Glazomania: Redux – Episodes 10-13

The Greendale Film Festival (Presented by Cool Abed Films)

And here we stand on the edge of greatness. We've just barely entered the top ten, and from here on out they're all classics. We're also knee deep in concept episodes, which provide the bulk of the top end of Community episodes. Here we have a small group and they're united by the power of cinema. And these episodes aren't at the top because they're silly genre smashers and we only want to see wacky ideas. These episodes are a shot to the arm with pure humor and characterization done with the utmost care and precision.

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13. Documentary Filmmaking: Redux (308) (Average Score – 85.95)

(Average Grade – 3.77/A-) (Average Rank – 18.5) (High Rank – 2) (Low Rank – 60) (Standard Deviation – 12.09)

Why go Greendale? Turns out it's not just for its awful basketball program, the most advanced typing class in the greater southwestern Greendale area, or for the fact that IMDB legend Luis Guzmán is a celebrated alumnus. In a long overdue showcase for Dean Pelton, our favorite "happy, pansexual imp" comes to realize what we as viewers already know: that Greendale's most precious resource is its students. But despite this seemingly obvious revelation, Redux manages to plumb the depths of the Dean's fragile psyche in reaching this conclusion. Megan Ganz's brilliant script duplicates the format of her Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking, but never becomes stale because Abed's documentary framework is used to reveal some harsh, inherent truth; namely, that the Dean is not as cheerful as he appears because he is harboring some deep insecurities regarding his role as the guardian of Greendale. 

Redux accomplishes a lot in a half hour, but it's particularly memorable for its judicious use of Chang (he's literally dying), Crazy Annie, Jeff's own descent into baldcap-induced madness, Troy and Britta's escalating series of distraught hugs, and Guzmán's nuggets of wisdom. But what's really remarkable is how the Dean's struggle to create his masterpiece suddenly, in the final third of the episode, becomes a clear analogy for Dan Harmon's own conflicts with the higher-ups at NBC. In just one line ("It's better than good; it's good enough"), the trustees reveal their own nonchalant, profit-motivated agenda. Art isn't relevant. All that matters is that the crazy Chinese guy really "pops". But Redux isn't a near-classic episode of Community just because it's the ultimate love letter to Dan Harmon and to the show itself. Perhaps more importantly, it succeeds at what so many other season 3 episodes somehow neglect to do: treat the Dean as an actual, sympathetic human being with hopes and ambitions, rather than as a rotating series of wacky costumes.

–          Melted Kojak

 

12. Regional Holiday Music (310) (Average Score – 86.18)

(Average Grade – 3.78/A-) (Average Rank – 19.1) (High Rank – 2) (Low Rank – 55) (Standard Deviation – 7.98)

Regional Holiday Music is a wonderful tongue-in-cheek take down of a mainstream television series, while also functioning as a warm and endearing love letter to the cult show we all love. It has no real effect on the longterm plotting of season 3, and it works all the better because of it. It also helps that Mr. Rad is hands-down one of the best side characters the show has ever introduced, played brilliantly by Taran Killam. From the opening psychotic breakdown to the chilling final lines of music about seeing us after “regionals,” it’s a pitch perfect of everything Community excels at. Of course our community would have formed regardless of the episode aired, but it can’t be a coincidence that an episode this brilliant is where it all started.

–          AffroSponge88

 

11. Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking (216) (Average Score – 87.86)

(Average Grade – 3.85/A) (Average Rank – 15.7) (High Rank – 2) (Low Rank – 37) (Standard Deviation – 6.92)

The evolution of Pierce from old-racist-guy into a villain is solidified in a tribute to the documentary format. While this character development may have felt a bit rushed, it's hard to argue against it as it makes this episode what it is. The exploration of Jeff's father issues playing out in parallel with Pierce's insecurities about himself, his place in the group and in hindsight his own father, is the cornerstone of the episode. While this is a heavy topic for a comedy, the ending presents the idea that if they can both help each other out, then they can become better people deeps into the emotional crux of the show and the study groups evolution as individuals, pairs, groups and as a whole and continues for the rest of the series.
 
The fallout from Pierce's actions brings us the highlight from the episode: Troy.
He doesn't say a lot besides his like of LeVar Burton, drumkits, singing the theme to Reading Rainbow, a Firefly reference and yelling frustration, but his facial reactions and him crying are absolutely priceless. It's always great to see the emotional side of Troy – it's always written/acted/directed flawlessly no matter whether it's played for emotion or laughs and helps continue Troy on his acceptance of himself, his differences and his place as a leader.
 
