Glazomania: Redux – Episodes 57-62

Broken Toys (Presented by Wal-mart)

These episodes aren't necessarily bad, but there's usually something wrong with them, at least one glaring flaw. We all love Community here, so the lowest ranked will just be the episodes we like that have obvious problems. Also note that the scores are extremely close and will be for most of the rest of the episodes on the list, and any tiny differences are important. 

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62. Asian Population Studies (212) (Average Score – 61.20)
(Average Grade – 2.69/B-) (Average Rank – 50.3) (High Rank – 18) (Low Rank – 71) (Standard Deviation – 0.765)
Now that's odd: I was expecting this episode to be much higher, given how many notable and vocal supporters it seemed to have. Like GCC it suffers from the same plotting and pacing issues, albeit to a lesser extent. The Winger speech is still the best the show has produced, and Troy's ode to the sexiness of Halloween and rotting pumpkins is PHRASING!!! at its best. Even Chang gets an uncharacteristically solid plot, which allows him to be both batshit insane and somehow integral to the group's cohesion (except for the baffling, lame gag of him on the bookshelf). But the episode is dragged down by the awful, graceless, resolution to the Shirley pregnancy plot. Granted, Troy has never been the most articulate or thoughtful speaker, but even so, his blurting out Shirley's secret qualifies as one of the laziest moments in the entire show – a half-assed payoff to a cringeworthy plot. It's the narrative equivalent of Jeff shrugging Rich off in mid-sentence, except not funny or relevant to the character. It's worse than bad: it's good enough.
 –          Semi-bored Torontonian 
  
61. Advanced Criminal Law (105) (Average Score – 61.21)
(Average Grade – 2.71/B-) (Average Rank – 53.8) (High Rank – 27) (Low Rank – 69) (Standard Deviation – 0.505)
This is not a bad episode by any means, but isn't that why Dan Harmon so often talks about "pizza episodes?" Even the so-so ones can be delicious. So here is a typical early Season 1 episode where the series was still working to find its voice. Looking back, we can see several now iconic elements are introduced here (Leonard! The Luis Guzman statue! The Dean's first real interaction with the study group!). On the other hand, it's an episode with three largely predictable storylines that never quite transcend classic sitcom tropes. Laugh out loud moments throughout, but episodes before and shortly after used similar tropes for much stranger and more innovative scenarios. You can sense many essential components of the series starting to really jell: Troy and Abed's almost telepathic friendship, the familial vibe of Pierce and Annie, the relationship between Jeff and Britta as something more complex than the standard Sam and Diane "will they or won't they?" coupling. These elements would start to see more fruitful execution within just a few episodes.
–          Menocu 
  
60. The Art of Discourse (122) (Average Score – 61.47)
(Average Grade – 2.72/B-) (Average Rank – 50.3) (High Rank – 23) (Low Rank – 71) (Standard Deviation – 0.787)
Setting aside an unshakeable irritation with the teenagers and my own aversion to Lisa Rinna, there are many redeeming and amusing aspects of AOD. Jeff and Britta bond hilariously (you have to bang that kid's mom!) over mutual age-related insecurity, Troy and Abed embark on several Animal House-style freshman year college adventures, while Pierce and Shirley find common ground. Added to the Community universe in this episode: the City College "escape goat," Pierce's "flat-butt and the one Abed wants to nail," Boob-A-Tron 4000, Troy and Abed in togas, Pierce practicing wooing chicks with his guitar, and the cafeteria food fight that featured "Party Where Your Heart Is" from the Season 1 soundtrack. Of particular amusement is the lyric "I hate science/unless it helps me build a robot/specifically the kind programmed to find another party so I can skip Chemistry." The Pierce/Shirley scene in the library is genuinely sweet as they find mutual understanding and respect for one another…until Pierce leans in for the kiss. Even with its share of irritations and tendency to be overlooked — perhaps owing to its placement between "Contemporary American Poultry" and "Modern Warfare" — there are plenty of laughs throughout this enjoyable, if lower tier, season one episode.
–          JanetSnakehole 
  
