Liam Hoofe lists his 10 favourite episodes of Community following the announcement of the Community movie…
I can’t remember a piece of pop culture news that made me quite as happy as the recent announcement of the Community movie. Fans of the show have been calling for it ever since the credits rolled on the show’s sixth and final season, and while details remain sparse, there is plenty of reasons to get excited about it.
The return of Dan Harman and the majority of the main cast is brilliant news, and you’d like to think, given the time they’ve taken to get to this point, that they have some solid plans in place and it won’t be rushed.
So, to celebrate this fantastic announcement, I’ve decided to take a look back at the ten best Community episodes of all time.
Of course, asking me to list my top 10 episodes of Community was extremely difficult. The list was chopped and changed quite a bit, with each of these episodes making an appearance at one point:
Geothermal Escapism (Season 5 Episode 5)
Pillows and Blankets (Season 3, Episode 14)
Basic Lupine Urology (Season 3, Episode 17)
Documentary Filmmaking: Redux (Season 3, Episode 8)
Anthropology 101 (Season 2, Episode 1)
Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design (Season 2, Episode 9)
Repilot (Season 5, Episode 1)
10: Epidemiology (Season 2, Episode 6)
Community’s holiday specials are always nothing short of brilliant, and one of the best is ‘Epidemiology’. This season 2 classic is set at Greendale’s Halloween Party and sees the whole school turn into zombies after the Dean buys dodgy taco meat from the army.
With an Abba playlist and the Dean’s memos playing in the background, this is Community at its most fun. It also provides us with one of the most shocking hookups in the show’s history as Chang and Shirley get down and dirty for the night.
All of the sub-plots here are strong as well – with Jeff’s ongoing rivalry with Richard providing some laughs and Troy and Abed, as always, providing the episode with its most poignant moments. This is Community firing on all cylinders and is part of one of the best runs the show ever put together.
9: Contemporary American Poultry (Season 1, Episode 21)
When you look back at Community and look at episodes that really define the show, ‘Contemporary American Poultry’ has to be up there. The show really started to get into its rhythm at the end of season one, and ‘Contemporary American Poultry’ marked a real change of direction.
While the show was always loaded with pop-culture references and meta-gags, ‘Contemporary American Poultry’ was when it went full homage and the show really kicked things up a gear.
Using fried chicken at the school as a vehicle to pay homage to the likes of The Godfather and Goodfellas, the episode fully embraced the tropes of the gangster genre. Abed’s rise to the top of the school is hilarious to watch, and it really helped to pad out his relationship with Jeff which, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated in the series.
It also marked the appearance of Annie’s Boobs, the monkey, for the first time, and started a brilliant run to the end of the season that didn’t really let up until the third.
8: Cooperative Calligraphy (Season 2, Episode 8)
The episode that taught us all what a bottle episode is. The set-up for this episode is classic Community. Annie has lost her pen and is convinced one of the group has stolen it. Enraged by the fact that no one wants to fess up, Annie demands everyone stays in the study room until the pen is found.
This leads to some brilliant character moments and is a real example of the show’s ability to balance poignant character development with meta-commentary and humour. Few TV shows can pull off a bottle episode quite as well as this does.
7: Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television (Season 6, Episode 13)
This is the only episode on this list to come from the show’s final three seasons. While this could be seen as an indication of the show losing its way in the later years, I think it actually just highlights how near-perfect seasons 1-3 is.
‘Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television’ is the show’s last hurrah, and while it may not be as funny or iconic as some of the others on this list, it did provide one of the best-loved comedy shows of the 21st century with a fitting send-off.
This did everything you would want a good finale to do. It was nostalgic and poignant, and it provided all of the characters with a new sense of direction, bringing to a close a unique period of their lives.
The#Andamovie reference at the very end had remained as one of TV’s biggest teases until just now as well.
6: Paradigms of Human Memory (Season 2, Episode 21)
Clip-shows are one of the laziest tropes in TV, but not when they are in the hands of Dan Harmon. ‘Paradigms of Human Memory’ takes the clip-show format and flips it on its head by introducing us to new moments through flashbacks.