The banter between Jeff and Britta is at a high, Abed throws out some great meta-commentary, there's no Chang, Shirley has a guilt trip and we are once again shown the amazing skills of the Community cast and crew and their dedication to the format, the show and the characters. What more could you ask for?

–          Dr. Regina Phalange

 

10. Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design (209) (Average Score – 88.93)

(Average Grade – 3.89/A) (Average Rank – 14.0) (High Rank – 1) (Low Rank – 32) (Standard Deviation – 7.25)

Coming near the end of Community's magnificent 2010, Conspiracy Theories was at the time of its airing perhaps the most unorthodox episode of Community yet; the group is separated to an unusual extent, and the tone of the episode is unlike that of any other. As a result, the episode manages to be really, really funny. This is one of the very finest Jeff-Annie episodes; they may be investigating a nonexistent conspiracy, but the focus of the episode is always on their interactions with one another. The conclusion is magnificently farcical, but it also incorporates some fine character work; Annie says she doesn't mean what she says to Jeff in front of the Dean, but the audience is left to wonder how true that is. It's a subtle and fitting conclusion to an excellent episode.

–          Janine Restrepo

 

26 LIKES

http://www.avclub.com/articles/digital-estate-planning-the-first-chang-dynasty-in,73676/#comment-774363354 (739)

 

Discussion:

    • And then there were nine (none of which rank lower than 16th on my list)…

      A little disappointed that "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking" just barely missed the top ten, but at least I can be happy knowing it got the first "A" grade.

    • reuelb5427

      16. Regional Holiday Music
      11. Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking
      7. Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design
      2. Documentary Filmmaking: Redux

      So, I finally was the high rank for something (DFR). But the more I think about the more I think I underrated Conspiracy Theories. It's without a doubt my favorite episode and probably the one I think is the funniest too. I really think I should have put it number 1…

    • High rank buddy!  I had DFR at 2 also!

    • But it defeats the purpose of a high rank if more than one person has it!

    • The Narrator Returns I'm sorry.  Uhhh…I had it at 2.3?

    • Ugh, now you're bringing metrics into this! The metric system never solved anything (sorry SBT)!

    • Two more of my top 10 out: DFR and Conspiracy Theories…

    • Poor Delano Franklin Roosevelt…

    • IDF missing the top 10 means my top 10 perfect match is ruined.  

      23. Documentary Filmmaking Redux
      16. Regional Holiday Music
      10. Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking (I should have had this higher)
      3. Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design

      The Pierce subplot in Redux was an annoying mar on the episode for me, the rest of the episodes remaining on this list in the top 9 are perfect.

    • Is it just me or did anyone else like Doc Film-making: Redux more than Inter. Doc Film-making? Both were excellent but I just preferred Redux

    • Have you seen Doc. Filmmaking: Redux? Waaay better than Inter. Doc. Filmmaking.

    • IT'S MEEEE, LUIS GUZMAN

    • reuelb5427

      I liked it better too. Jim Rash in that episode is perfect.

    • In a perfect world, Jim Rash would have gotten an Emmy for that episode. Now all he needs is that Grammy and Tony

    • The montage in Modern Movement should score him at least one of those two.

       
    • And don't forget this
      http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…
      And some other costumes

       
    • I was just going to say I want to argue that Redux is clearly superior. Here's the short form of the argument: it's a Dean episode, not a Pierce episode. This is the only instance of a sequel episode (using a concept from an earlier episode like the second paintball) being my favorite one. But I actually think they do their sequels well. The second clip show was cool because the clips served a purpose and we got the asylum scene.

       
    • I would say that IDF is more of a Jeff and Pierce episode rather than a Pierce episode.  

       
    • Why is a Dean episode inherently better than a Pierce episode?

       
    • Redux has the biggest standard deviation of the 4 episode here, so it's safe to say it's more divisive than Inter. Doc Filmmaking.

       
    • reuelb5427

      Wait, what's a standard deviation anyways?

       
    • just sayin': levar burton is a better guest star than luis guzman.

       
    • Sure, and Gus is a better guest than the pizza guy, but that doesn't make Digital better than RCT.

       
    • levar burton woulda made DEP better than RC–oh, who am i kidding?

       
    • Me! I love IDF, but I'm in love with Redux.

       
    • Redux definitely stuck with me more right away than Inter. did.  Although part of that was because I was just a more focused viewer by the time of Season 3.  I definitely still prefer Redux, but whatever explanation I can think of right now for why it's better feels nitpicky, since they're both excellent.

