Glazomania: Redux – Episodes 63-71
The Opposite of Batman Episodes (Presented by AT&T)
71. Competitive Wine Tasting (220) (Average Score – 37.48)
(Average Grade – 1.67/C-) (Average Rank – 68.2) (High Rank – 59) (Low Rank – 71) (Standard Deviation – 0.619)
Well, one episode was bound to come in last place and it should come as no surprise this came in last. By Community standards, “Competitive Wine Tasting” is a lazy episode, that doesn't fit the show’s scheme. This episode, for the most part, is just completely unfocused. None of the plots connected with each other as well as they could have been. Not only is the lack of focus frustrating, but also the complete abandonment of the “Pierce is evil” storyline. It’s like they completely forgot about it. But out of all this, this episode still has some funny moments like Troy saying, “My emotions, MY EMOTIONS!” and Chang in the background saying, “Snap!”.
70. Contemporary Impressionists (312) (Average Score – 45.76)
(Average Grade – 2.03/C) (Average Rank – 63.5) (High Rank – 27) (High Rank – 71) (Standard Deviation – 0.862)
“Contemporary Impressionist” is just a flat out weird episode. That doesn't necessarily mean it’s a bad episode, just…. weird. This episode has a good concept, but has problems putting everything together. “Contemporary Impressionist” features some decent character development from Jeff and this episode almost serves entirely as a set-up for future Community episodes (i.e. Evil Abed, Chang mini army). Despite being one of the worst episodes of Community, this episode has some great moments, like Troy and Britta both impersonating Michael Jackson and Britta saying, “You have an unusually high buttcrack!”.
69. Geography of Global Conflict (302) (Average Score – 45.79)
(Average Grade – 2.04/C) (Average Rank – 63.1) (High Rank – 26) (Low Rank – 71) (Standard Deviation – 0.859)
Along with "Asian Population Studies," "Studies in Modern Movement" and a number of other episodes, GCC suffers from pacing and plotting issues. The concept is solid though: a number of major characters evolve in organic and fundamental ways: Britta abandons her hippie poser attitude and actually figures out what she wants to do with her life, Jeff finally articulates how he feels about Annie, and Annie understands his logic, but is not yet ready to accept it on an emotional level. Even Chang changes (ha!): like Britta, he finds an outlet to express his innermost desire, except, of course, the results are less heartwarming and more heart stopping. Sadly, however, only a few of these plot strands are properly developed. While the Model UN bits are very funny ("The tropical paradise of Somalia…"), Annie spends most of the episode in a shrill haze, and Britta's "protests" come awfully, uncomfortably close to something Family Guy may find humorous.
– Semi-bored Torontonian
68. Course Listing Unavailable (318) (Average Score – 50.17)
(Average Grade – 2.23/C+) (Average Rank – 59.3) (High Rank – 20) (Low Rank – 71) (Standard Deviation – 0.837)
What a great opening. That's what sprung to mind while re-watching this Season 3 episode. And it really is. Unfortunately, once that's over, Course Listing Unavailable goes off the rails. We see the group act unusually cruel to Greendale and an all round poorly executed second act drags the whole episode down. There are some fantastic character moments, especially involving Troy, but Chang's riot, his subsequent coup and the study groups expulsion all seem forced. As a single episode, even the emotive moments don't have the pay off as other episodes in the same season, never mind throughout Community's run. Chang as a character reaches one of his low points in this CLU, completely transforming into a cartoonish super villain with his own gang of henchmen and everything. The selfishness of the group which, when aimed at each other, often seems like an expression of love or a cry for attention from one another, turns into a cruel attack on Greendale and the Dean. Course Listing Unavailable makes me think we've been watching a different study group this whole time.
67. Custody Law and European Diplomacy (218) (Average Score – 50.70)
(Average Grade – 2.24/C+) (Average Rank – 59.7) (High Rank – 35) (Low Rank – 71) (Standard Deviation – 0.731)
A Chang-centric episode is always going to be tricky. Especially since ‘Custody Law’ continues the underwhelming ‘Who’s the Daddy?’ storyline which most fans will agree would’ve been best kept as a one-off joke in a certain Zombie episode. Thusly, the A-story represents a missed opportunity for a real, Chang-less Shirley and Andre episode. The B-story gets some solid laughs out of Enver Gjokaj’s amusing accent but is overall fairly throwaway.