59. Interpretive Dance (114) (Average Score – 62.88)
(Average Grade – 2.78/B-) (Average Rank – 51.2) (High Rank – 26) (Low Rank – 69) (Standard Deviation – 0.559)
When it comes to the “weaker” episodes of Community, we are speaking in relative terms (or at least I am, as I think every episode is at least somewhat great).  In “Interpretive Dance,” there are plenty of moments that I like to cite, quote, or just think about in real life: Jeff’s line about “six lovable but annoying misfits” appearing as soon as the blinds open, Pierce’s zinger about theatrical dynamite despite cultural unacceptability, the astutely observed conversation about dance being a typically feminine pursuit, to name a few.  Ultimately, this episode just doesn’t have a classic feel to it.  Jeff’s hesitancy about the boyfriend/girlfriend labeling, though believable, doesn’t go much beyond typical sitcom fare.  Like a lot of lesser episodes, “Interpretive Dance” would have been insufferable if it had been an episode of a cookie-cutter sitcom, but it is reasonably enjoyable thanks to the human beings of Community.
–          Jmunney
  
58. The Politics of Human Sexuality (111) (Average Score – 63.61)
(Average Grade – 2.81/B-) (Average Rank – 50.1) (High Rank – 21) (Low Rank – 67) (Standard Deviation – 0.587)
Whenever I rewatch Community I never end up watching this episode. It's a shame, because there's some great stuff to this episode. I like the friendship between Shirley, Britta and Annie! I like Troy and Abed – who luckily get seperated from the main plot! I really love every little detail that the props/set decorating department put into every flier, booth or wheel of remorse – which helps to shape the uniqueness that is Greendale. However: I don't need an episode flat out telling me that Jeff is shallow, Pierce oversells himself or that Annie is comfortable with being uncomfortable about her own sexuality! Community is great with sub-text, but this episode really doesn't do anything to prove that. This episode ends up being an example of the show trying to find its' footing in the original episode order and falling very short of the high expectations we give the show in hindsight.
–          Dr. Regina Phalange
 
57. Intro to Political Science (217) (Average Score – 63.66)
(Average Grade – 2.81/B-) (Average Rank – 50.0) (High Rank – 18) (Low Rank – 67) (Standard Deviation – 0.581)
Intro to Political Science is where the cracks in the Annie and Jeff ship start to show. This episode is the older sibling of another bottom of the list episode, Geography of Global Conflict. The A story pits Jeff & Annie against each other in a political battle to be the leader of GCC's student government and meet Joe Biden during his "Biden' Time, Talkin' About Teaching" tour of community colleges. Wouldn't you know it, Annie is optimistic about being able to make positive change and Jeff is cynical about the political process.
 
The highlight of the episode is Troy & Abed's coverage of the election for Greendale TV and Eliza Coupe's guest spot as the object of Abed's affection. Britta, Pierce, and Shirley all get some standout moments in the episode, but they are pretty much sidelined. There are some great episodes where two or more characters find themselves on the sidelines, but episodes like this help highlight that this show is at its best when the ensemble is fully utilized.
 
Highlights;
– The reaction to candidate Britta
– the news ticker on GCTV
– "It's like god spilled a person"
– Jeff's speeches and the way he pronounces Maria
– Troy "Butt Soup" Barnes
– Garrett's profile: http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…
–          Thedirte

 

23 LIKES

http://www.avclub.com/articles/digital-estate-planning-the-first-chang-dynasty-in,73676/#comment-747994559 (page 693)

 

Discussion:

  • Anyone else find Asian Population Studies' placement surprising?

  • I did! Surprising, and vindicating ;-)

    I'm a little sad about The Art of Discourse placing so low; it's an episode I love a little more every time I see it.

  • Yep. I've never understood the hate it gets, it's an incredibly solid B+ level episode.

