Community’s Ten Best Episodes: Ten-Year Anniversary Edition

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CREDIT: NBC

Community, my favorite TV show of all time, premiered on NBC ten years ago, September 17, 2009. So it’s a pretty good time to do some episode rankings. Below, I have selected the ten best outings in the show’s six-season run. I would like to rank all 110 episodes at some point in the future, but that is quite a project. For now, ten will do. (But stay tuned.)

1. “Remedial Chaos Theory” – Knowledge of timelines deepens friendship.
2. “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” – The future looks cyclical, in a comforting way.
3 “Cooperative Calligraphy” – A bottle episode at breakneck wit and speed.
4. “Virtual Systems Analysis” – Experimentalism at full emotional depth.
5. “Paradigms of Human Memory” – The ultimate in expense-adding clip shows.
6. “Critical Film Studies” – As fulfilling as two ants getting down to brass tacks.
7. “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design” – The reveals spill out with equal parts full logic and full nonsense.
8. “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” – The meaning of Community episodes is that we find meaning in them.
9. “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” – The power of the mind is truly remarkable.
10. “Debate 109” – Character dynamics calcify and influence so much of what is to come.

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‘A.P. Bio’ Has a Striking Amount of ‘Community’ DNA

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CREDIT: NBC

Over the past few months, the delightful high school-set sitcom A.P. Bio has become one of my favorite shows on the air, but then NBC went a little cuckoo and cancelled it. There’s been some effort on the part of the cast, crew, and fans to find the show a new home, but unless that happens, we will have to be satisfied with two short-but-sweet seasons.

One of the reasons I love A.P. Bio so much is because it shares a lot of DNA with my favorite show of all time, which would be Community, another former NBC sitcom that was constantly on the brink of cancellation (though unlike A.P. Bio, it kept beating the renewal odds). Their premises and central characters are strikingly similar. In Community, Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) is a high-powered lawyer who gets disbarred and must enroll at a community college. Meanwhile, A.P. Bio stars Glenn Howerton as Jack Griffin, a disgraced Harvard philosophy professor who is forced to take a lowly part-time teaching job at a high school in Toledo, Ohio.

As I watched and grew to love A.P. Bio, I kept noticing more and more Community similarities, to the point that I could detect analogues for all the major characters. So I’ve assembled below a side-by-side comparison of the Greendale Human Beings and their corresponding Whitlock Rams. Enjoy, and let me know if you need help reacting to riding that ram.

(Thank you to my fellow commenters at the AV Club and Disqus for helping me out with these comparisons!)

Jack (Glenn Howerton) = Jeff (Joel McHale)

CREDIT: YouTube

The protagonists who try to act above it all but eventually embrace the crazy scholastic ecosystems they’ve become an integral part of.

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Links to Dan Harmon’s Season 6 Communitary

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I still haven’t re-watched every Community Season 6 episode with the addition of Dan Harmon’s commentary tracks, so I decided to make a post with some handy-dandy links for easy access.

1. “Ladders
2. “Lawnmower Maintenance and Postnatal Care
3. “Basic Crisis Room Decorum
4. “Queer Studies and Advanced Waxing
5. “Laws of Robotics and Party Rights
6. “Basic Email Security
7. “Advanced Safety Features
8. “Intro to Recycled Cinema
9. “Grifting 101
10. “Basic RV Repair and Palmistry
11. “Modern Espionage
12. “Wedding Videography
13. “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television

Jeffrey Malone’s 50 Favorite TV Shows of All Time

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You can learn a lot about people from their favorite television programs. TV viewing involves spending a lot of time with fictional characters and more or less forming relationships with them. Who we choose to spend our time with says a lot about our own personalities. With that in mind, here are the current standings for my 50 favorite shows of all time.

Arrested-Development-Season-5

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Señor Chang’s “Shining” Moment

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SPOILER WARNING: This essay discusses in depth the endings of an episode of Community, a 35-year-old movie, and a classic piece of sketch comedy. If you are reading this, you are probably already familiar with Community’s twist. The Shining works perfectly fine even if you know the ending. But if you have not seen the Key & Peele bit yet, do yourself a favor and watch it before reading.

When I took on this assignment, I thought I was going to be able to cover a whole survey of Shining homages. But then I realized that besides Chang’s misadventures in “Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality,” the only other one I am really familiar with is the Key & Peele sketch “Continental Breakfast.” So I looked up some more to make sure that my suspicion of their proliferance was correct. There’s a 2014 IKEA commercial in which a Danny bikes around a store. The Simpsons did it (“Treehouse of Horror V”). So of course Family Guy also did it. There are plenty of directions one can take with a Shining parody: hammy Jack Nicholson impressions, creepy little kid acting, Shelly Duvall’s big eyes, etc. Focusing on a comparison between Community and Key & Peele is instructive because the crux of both homages is the ending and what they say about the nature of reality.

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Community 6.13: “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television”

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“School’s out, bitches!” http://www.starpulse.com/news/Jeffrey_Malone/2015/06/03/community-season-6-finale-recap-emotio

Even if there ends up being a movie or a season 7, I’ll still consider this one of the best series finales of all time.

Community 6.12: “Wedding Videography”

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“Everyone stay and eat cake, or GO TO HELL!” http://www.starpulse.com/news/Jeffrey_Malone/2015/05/26/community-season-6-episode-12-recap-we

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