66. Basic Genealogy (118) (Average Score – 52.05)
(Average Grade – 2.31/C+) (Average Rank – 60.2) (High Rank – 17) (Low Rank – 71) (Standard Deviation – 0.704)
Basic Genealogy reminds me a lot of Celebrity Pharmacology in a way. Both aren't terrible, but they feel like they belong to a different show than Community; a more standard sitcom, where plot points are based off of keeping secrets and misunderstandings. It doesn't help that the least interesting plot in the episode (with Jeff and Pierce's stepdaughter) gets the most time in the episode, when Katharine McPhee isn't that great of a screen presence (not that that should dissaude you from WATCHING SMASH!). The rest of the plots fare better (though I might have preferred more time spent with them), and Troy and Britta's plot culminates in one of my favorite images of the first season, Troy breaking down while Britta gets switched. For that image alone, I can't give it anything in the C-range, but it still sits in the lower ranks of the show, a perfectly fine episode for many other sitcoms, but kind of a disappointing one for this sitcom.
65. Celebrity Pharmacology (213) (Average Score – 52.56)
(Average Grade – 2.33/C+) (Average Rank – 59.9) (High Rank – 34) (Low Rank – 71) (Standard Deviation – 0.691)
Celebrity Pharmacology is not among the very small number of Community episodes I actively dislike. It has a number of minor pleasures, as virtually all episodes of Community do. Still, by the standards of the show, this is a very weak episode indeed. The humor is not particularly strong; the clowning around of Pierce and Chang on stage isn't nearly as funny as it could be. There is a rather dumb and inexplicable subplot involving Britta's nephew which is only redeemed by Abed's metatextual disgust for the stupidity of the whole thing; his stony, wordless glare at Jeff is one of the episode's most memorable moments. It's as if he perceives the weakness of the storyline more than the writers did. The Chang and Shirley subplot bogs the episode down even further. Neither Chang nor Shirley comes off particularly well, for though Chang is horrifically creepy, I still find Shirley's remark that it would be inhuman to remind her that she ever stooped so low as to sleep with him rather despicable. I love the relationship between Pierce and Annie as it was developed in Season 2, but even that doesn't quite work here. I find the scene in Annie's apartment rather effective, but I have a hard time buying that Annie would accept Pierce's help so easily, and an even harder time buying that she would allow him to hold it over her head for so long. Pierce's treatment of Annie later in the episode also strikes me as too cruel to the member of the group he would identify as his favorite. Still, I find it impossible to entirely dislike an episode that provides as much insight into Annie's standard of living as this one. The image of Annie living in such a comically girlish apartment above a dildo store is a beautifully surrealistic expression of her circumstances, and for that alone I can rank this episode above the series true low points.
64. Competitive Ecology (303) (Average Score – 53.33)
(Average Grade – 2.36/C+) (Average Rank – 56.6) (High Rank – 22) (Low Rank – 71) (Standard Deviation – 0.827)
When looking at a list of the very best episodes of Community, one may notice that Chang does not appear in a bunch of episodes. When he does, it's usually only briefly, but in a memorable fashion (AD&D, Modern Warfare, etc.) Thus, the fact that almost half of Competitive Ecology deals with a Chang plot that doesn't involve any of the other main characters (except for Dean at the end) is a red flag. While there are some good jokes in Chang's plot, it's hard to care about and it doesn't really feel like a Community plot. My main gripe with the A-story is that the members of the study group don't behave like their characters should. It's disconcerting how much the characters have regressed if you compare this episode to season 1's Investigative Journalism. While there are some good gags such as "palomino" and the list making, Competitive Ecology is ultimately a low-tier Community episode.
63. Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts (222) (Average Score – 55.27)
(Average Grade – 2.45/C+) (Average Rank – 56.8) (High Rank – 32) (Low Rank – 71) (Standard Deviation – 0.726)
Applied Anthropology is one of those episodes that I would skip in a rewatch. It's a bottle episode that features the final exit of our favorite Psych professor. Duncan's quick exit immediately after the credits pretty much signals how the rest of the episode is going to go. Shirley's having her baby and it's a major disappointment for those of us that hoped Harmon would laugh at the whole convention and have it happen off-screen.
Chang gets some good lines about the legend of Chang babies and Britta's reaction to the beauty of child birth is pretty funny. Troy, Abed, and Pierce get the C-story and pretty much nothing happens. Annie is also in the episode. The best part about this episode is that the money saved by doing it probably allowed the epic double paintball episode that closes out the season.
– "Throw paper balls at her until she sits down!"
– "All Changs are born with tails"
– Callback to Abed already delivering a baby, and that it wasn't worth mentioning to anyone else in the group when it happened.
– Duncan literally runs for it: http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…
Next group up is Pizza is Pizza (Presented by Eugenio's) that starts with a bit of a surprise……