  • I think I had it 49th which is, in my opinion, very solid for a show as good as Community. Never really considered it to go this low. In fact, I have quite a few of the episodes in this group a decent bit higher on my list, I believe.

  • I had it at 60, so I suppose I'm not that surprised. I don't have my episode notes handy, but once you get beyond the bottom tier, its a matter of comparing above average episodes of sitcom television to outstanding and paradigm shifting episodes of sitcom television. A lot of really good episodes are going to look bad by comparison when they are, in reality, perfectly cromulent in their own right.

  • I've always felt it was a perfectly average episode of Community with plenty of laughs and nothing too groundbreaking. Sure, the Chang-pregnancy storyline is insane, but you can definitely mine that for jokes and many of them are undertaken here. There's also the presence of arguably the best or at least funniest Winger speech: 

    What do we know about Ben Chang? We know he’s nuts. We know he’s dangerous, unpredictable, selfish. We know he uses his name to make bad puns. When he talks, he over and under emphasizes words, seemingly at random. When he eats, he holds his fork like a murderer’s knife. Gnawing at his skewered payload like a deranged woodland rodent. We know he smells like band-aids. We know he dresses like a Cuban cab driver. We know he exhibits – nay – flaunts proudly obvious symptoms of over half-a-dozen disorders you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy’s pets. We know these things about Ben Chang. And so much more than we ever wanted to know about him. Why? Because it’s there.
      
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

    Edit: Also note that the difference between Asian Population Studies and Advanced Criminal Law is 0.01. That's microscopic.

  •  "Who is this kettle corn-popping phantom?"

  • That was my lowest ranked episode. Don't know if it was for anyone else.
    My reasoning- it's got great individual moments like every episode, but all my least favorite ongoing stories overlap here- Chang wanting to be part of the study group, the "is Chang the father?" plot, Jeff being jealous of perfect Rich (which I loved in Beginner Pottery but feels like a weak retread here). The end with Jeff showing up at Rich's door feels poorly thought out and tacked on and even if I liked it, they never mention Rich and his relationship with Jeff or Annie ever again, so it really is a narrative dead end.

  •  Oh, yeah, that too: Rich went from possibly psychotic to exaggerated do-gooder with no explanation whatsoever.

  • Do we fault APS for the narrative dead-end or the rest of the season? APS used Rich in the final scene, but do we blame that episode for that plot dying there?

  • Capt. Blicero Either way I thought it was a dumb ending to begin with. In hindsight, it seems incredibly pointless in addition to dumb since it never went anywhere (and since it was never mentioned again, it may indicate the writers thought it was kind of dumb, too).

  • Yes, because of what SBT said.

  • "But the episode is dragged down by the awful, graceless, resolution to the Shirley pregnancy plot."

    Tell us more about Applied Anthropology, Semi!

    I still don't get why this gets in your craw so much. There are so many examples of this, many by Troy since it's in his character. Remember Mr. Rad conveniently blurting out that he killed the Glee club for a speedy exit? The problem is the pregnancy arc itself, which necessitates tedious secrecy storylines like this in the first place, so blame that. APS did the best it could with what it was given.

  •  I consider the real resolution to the plot to be settling the potential Chang baby daddy question. Unless the show was willing to REALLY go dark, Shirley giving birth was a given.

  •  It's a perfect storm of a conclusion to a crappy plot, delivered in the most unimaginative way possible. When Mr. Rad spilled the beans, it fit with both the zany energy of the moment and with the general insanity of the character.

    I guess I kept hoping that the show would salvage the Shirley plot in a smart or funny way, and got really irritated when they didn't.

  • Harmon kind of hinted in his long AVC Walkthrough of S2 how much he struggled writing for Shirley in S2, and how he seemed to take it personally that he couldn't write a long-term arc where he related to her. Which, credit for his self-awareness on the matter, but it explains a lot.
     
