Thursday, July 09, 2015

Three And Out

It's been about a month since I've done a post on Community, so it's time for a new one.

I recently ran across a ranking of all 110 episodes of the show by Cory Barker at Six Seasons And A Movie. Trouble is, of course, the first three seasons are so much better than the last three (and season four is especially bad) that it's not much better than just ranking just the first three seasons.  But let's see what we get.  I won't reprint the entire list, but just give general comments.

We start with the fifth tier.  Lots of season four here, it's good to see.  Nine of the bottom eleven come from that season, though the two lowest should be, I think, "Alternative History Of The German Invasion" and "Cooperative Escapism In Familial Relations" and maybe "Paranormal Parentage" after that.

The other two bottom feeders come from seasons five and six, which makes sense. Unfortunately, they're two of my favorites from those years--"App Development And Condiments" (maybe my favorite season five episode) and "Intro To Recycled Cinema." I know something's got to be at the end of the list, but not these two.

We eventually get to low-ranked episodes from seasons 1-3 (including a number centering on Pierce)--but watching reruns I have to admit I've grown fond of "Celebrity Pharmacolgy" and "Contemporary Impressionists."

In general I'm agreeing with the list into the fourth tier up through the 80s, with lots of season five and six episodes, thought "G.I. Jeff" was one of the more fascinating episodes of season five.  Then, in the mid-70s, I have some problems: #76 Course Listing Unavailable," #75 "Foosball And Nocturnal Vigilantism" #74 "Studies In Modern Movement" all behind #73 "Cooperative Escapism And Familial Relations" (which, as I note above, may be the worst episode of all).

I'm not saying these three are top ten material, or even top twenty, but I like them, especially the last two, which I've grown to enjoy more through reruns.  And "Foosball" may be the only episode with two stories that are both good and of equal importance.

I have some problems with #68 and #67, "Horror Fiction In Seven Spooky Steps" and "Regional Holiday Music." Both break format (if such a thing is possible on Community) and both succeed.  Sure, the show may have taken other chances that succeeded more spectacularly, but these two deserve to be top fifty, maybe even top thirty.

Onto the third tier.  A lot of so-so stuff here (and a lot from season one), some of which could have been ranked lower, in fact.  But some of the stuff (especially from season two) such as "The Psychology Of Letting Go," "Accounting For Lawyers," "Basic Rocket Science," "Investigative Journalism" "Digital Exploration Of Interior Design" and the "special" season five episode "Geothermal Escapism" might have been ranked a bit higher.

Onto the second tier, where just about everything should be somewhere between excellent and indisputably a classic.

Some of it I question--a lot of season one stuff that maybe should be tier three.  And some season six and five stuff that maybe shouldn't be here.  Speaking of which, what is season four doing here at all--I don't care if Jim Rash wrote "Basic Human Anatomy." It may be better than most of that season, but it's tier three at best.  Then there's #28 to #26 "Introduction To Finality," "Curriculum Unavailable" and "Basic Lupine Urology."  Ranked high, yes, but maybe they should be higher, especially the last two.

Now I'll list the top 25, with comments.

25.  "Messianic Myths And Ancient Peoples"

Barker calls it underrated.  Not enough by him, that's for sure. This is perhaps the worst episode of season two. Not a great start to our top 25.

24.  "Documentary Filmmaking: Redux"

Some good moments, but maybe the weakest episode of season three.  We're off to a bad start indeed.

23.  "For A Few Paintballs More"

I don't love the return to paintball as much as some fans, but it was still a fine double-parter, so I'm not complaining.  (Or maybe I am complaining--I think I liked this better than part one.  More on that later.)

22.  "Debate 109"

This one starts the "top tier."  And why not? An episode from season one that was not only pretty darn good, but showed us the show was developing in ways we didn't expect.

21.  "Modern Espionage"

I liked season six, and didn't mind that they returned to paintball, but I'm not sure if it deserves anything in the top tier.

20.  "Digital Estate Planning"

Sure--though as a stunt episode I'm almost surprised it was rated this high.

19.  "A Fistful Of Paintballs"

As noted above at 23, though this one is quite imaginative, I'm with Abed--let's leave the Wild West and go to Star Wars.

18.  "Introduction To Statistics"

More second tier to me, but you could tell the show was really coming together in this early season one episode.

17.  "Epidemiology"

Truly memorable. Manages to be hilarious yet legitimately scary.

16.  "Virtual Systems Analysis"

We take the Dreamatorium out for a spin on this one.  I like it a lot, but not enough to make it top twenty.

15.  "Bondage And Beta Male Sexuality"

One of the most "serious" episodes. Not bad, but nowhere near top fifteen.   No season five episode should be top fifteen, and this isn't the best one from that year.

14.  "Cooperative Polygraphy"

Rated way too high.  A pretty good season five episode. Maybe second tier, more likely third.

13.  "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"
Another experiment, and one that works.  But I'm not sure if it works as well as "Regional Holiday Music" or "Digital Estate Planning."

12.  "Comparative Religion"

A decent episode, but I'm not sure what it's doing up this high--third tier would be about right.

11.  "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons"

Rated highly, but not enough.  One of the greatest mixes of humor and emotion any show has ever done.  Should be top five.

10.  "Critical Film Studies"

A classic, I can see it as top ten (even if I was disappointed it didn't turn out to be a parody of Pulp Fiction that it seemed to promise).

9.  "Contemporary American Poultry"

Definitely.  A great parody of Goodfellas but so much more.

8.  "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking"

When I first saw it I wasn't sure, but it's only gotten better with each viewing.  And I like how it makes fun of sitcoms that talk to the camera.

7.  "Conspiracy Theories And Interior Design"

Isn't this a little high?  Two decent plots, but I find the "clever" ending a bit tiring.

6. "Paradigms Of Human Memory"

Perhaps still rated a bit low. So much good stuff, and so well done.  What other sitcom would make its clip show the most expensive of the season.

5.  "Emotional Consequences Of Broadcast Television"

Maybe the best of season six, and a great way to end the series, but nothing from that season should be top ten.  I'm not even sure if this should make the top tier.

4.  "Cooperative Calligraphy"

Their classic bottle episode.  I can see it top five.

3. "Modern Warfare"

One of the classics from the first season. If the viewers weren't convinced this show was something special by now, they never would be. (Alas, that's how it worked for most of the audience.)

2.  "Mixology Certification"

I've never quite understood why this is held in such high regard. A good episode, certainly, and definitely an emotional one.  But I prefer, say, "The Psychology Of Letting Go" or "Aerodynamics Of Gender."

1.  "Remedial Chaos Theory"

Damn straight. This one may make the list of top ten episodes of all sitcoms.

The funny thing is so few people watch the show, I doubt many will read all the way down to here. (And even those who do watch the show may not be familiar with all the titles.)

But if all they do is look at the photos, I hope they'll wonder how can one show have so many different looks.

There's only one way to find out.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the picture with the scary red "WARNING! DO NOT STEAL BANDWITH" and the quasi nuclear animation real or from Community?

Its all so meta.

(On the other hand youu've encouraged to go rewatch a bunch of episodes. I do not know the titles but I'm sort of remembering the first few episodes were more typical sitcommy & forgettable but I don't really remember them that well

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