       
    • 12. Documentary Filmmaking: Redux
      11. Regional Holiday Music
      10. Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking
      7. Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design

       
    • I even enjoyed the Pierce part to it. I laughed so much during Redux for every cast member's moments in the episode

       
    • Dot what, Pollos, DOT WHAT!?

       
    • 39. Regional Holiday Music
      28. Documentary Filmmaking: Redux
      11. Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking
      10. Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design

      Hey look, two of these episodes are exactly where I wanted them.

       
    • Affrosponge88

      Oh yeah, Stephen, because it's allllll about what YOU want!

       
    • 18. RHM
      16. IDF
      9. Conspiracy Theories
      8. Redux

      Troy and Britta's escalating series of distraught hugs
      Ha, I love that. Distraught hugs.

      Also, fuck you until the end of time, Disqus.

       
    • Hey, I wrote that! Thanks!

      *hugs snowmania*

       
    • 17. Doc
      16. Doc: Redux
      13. Regional Holiday Music
      11. Conspiracy Theories

       
    • i'll admit to being pretty harsh on RHM–had it at 54. i like it all right, but damn, the music in it is generally kinda bad to my ears. i find it amusing, but i feel like they coulda done better with it.

       
    • I agree with you, even though I had it at 32. It's a decent enough episode, but I can't help but feel like it was WAAAAAY overrated partly as a result of it being the last pre-hiatus episode.

       
    • I'm with both of you. It doesn't feel like a complete episode to me. The ending is pretty abrupt with Abed deciding he was wrong and then the group meeting up at casa Trobed. It didn't feel entirely earned. I've pointed out before that it's essentially the same setup as AUC with less substance so that hurts its case also.

       
    • Regional Holiday Music-8
      Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking-14
      Documentary Filmmaking: Redux-17
      Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design-29

      I've got a reasonable amount of disagreement with the group at large, considering how high we are. I have Conspiracy Theories ranked so low because of the buildup required to get to the batshit crazy/ridiculously awesome climax. Like a good conspiracy thriller, some groundwork has to be laid before you get to the big payoff. While I recognize this slow build was at the same time necessary and a homage to the films that inspired the episode, it drags the first couple acts down for me.

       
    • 58. Documentary Filmmaking: Redux
      14. Regional Holiday Music
      4. Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking
      5. Conspiracy Theories & Interior Design

      That IDF and Redux are ranked so close together is pretty disappointing.  IDF is waaaaaay better.  They're light years apart.

       
    • @gauephat I've said it before but I think IDF is the most underrated episode of this show, and even I did it on my own list.

       
    • IDF might be the best written episode of the series. No word is wasted, which is probably why every word is immensely quotable. 

       
    • i'm curious why you ranked redux so low.

       
    • I'm curious what makes you so curious.

       
    • probably the bees in my stomach.

       
    • I agree with your take on the Dean's role, but I would say Abed's story is legitimately great. I wrote about it in the Redux comments:http://www.avclub.com/articles…

       
    • DavetheDouchebag

      15. Documentary Filmmaking: Redux
      27. Regional Holiday Music
      11. Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking
      18. Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design

       
    • Affrosponge88

      I seem to be missing a word in my blurb. In order to keep the conversation going, I will never reveal what that word would have been.

       
    • "Butterflies"?

       
    • Wow, looks like I was the low rank for Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking. Love that episode, but do feel like Documentary Filmmaking: Redux outdid it in every way (it was #5 on my list).

       
    • Am I the only one who doesn't like the end of Conspiracy Theories? I just thought it was messy and not funny. And I liked Arrested Development's version of it. I love the episode and all, but I'm actually surprised it's number ten. It just doesn't feel like, say, RHM or Mixology. More like pleasantly above average with a silly plot. 
       
      Of course, the twist of professor Professorson being real was great. But that doesn't make an entire episode. 
       
      And it's sad that the reviews that created us aren't top ten: the three episodes here, RHM and heck even second paintball.

       
    • I love the CT ending. It just amps up the hysteria, until it culminates into Officer Kakovski's utterly nonsensical gun safety wisdom: "In 100% of fake gun related shootings, the victim is the one with the fake gun."

       
    • i don't understand why that isn't the slogan of the nra.

    • Agree about the ending. Love the rest of the episode, but that scene feels like the writers were completely mimicking Arrested Development without realizing it.

       
    • reuelb5427

      I love the ending to Conspiracy Theories. The level of insanity there was (and still is) just perfect for me.