    It seems in hindsight like he wanted Shirley to have a reckless hookup like everyone else did, but wasn't sure how to make it sexy, and backed away from making Chang in any way sympathetic (and pregnancy has become basically the standby in every show ever for a female character the writers don't have any other ideas for). I would think that they could've alternately had Chang seem sweet and decent in some eps, and obnoxious in others, and still ended up in the same amiable place (with Chang meaning well in his crazy way, but being moved to the side so Shirley could raise the baby with Andre). Instead
    they made Andre a saint who ocassionally acts selfishly but always recovers to be a good BF, and as a character is basically just a gesture of goodwill to Yvette Nicole Brown because Harmon doesn't know what else to do with her.
     
    S3 basically saved her character by going back to seeing her through Jeff or Britta's eyes, as someone who is too serious but you love her for that even when she's annoying.
     
    Long story short, I think the birth itself is just successful enough as a capper to the story arc that I find "Applied Anthropology" OK and inoffensive even though it's a lot more awkward and less funny overall than a chaotic episode set entirely in Duncan's class ought to be.

  • The Politics of Human Sexuality at 58? Really? That episode is fantastic and unbelievably quotable.

  • I think, now that we're past the bottom of the barrel, a good chunk of the low-ranking episodes will suffer from "It's a good enough episode, but there's just a whole lot of better ones" syndrome.

  • I think that might be what happened to Asian Population Studies.

  • Ok, high votes for each episode, reveal yourselves! Unless this is something we plan on doing later, in which case remain shrouded by the cloak of anonymity.

    I was the high vote on Interpretive Dance, and I stand by that. I love me some Tritta, and I really appreciate the way that Slater was the first person to really throw Jeff off his game. That led to some very funny stuff in seeing Jeff not be in total control for the first time.

  • I had Art of Discourse at 26, which is sorta close to the high ranking.

  • I had Human Sexuality at 21.

  • I love the recital portion of Interpretive Dance. It's beautifully staged and lit to accentuate Gillian's beauty. It's one of my lower season 1 eps but it's exceedingly enjoyable.

  • Ooh! I was almost the high for ACL (28)!

  • thefunjustneverends

    I have Asian Population Studies at 18.  I also had Intro to Political Science at 66 so I was one off there.

  • Advanced Criminal Law lower than Discourse?? SCHMITTYS!!

  • Discourse was higher than several episodes it had no business beating. I like where the Schmitty plot goes, but it is relentlessly annoying in how it gets there. If it had beaten Interpretive Dance, though, me and the other voters were gonna have words.

  • Exactly. It's not so much that I hate Discourse as that I find Law a charming little bit of pizza. As Menocu points out, it's where so many important elements start to come together and the show finds its groove.

  • Can I say that Discourse deserves to be higher? It annoyed lots of commenters, but those teens were supposed to be annoying. When you're an adult going back to college, and it's a crappy community college, those high-achieving, spoiled brats are ball-itchingly irritating.

  • I'm curious what reasoning people have for disliking this episode so much beside the SCHMIDTY kids.

  • Agreed.

    The Abed-Troy plot is comedy gold and I think it's one of the funniest episodes of the entire series. I also love how their plot organically introduces a second plot and concludes a third. That sort of intertwined plotting and clever structure is a common feature to Chris McKenna's Community scripts.

    I find the low ranking especially odd as I think the episode is pretty representative of the humor and themes of the series as a whole.

    I guess people really hate the highschoolers.

  • Completely agree. Discourse is a great episode. I had it at #36 and though it would rank higher than what it did.
    Also: ACL was a bottom 5 episode for me. Really hated it.

  • The Low Rank for ACL was 59 but it ranked 61 overall. Is that even possible?

  • That's a typo, which I made; not Blicero. That should read 69.

  • "That should read 69."

    Hottttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt.

  • That's what we in the "biz" call a typo. See how close the 6 is to the 5? I didn't prepare the text except for the preface, so blame someone else for that. (Oh, let's say … Moe.)

