D’ya want to know what’s great? Community. It’s one of the smartest and funniest TV shows doing the rounds. It works not just as a sitcom but as a brilliant satire on current media trends. The cast of characters are becoming iconic and the catchphrases are infectious. It’s not unlike Arrested Development and not unlike that cult smash it faced the axe midway through the third season. But while Arrested Development was left to find its audience on DVD and struggle to get back onto the screen, Community is on its way back onto screens. To celebrate this fact we look at the ten best episodes to date.
10. Introduction to Film
With so many characters in the centre stage much of the first two episodes is given over to introducing the characters and setting up the premise. With the third episode we started to get a greater insight into Abed who, up until this point, had been a one-note character. The relationship Abed has with his father is introduced and his career as a student film-maker begins. Whilst Jeff steals plenty of laughs when a professor forces him to ‘seize the day’, Abed becoming a stereotypical indie director is pure gold, with the episode capping out with an extremely heart felt look into his upbringing.
9. Remedial Chaos Theory
During Troy and Abed’s house-warming party the group have to decide who will get the pizza. Jeff rolls a dice to decide who should go and creates six alternate timelines in which the same situations are effected by who’s left in the room. Clever and witty each variation of the same story is funnier than the last with the penultimate ‘evil’ version taking the cake. The epilogue with the fake goatees is already a running gag on the internet.
8. Modern Warfare
One thing that made this episode so much fun was how unexpected it was. After Jeff wakes from being knocked out he finds the school half destroyed and everyone waging wall against each other in the most heated game of paintball ever fought. Not only is it one of the funniest episodes in the first series but the action is brilliant.
Zombie movies and spoofs are as common as spam email these days, yet Community still manages to put an awesome spin of it. Blending their usual Halloween jokes with the classic zombie movie tropes produces a spoof unlike any other. With wacky costumes, a soundtrack of looped Abba and the best sudden cat gag ever committed to film it’s well worth the cliches.
6. Introduction to Statistics
Speaking of Halloween episodes, the first season celebration of the macabre holiday takes a very funny turn when Annie organises a Day of the Dead party that sees Shirley’s costume met with racism, Jeff needing Chang’s help to score, Pierce trip out on on ecstasy and, best of all, Abed taking on Batman’s cowl for the first time. Comedy gold.
5. Debate 109
Like many sitcoms, each episode of Community features two plotlines running throughout each episode. One focuses primarily on characters, the other purely exists for comedy purposes. This episode has two awesomely funny plots – Jeff and Annie trying to win a debate competition and the rest of the group discovering that Abed’s short films predict the future. Not a minute goes by without a laugh out loud moment.
4. Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas
Ah, the time honoured tradition of the christmas special. This stop-motion special episode is born out of those nostalgic classics complete with original songs and the true meaning of Christmas taking the form of the first season of Lost DVD box set. The animation is surprisingly good for a single episode of a sitcom and it perfectly captures the spirit of the classic specials. Random fact: the episode is written by Dino Stamatopoulos – better known as Starburns.
3. Regional Holiday Music
During season 3, when the axe was poised to fall, there was one dreaded thought going through the minds of fans. This hadn’t reached the heights of season 1 & 2 yet. At this rate could they ever bring in new viewers? Some episodes were good enough, but they hadn’t knocked one out off the park yet. Then came the mid-season finale, where the show took aim at one pop-culture phenomena that they’d taken pot shots at already, but this time they went for the kill. Glee was in desperate need of parody, and they were ready. Every song (actually written for the show, not just taken from the annuals of pop culture) is pure comedy gold, and bonus points for the awesome reference to The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
2. Contemporary American Poultry
“As long as I can remember I always wanted to be in a gangster movie”. So begins the parody of Goodfellas, stripping the epic gangster yarn down to a tale of school politics centered around the highly prized chicken fingers in the school cafeteria. Like all the best episodes you can see how much the cast and writers love the material they’re spoofing, brilliantly capturing the feel of Goodfellas with plenty of humour. The montage in which Abed takes his revenge is perfect.
1. A Fistful of Paintballs
Rounding out the second season came this re-visitation of the paintball episode. While trying to recapture the glory of a previous episode can get a bit dull for viewers, this does nothing but make things much, much more awesome by adding a Western slant. The star is easily Abed, donning and poncho and going Man With No Name but the episode as a whole perfectly delivers on everything Community is known for – sharp wit, perfect parody and buckets of character. Cameo from Josh Holloway doesn’t hurt either.
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