This provides many brilliant moments and was also the first time we got a reference for six-seasons and a movie, a promise that the show is finally going to deliver on. The clips here are brilliant, and they also play up to the tropes that the show itself has developed at this point. The revelations about Britta and Jeff are brilliant, while the montage of Abed and Pierce making eyes at one another remains one of the funniest sequences the show has put together.
5: Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas (Season 2, Episode 11)
Abed is the beating heart of Community, and that is never more apparent than in ‘Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas’. This was also the first time the show had pushed the limits of its own reality, giving us an episode that takes place entirely in stop-motion.
Of course, this is explained through Abed who, as Christmas approaches, has started to lose grasp on reality and has begun to see the world this way. This is a perfect example of Dan Harmon’s ability to mix creative storytelling with heartfelt moments. The Lost Season One reveal is utterly absurd but is one of the most touching moments the show ever manages to deliver, and some of the animation and creativity here are brilliant.
4: Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (Season 2, Episode 14)
When it’s stripped down, ‘Advanced Dungeons and Dragons’ is just an episode about the group sitting around playing a fantasy role-playing game at the study table. It’s so easy to forget this though, with the episode feeling like one of the most high-stakes offerings that the show has ever put together.
‘Advanced Dungeons and Dragons’ sees the group gather around a supporting character called Neil. The character has been given the nickname Fat Neil and has fallen into a deep depression as a result of bullying. The group arranges a game of D&D to try to help take his mind off things and get to know him a little better.
Everything is going smoothly until Pierce turns up to the event uninvited. Pierce’s heel turn in this is brilliantly executed and the Jeff reveal is brutally delivered.
What could have been a throwaway episode in another show turns into a high-stakes drama that also manages to deliver some of the best comic moments of the entire second season. You will never look at Abed the same after this one.
3: Modern Warfare (Season 1, Episode 23)
The first of Community’s paintball episodes is one of the show’s all-time greats. ‘Modern Warfare’ was the most cinematic Community episode we had seen at this point. The set-up is simple – a giant game of paintball has consumed the school, with the promise of priority registration for the winner.
It’s an episode that is full of homages and references to action movies and it is one of the wildest half hours Community has ever delivered. It’s exciting, it’s funny, and it’s smart, with plenty of brilliant character moments thrown in for good measure.
2: A Fistful of Paintballs/For a Few Paintballs More (Season 2, Episodes 23/ 24)
Ok, so this is two episodes as one entry, but it’s my list, so my rules. These back-to-back episodes at the end of season 2 are peak Community. After delivering a classic with Modern Warfare at the end of Season 1, the show went back to the paintball premise with ‘A Fistful of Paintballs’ and ‘For a Few Paintballs More’. The first of the two, ‘A Fistful of Paintballs’ is a great Western homage, with Josh Holloway making a memorable appearance as a handsome cowboy that Jeff despises, while ‘For a Few Paintballs More’ is arguably even better as a Star Wars homage which ends with, of all things, Abed and Annie kissing while being covered in orange paint.
There are too many memorable moments across these two episodes to fit into one list entry but if you are going to introduce Community to someone, then these two episodes are the best way to do it.
1: Remedial Chaos Theory (Season 3, Episode 4)
Were you really expecting anything else? ‘Remedial Chaos Theory’ is the Community episode everyone remembers. Not only did it introduce us to one of the best GIFs/memes to come from the show, but it could also be said that it was a teaser for the kind of alternate timeline madness we would see from Harmon later down the line with Rick & Morty.
In the episode, Jeff suggests rolling a dice to determine who will collect a pizza. Abed, being Abed, points out that by doing this, Jeff is going to create six separate timelines. The show then proceeds to show us what each of those timelines looks like as each person goes to collect the pizza.
This leads to some of the funniest moments in the show’s history, with the darkest timeline being nothing short of iconic. It also does what every great episode does and provides plenty of great character moments and interactions.
Everything about this episode comes together perfectly, from Pierce’s Eartha Kitt gag to Troy walking in on the darkest timeline and seeing the cursed troll staring back at him. The post-credit sequence is also up there with the show’s all-time greats.
What are your favourite Community episodes? Let us know on our social channels @FlickeringMyth…