  • I'm just going to overlook the hate crime that is putting all those good episodes behind Poli Sci and worse episodes yet to be revealed.

    If Celebrity Pharmacology is the first episode I felt like I hated, Poli Sci is the first that immediately made me worry the show was entering a decline. It's just a cheap, empty feeling episode that felt so different after 216. It foreshadows much of the subpar comedy writing that comes later. Stuff like Britta's protest, the Dean's costume, Troy's notches, etc. I was also disappointed at the lack of follow-up on Jeff-Pierce from 216. Sure enough, episodes like Custody Law, Wine Tasting, and Applied Anthropology followed with the same emptiness and throwaway feeling.

  • Do people dislike Troy's notches? Sure, it's dumb once you consider the implications of how stupid Troy would have to be to make the joke work, but as just a joke it's one of the biggest laughs that I've ever gotten from a single joke on Community.

  • I don't think it says Troy is stupid. I just think it says he can get really, really bored.

  • There you have it, then. I'm not sure what could be considered objectionable about that joke, in that case.

  • That's a pretty charitable reading–that he's just bored. It's contrasting Jeff, Abed and Troy, and Troy is the stupid one.

  • I agree with SG Standard. This is the same Troy whose backpack contains only a pillow. Troy has a touch of ADHD about him in how easily bored and distracted he is.

  • Um, yeah, Troy is the stupid one, and this is true from the Pilot on. Harmon has called him the Woody or Reverend Jim of Community. I guess you could take issue with how dumb he is there, but he's been as dumb or dumber on many occasions. That's just nitpicking.

  • Making notches labeled Notches makes him borderline retarded, not merely dim. It's just a terrible joke. Joe Russo, who I think gets comedy even better than Harmon, said something important in the commentaries: The trickiest thing in comedy is not allowing a joke to hurt your characters, because there's a cumulative effect where you stop believing in them at a certain point. I think what he describes started to happen in episodes like this one.

  • I don't feel like arguing with this because you nitpick more than anyone else and your grades are probably the most unique. Troy's said things just as dumb before, even in your revered season 1. He's TV dumb. It's easy and fun to write jokes for that. You'd be one of those party-poopers saying Homer was too dumb in season 4.

  • Who's there?

    I don't deny that Troy was too dumb in season 1, especially early on where they had him pigeonholed as a dumb jock. His stupidity took on more shape and character when Glover's own persona was integrated into the character. So a joke like Troy covering the goat's ears while he says "escape goat" is about Troy/Glover's feverish imagination that doesn't understand physical boundaries rather than just a simple Troy is dumb joke. The best period of joke writing for Troy was the first semester of season 2 when everyone's understanding of the character was on the same page in congress with strong character writing.

    Another example with Britta,
    Britta is dumb season 1: She thinks it'll be funny to put a hat on a frog but shedding the buzzkill label blows up in her face
    Britta is dumb season 3: She suddenly loses basic technology competence (and her usual phone) for a joke about a six pack of Totorolas that blow up in her face

  •  I like a lot of Poli Sci for the way it offers a rare glimpse of Winger in his environment ("Marrrrria, who's a beautiful Latina, working in the cafeterrrria…"). Also: Real World audition tape; Abed romances Eliza Coupe; Leonard and Magnitude's fiery rhetoric.

    It only placed two spots above APS in my ranking, because it's so similar in its qualities and flaws.

    Celebrity Pharmacology, on the other hand, I really like.

  • I'm not a big fan of the Real World audition tape…….

    *hides under table*

  • Was that last statement sarcastic because I actually enjoyed Celebrity Pharmacology.

    Anyways, I also like Political Science for many of the same reasons including Troy and Abe'd political commentary. Bonus: a pencil in Pierce's cheek:

    http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…

  • I'm not either, Stephen. It makes me cringe but not in the good way.

  •  ALittleBirdie : no sarcasm – I really like Pharmacology.

