Chang and Pierce BFFs story. 

It's unfortunate that the Community writing squad never produced a great season finale. This episode, while doing a decent job giving the series a possible sendoff (they weren't sure if it was coming back), is underwhelming to say the least. Evil Abed trying to saw Jeff's arm off? Lame. I know that they weren't sure if they were going to be cancelled, but why didn't any season finale go for the obvious finale parody concept episode? 

13. Biology 101 (B)
There is a lot happening in season three's opening episode and it can feel a bit hit or miss with the several stories and gags that run throughout the episode. My favorite story, by far, is Jeff getting kicked out of the study group only to return after Pierce takes some blame for him. It's a nice redeeming moment for Pierce. The opening number is also a high point with a lot of ::wink wink:: jokes about the show's actual situation with the network.

This episode began a mini-story arc that would carry through to the end of the season. After inciting a riot at Starburns' funeral ceremony, the study group is kicked out of the school. Solid episode.

After getting kicked out of Greendale, the study group accompanies Abed to a counseling session where they are convinced (for a moment) that their entire experience was a shared delusion and they were actually mental patients. It functions as both a clips episode and a continuation of a mini-arc.

The Annie and Abed Dark Knight DVD story doesn't work too well, but the real joy of this episode is the surprisingly touching story between Shirley and Jeff. I'm surprised this connection didn't get mentioned by Abed in "Heroic Origins" in season four.

After Chang takes over the school and plots its destruction, the study group's attempt to stop Chang plays out like a great heist film. A solid episode that remains watchable despite its outlandish plot. I think with a bit of an adjustment, this episode would have made a more fitting end to the season than "Introduction to Finality."

Once you get past the setup, the Community gang in an 8-bit computer game is a lot of fun

I've read a lot of fan sites criticize this episode, but I think it's an incredibly clever way for a new take on a Halloween episode. The setup is that after taking Britta's psychology exams, the results show that one member of the group is a psychopath. To determine the psychopath, Britta gets each member to tell a scary story. Each story then becomes an insightful window into the character while also being a great comedic opportunity. It's not perfect, but it's a solid episode. 

I love this episode. I love how it takes a simple premise (moving Annie into Troy and Abed's apartment) and derives comedy not just from one-liners and offhand jokes, but from a clash of characters . Jeff and the Dean get an excellent secondary story as well.

5. Regional Holiday Music (A-)
Community's parody of Glee is so spot-on and so successful that it also pays homage to its best elements. The inclusion of an Invasion of the Body Snatchers like motif to show how the desire to get to glee club regionals becomes a virus is genius. The songs in the episode are both funny and smart, poking fun at the genre while thoroughly embracing it. Taran Killam is fantastic in his role as Professor Rad.  

The pillow vs. blanket fort story that began in "Digital Exploration of Interior Design" turns into all-out war in this concept episode in the style of a Ken Burns' Civil War documentary. There is a lot of funny stuff here, especially Britta's terrible photographer, Annie's field physician and Abed's letter explaining Troy's weaknesses. This is a classic Community episode.

This episode is genius. It's not the most accessible and its extremely dark, but it's also an amazing journey to watch Dean Pelton's simple quest to make a new Greendale commercial turn into an Apocalpyse Now descent into darkness. Everyone gets a great part to play in this story, but Dean Pelton steals the entire episode. This is really his best moment and a showcase of how Community wasn't afraid to give an entire episode to one of its supporting cast.

The best episode of Law and Order that isn't actually an episode of Law and Order. The writers absolutely nail this one. They get everything about Law and Order right here: the intro,  the language, the cadence, the glances, the courtroom surprises, and even the final moment shocker. Everything here is so well done that it doesn't play as parody but as complete homage. It's essential viewing for all Community fans. 

I think this is Community's finest episode and one of the greatest television episodes of all-time. Everything I love about the show can be found in this one episode. The story is centered around the idea of watching seven different time lines play out depending on who has to leave the apartment to get pizza. Have you ever wondered how a group gets along when you are not there? Well, the basic concept of this episode allows the writers to explore how the group plays out when one member is removed. How the writers continue actions or present new actions in each timeline presents its own unique food for thought, but its the final timeline (the removal of Jeff) that provides the most insightful and heartwarming scene of the entire show.
I don't want to spoil any of the surprises for anyone, but if you watch this one episode enough times, it reveals the strengths and weaknesses of every character and most notably, how the presence of other characters draws out or covers over those strengths and weaknesses. It has all the requisite comedy of other episodes, but stands above them all by striking a real heartwarming nerve by the end. It's a masterpiece.   

Season 3 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.

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