COMMUNITY - Season 5

Season Three Began January 2, 2014
*Click the episode title for a link to a full synopsis

13. Basic Story (C-)
The first half of season five's two-part finale is the worst episode of the entire series. You can see some of the ideas the writers were attempting to execute in this episode, but nearly EVERYTHING they do lands flat or completely misses. The episode is so unusual and unlike everything else Community has done that something amiss behind the scenes must have taken place. I can think of no other explanation. Although I love the show, it was this episode that made me realize the show has fully run its course. Not even a buried treasure dance brings redemption to this episode. Okay, this moment is pretty good though.
12. Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality (C+)
This episode felt like a lot of wheel-spinning and trying to figure out what to do now that both Pierce and Troy were no longer on the show. Their answer was to involve newcomer Prof. Hickey, Chang, and returning Prof. Duncan into more central roles. While there is some funny stuff going on here, eventually you realize that you are watching supporting side characters (who were never focal points) getting central story lines. It's not necessarily a bad thing, it just made Community feel like it had entered into different territory.

11. VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing (C+)
The good news is that they actually do some follow-up on Abed's girlfriend from "Herstory of Dance" in season four. The bad news is that they give her little to do and we then never see anything from her again. This is an episode with two major story lines, where neither is terrible, but neither really works that well either. Still, it's a good episode just not great by Community's standards.

10. Basic Sandwich (C+)
The second half of the series finale brings some redemption to the series' worst episode, but not much. It felt like this two part finale was the writers choosing to just use the entire story line as a commentary on how they felt NBC treated the show. While that element is there to add some interesting layers, they failed to produce as strong a sendoff (story and humor wise) as they could have. I still contend that "Heroic Origins" is the greatest series finale the show produced...that wasn't actually a series finale.
9. Analysis of Cork-Based Networking (B-)
A decent episode, but the writers are still struggling to give Abed something substantial to do after the departure of Troy. I generally liked Annie and Hickey getting into the depths of Greendale networking, but the Bear Dance Fat Dog for Midterms story is extremely hit and miss. I like the idea, but Jeff basically going along with the whole thing and putting up with Chang's antics felt very un-Jeff like. A decent outing.

8. Advanced Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (B)
Community's return to the dungeons and dragons well is a solid episode featuring David Cross. It's clear the writers relish the chance to throw in all the geeky embellishments that accompanies dungeons and dragons and fortunately it suits the outlandish nature of the characters well. 

7. Repilot (B)
The "Repilot" does a great job establishing the new status-quo at Greendale and setting up the rest of the new season. It is filled with call backs to original "Pilot" and contains a lot of great jokes. I have to say though, I really do miss Pierce from the cast.

6. Geothermal Escapism (B)
This sendoff episode for Donald Glover's character Troy is another entry into the 'Greendale is taken over by some stupid game' genre. In this entry, the school is engulfed in a giant game of hot lava and the whole thing plays out a like Mad Max mixed with The Warriors .Ultimately, I don't care for how the episode ends between Abed and Troy, but everything up till then is pretty darn great. It's nice to see Britta get some chances to really shine as well. Seeing Troy head off with Levar Burton to sail the world is also a nice touch.

5. Cooperative Polygraphy (B)
Even though Pierce doesn't even appear in this episode, his presence in the guise of a polygraph examination to determine inheritance gifts (and if one of the group murdered him) is a breathe of fresh air into the group dynamics. The episode is basically a version of the original bottle episode "Cooperative Calligraphy" and its one of my favorites of the fifth season.

4. G.I. Jeff (B+)
A brilliant episode that doesn't earn an "A" only because not everything in it works perfectly and the vanity that leads Jeff to overdose is a very serious issue that the episode and series generally glosses over. Still, it's a great joy to watch the writers make jokes about the G.I. Joe series through the dynamics of the show's cast

3. Basic Intergluteal Nurismatics (B+)
This Community concept episode takes on Fincher films like Zodiac and broadly lampoons television murder dramas. The Greendale "Ass-crack Bandit" strikes several innocent students and the "Save Greendale" group must get involved. I love that they get the lighting and mood perfect while never resolving who the bandit is. 

2. Introduction to Teaching (B+)
I might be biased toward this episode since I consider myself an educator, but I love seeing Jeff deal with becoming a teacher. A lot of great jokes and story lines begin in this episode including the luxurious teacher's lounge, the reason why teacher's give an "A-" grade and the student reaction when they learn about it. This is also the episode that Abed, like he did with "Who's the Boss," takes on the question of Nicholas Cage to hilarious results. I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

1. App Development and Condiments (A)
Genius. This is a classic Community episode and the true gem of season 5. It not only parodies how past science fiction films saw the future, but effectively parodies how social cliques, networking, and classes work. So many great layers to this episode, plus it gets cardinal rule no.1 right: be funny.

Season 5 Analysis:

Season five has the second lowest average episode rating in front of only Dan Harmon-less season four. I think the overall quality of each episode is stronger here than in season four, but the absence of Pierce and Troy (in the later episodes) with the larger role of the supporting cast does give many of the episodes a different vibe than seasons 1-4. If it were an ideal world, I would love to have seen the best episodes of this season merged with the best episodes of season four and "Heroic Origins" become the series finale. In fact, I might just imagine that is how the show played out. 

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.