  • Stephen77 was really surprised when I had it a little high on the list

    I mixed up a lot on my list.

  • I wasn't that surprised! I just asked to make sure because you had two other episodes mixed up and I thought you might have had that one mixed up with another too.

  • Pierce's play is a very funny concept from start to finish. I love the idea that he can actually be charming, just at the worst possible time (much like Chevy, he's just so good at being an attention-seeking dick). Plus, having Chang save it by being as awful as drugs is genius.

    OTOH, Jeff sexting Britta's nephew never really lands with me. The twist (if you can call it that) where the kid is even more perverted than Jeff is a real 2 1/2 Men-er.

  • The only thing that really hurts Poly Sci for me is the fact that they took a perfectly natural conflict between Jeff and Annie based on their personalities and turned it into a conflict based on their "relationship". Jeff should be a cynical ass in this situation. Annie should be type A, idealistic, and push things too far as a result. That's who they are. Had the episode left it at that, it would have had no complaints from me. To shoehorn in some unnecessary shipping just for the sake of having some shipping did the episode a disservice. The two of them could have had plots and disagreements that didnt use the kiss as a driver. They should have trusted the characters to simply be the characters and have trusted the audience to go along with that. That's the one worry I have about Tritta in S3. Please, let them be themselves and don't use a relationship as an excuse to generate conflict.

  • I was the low vote on Political Science, I think. It's just kind of a nothing episode. I never feel the need to go back and rewatch it. It's not bad, it's just…one of the most useless episodes.

  • So sad to "Art of Discourse" that low :(

    I was close to being the highest ranker for it.

  • Interesting that season 3, which is considered by most of you guys to be the weakest season, has only had 2 episodes rank within the bottom 15. I'm sure this says something insightful about something.

  • Actually I think it's had 4.

    GGC, Ecology, CI, CLU

  • Ah, fair point, I somehow forgot CLU and Ecology. Still, it's less than what seasons 1 and 2 have.

  •  which is considered by most of you guys to be the weakest season
     
    Careful with your assumptions. You'll see why. You'll also see a pattern with the weakest episodes soon enough.

  • That is incorrect. It had 3 episodes in the bottom 5 alone and 4 in the bottom 15. Season 1 has 5 in the bottom 15 and Season 2 actually has 6.

  • Yeah, I messed up the numbers. It's not dominating the bottom of the list as much as I had expected, though.

  • Outside of the bottom 4 season 3 episodes, I don't have any season 3 episodes outside of my top 50

  • Did you really expect it to? I mean, Season 3 gets plenty of love here and, frankly, I suspect most people wouldn't stick around here if they didn't passionately love the show through Season 3. The detractors are somewhat of a minority here – a vocal minority mind you – who really do believe that Season 3 was a significant step down for the series but a minority nonetheless.

  • I guess it is the optical illusion of the vocal minority. The detractors of season 3 definitely speak up more than its defenders, I think. Not that that's a bad thing – it does generate a lot of good critical discussion.

  • APS was unbelievably horribly robbed. Also, Season 3 is already overrated.

  • I think APS' rank is the biggest surprise on the whole list for me. I'm shocked to see it behind any of the episodes here and, hell, many of the episodes in the next group as well.

    I just realized Intro to Political Science is ahead of APS. I always assumed that people would group the former into the weak Season 2 episodes before the latter. I guess I was wrong.

  • B+ at #47 for me. Really enjoyable episode. Jeff selling Chang to the group is one of my favorite things the show has done with Chang, along with his love of the slow clap. "Feel the HEAT!" http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…

  • B+ and #46 for me!
    If I'm being honest, I just really love the Troy and Abed in the Morning tags.

  • I'm part of the problem, apparently. I had it at 55.

  • I want to make it known that I'm liking this comment for the first part, not the second.

