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Top 30 Community “Theme” Episodes: 30-26

May 29, 2012

Following the end of season 3 of Community, I began to reflect on how (in addition to being one of the funniest) it is one of the most ambitious shows on television.  The show has never been afraid to take chances with episodes paying homages to various genres and television storytelling devices, and that has given us some of the best television in the past decade.  With that in mind, I decided to rank the 30 episodes they have done so far that I consider “theme” episodes.  Now, to clarify, the qualifications for being a “theme” episode include that it either varies storytelling style, pays homage to a genre (or more specific reference), is a holiday episode, or does some combination of those.  Also, it should be noted that some of the all time great episodes of the show will not be on the list because they weren’t really “theme” episodes.  That doesn’t mean I don’t love them just as much as the rest of these episodes, but I thought it would be interesting to look solely at these episodes.  Also, the more that an episode throws itself into the theme, the higher it is going to rank.  Now, without further ado, episodes 30-26.
30.  Comparative Religion (Season 1)

This was the first Christmas episode that the show did, and it is probably the least ambitious of the three to date.  However, with a guest appearance from Anthony Michael Hall as the bully, it is still a very funny episode.  This episode also helps us learn more about all the characters with regard to their religious lifestyles (or lack thereof), and we get some good character development here at the midpoint of season 1 as Jeff has to decide between standing up to the bully and doing what his friends want.

Memorable Quote: Troy Barnes–First time I got punched in the face, I was like oh no, then I was like this is a story.

29. Introduction to Statistics (Season 1)

The first Halloween episode of the series, it again lacks the ambition of the corresponding episodes for the later seasons, but there are gems here.  Abed makes his first appearance as Batman, Britta refuses to bow to the slutty Halloween costume idea, Pierce has a bad trip after a drug exchange with Star Burns, and Shirley is mistaken for Steve Urkel the entire night.  The episode is solid all around, and it is a good indicator for the things to come, but it doesn’t rank higher than this mainly due to the brilliance of the later episodes that this helped lay the foundation for.

Memorable Quote: Annie Edison–Then I can mark you down as definitely being there from 7 sharp to upside down question mark?

28. Physical Education (Season 1)

Now, some of you may be thinking that this episode doesn’t really classify as a “theme” episode, but it makes two references so specific that it merited inclusion on the list.  The main plot involves Jeff taking a billiards class and butting heads with the teacher because he refuses to wear shorts.  This leads to a climactic game that is one huge reference to Martin Scorsese’s The Color of Money.  The episode is also helped with a great turn from Blake Clark as the pool coach and the Dean stealing the show during the final game.  In addition to a great end tag where Troy and Abed play Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street, Abed has a story where he is trying to pick up girls, and he shows off a great impression of Don Draper from Mad Men. Bonus points for using the impression on Alison Brie, who is on both shows.

Memorable Quote: Troy Barnes–You should be like Calvin. His best friend was a tiger, he always went on dope adventures, and if anything stood in his way, he just peed on it.

27. Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples (Season 2)

To me, this is the lowest ranking of the full episode length homages, but its ambition lands it higher than the previous three.  It pays homage to the New Testament in its story by having Abed become worshiped by the students of Greendale only to get torn down once he gets too powerful.  There are some nice moments, but it is nowhere near as laugh out loud funny as many other episodes of the show.  The funniest moment comes in the end tag, which is linked above.

Memorable Quote: Abed Nadir–He was like E.T., Edward Scissorhands, and Marty McFly combined.

26. Basic Rocket Science (Season 2)

This is a fun episode of the show, and it parodies some of the most popular astronaut movies of all time, such as Apollo 13, The Right Stuff, and Armageddon.  I enjoyed Abed’s turn as the Gary Sinise type who is left behind but helps his team through the event, and the decision to mock the “space dementia” incident in Armageddon was inspired.  Again, this episode has many nice moments, but when compared to some of the all time great episodes, it just doesn’t hold up.

Memorable Quote: Troy Barnes–We are 40 light years outside of the buttermilk nebula, although it’s possible that … yeah, this is a sticker.

 

Tune in soon for numbers 25-21.

 

Hope you liked this post, and I hope you like what else I have to say.

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