  • Seeing this makes me realize how utterly forgettable The Politics of Human Sexuality is to me. Also, I never really saw the Jeff/Annie bits as shipping in Political Science! I always felt like that hug and their dialogue were "friendly" and less "shipping" Jeff/Annie for the sake of shipping.

  • It seems like there's a decent number of episodes that are getting hurt by their Jeff/Annie moments.  I wonder if that's because people just think those parts aren't well-done, regardless of their opinions of Jeff/Annie as a romantic pair, or if there is a strong anti-shipping streak in our ranks.  For the record, I think Jeff and Annie make a great couple, though I don't actively ship them.  Interestingly enough, though, I did have "GoGC" rather low (though I definitely wasn't as harsh about the Jeff/Annie moments as some were).  As for "Political Science," I think I gotta go with petrichor11 on this one – those moments were definitely of the friend variety (though I can certainly see how they would provide fodder for shipping Tumblrs and fanvids).

  • Agreed; I thought the show pursuing Jeff-Annie effectively ended with APS, which is why it was disappointing to see them pick it back up for season 3.

  • It's strange how Season 2 is universally considered to be the show's strongest season by a fair margin, but it seems to have the highest amount of weak episodes. Just goes to show you how unbelievably strong the great stuff was.

  • I prefer season 3 overall, but I agree that when season 2's good, it's verygood. 3 of my 5 A+ episodes are from season 2, as are 7 of my top 15.

  • Yeah – my top 3 episodes are season 2 and my bottom 3 episodes are season 2 with season 3 and 1 rounding off my top and bottom 5's respectively.

  • I had "Interpretive Dance" at #26 and looking at my list, I could've put it as high as #21, but I was trying to put these debates we've been having for over a year out of my head and make semi-objective judgments count for at least 49% of my ranking.

    I'm still kind of confused by how people don't at least see it as being in the Top 10 of S1. It's a good character episode and funny, and it's basically the entirety of Professor Slater, as a character, a foil/GF for Jeff, and a comic partner for the study group and Dean Pelton.

    Like Lloyd said, the the Recital scene is perfectly executed. It wonderfully combines the humor of a number of characters (like how Pierce is being the clever one in his own mind when heckling the play) while advancing their stories. It's also genuinely uplifting while making fun of how silly and predetermined the whole plot is.

    "Art of Discourse" was #33 for me. I really like episodes which pick something to make fun of (like the teenagers and Jeff and Britta's reactions to them) and are just relentless and brutal about it, while not abandoning the sweeter and more well-meaning side of the show. Also it's a key episode in S1's Shirley/Pierce storyline.

    In general, I tend to be more willing to forgive a bad joke that gets in and out and is soon forgotten, as long as an episode fits comfortably into the larger story and character arcs. So while "Intro to Political Science" has a second act full of dopey jokes that are dismissive of several characters, it's important in how Jeff and Annie work within the emotional extremes they can go to, and why they remain friends. (Also, how Pierce can be a bully, then get over it and be somewhat reflective again.)

    On the other hand, "Asian Population Studies" makes a total hash of Jeff and Annie's friendship/tension and thinks we'll enjoy how much they flaunt not caring. Also it basically does the same thing to Chang/The Study Group, which matters less but is still kinda glib.

  • I forgot to even mention "Advanced Criminal Law" (#30 on my list). It's a key episode for developing Jeff and Britta's characters, and the first ep that suggested they could be much more human and complicated than the archetypes they first appeared to be.

    I'm kinda used to it being underrated by now, so it's not that big a deal. It has some clunkiness (it was re-written and restructured during shooting). But because Jeff and Britta are the central characters and relationship of the show, IMO, I put a pretty high value on the eps that are important for them.

    Also it makes good strides towards building the larger world of Greendale and it's relationship between the students of different ages and the makeshift authority figures (The Dean, Chang and Duncan).

  • Politics being this low is a bummer, but as anyone that filled out a list knows, the difference between the 50s and the 30s is miniscule. I love Advanced Criminal Law as well.