       
    •  Yeah. In AD the joke was that the sudden reversals were both logical and justified, because characters saw through each other's pathetically thin attempts at lesson-teaching. The end of CT on the other hand is just an escalation of increasingly implausible twists, which, if you think carefully about them, make no allergic sense. I'm still not sure who was supposed to have tricked whom and when.

       
    • I kind of thought that it was lampooning silly conspiracy movies, where the ending usually ends up being an overly complex, incomprehensible twist.

       
    • THE REST OF THE EPISODE MADE THE ENTIRE EPISODE, GEEZ

      I love the ending.

       
    • Also, no, it doesn't feel like RHM or Mixology or any other episode. That's why it's so damn special! That's why it's this high!

       
    • I'm not utterly crazy about it, either. I like it now, but the first couple of times it just felt like an AD ripoff.

       
    • Something Quirky

      Jeez, spoiler alert!

      But I agree, I thought it got a bit too messy. I probably liked it more upon rewatch, because then it wasn't as "What?!?".

       
    • I loved it the first time even with almost all of it flying over my head, which is rare for me because plot confusion instantly takes me out of things. Several viewings later when I decided to actually pay attention, that magic moment of getting everything was that much more thrilling and it rose even greater in my esteem. I think the nonsensical plot is one of its best features because it convinces you that it all matters regardless. I loved how serious Annie was about it and it's neat foreshadowing of her relationship with guns.

       
    • Documentary Filmmaking: Redux – 4
      Regional Holiday Music – 41
      Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking – 12
      Conspiracy Theories & Interior Design – 17

      I'm going to join the love of Redux (and protest its relatively low ranking a little). Besides being very, very funny ("I MADE BALD FRIENDS!"), it's also an incredibly moving episode, and it deserves all the praise in the world for ever so slightly amping up the emotional content until, by the time the Dean confesses to molesting the ice cream machine, you don't laugh as much as you feel compassion and love for the guy. And it's to the immense credit of the episode that it takes a really hackneyed concept (goofy, easy going guy is secretly having issues and, you know,cares) spinning it into something true and human, and moreover, having it reverberate over the following episodes (S3 included) to such an extent that, personally, I was never able to think of the Dean as just a goofy costume delivery vehicle. I don't think I've ever seen something like that on a show.

      And to boot, the episode also doubles as a powerful examination of the creative impulse. And it has the defining line of Luis Guzman's career: "I loved my time here! I got laid like crazy… And that was way before Boogie Nights too."

       
    • The fact that so many people value DFR so highly will definitely make me revisit that one at the soonest available moment and reevaluate. Yay! Homework. 

       
    • Okay, so I checked real quick, and maybe I made a mistake, but no one has his/her top ten align with our group top ten. Someone IS close, however. This person's top nine were all in the top ten, and the tenth episode (Conspiracy) … was ranked 12th. So close!

       
    • Whoever this person is sounds very, very smart. And extraordinarily handsome.

       
    • Affrosponge88

      It wouldn't mean they're smart, it'd mean they're the most bland, obvious, average and thoroughly not unique person ever to exist.

      Ha! I mean… They're so smart!

       
    • That asshole probably only submitted a list because they wanted to win the prize for accurately guessing the top episodes.

      …Wait, there is a prize, right??

       
    • This "handsome, smart" fellow also actually had the same top 12. Impressive!

       
    • I have the same top 71!

       
    • I don't. I substituted a few out for some Sanford and Son episodes that I really enjoy.

       
    • Noooooooooooooo!

      I was the Conspiracy Theories #1. I just couldn't find an episode that I loved more than this one, despite the complete lack of Britta/Pierce/Shirley. It's obvious why they cut the Pierce and Shirley go to get burgers story, because every moment of this episode is amazing from start to finish without it.

      "Would that this desk were a time desk"
      "A tiny underwhelming message"
      Because it's a brighter tomorrow "Yeah. It is" (great reading by Brie)
      "Fact. In 100% of all fake gun shootings, the victim is always the one with the fake gun."
      "Enjoy eating fiber and watching the Mentalist."
      "I've always dreamed of playing charades with you, Jeffrey. Just not like this. And not on dry land."

      21. Redux
      36. Intermediate Doc
      1. Conspiracy Theories
      10. Regional Holiday Music

       
    • The lack of Britta is made up for by her Eyes Wide Shut-esque appearance in the pillow fort.

       
    • Pillowmen propaganda! It was a blanket fort!

       
    • 46. Documentary Filmmaking: Redux
      37. Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking
      11. Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design
      3. Regional Holiday Music

       
    • I had the IDF high rank. Quality episode.

       
    • 30. Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design
      17. Documentary Filmmaking: Redux11. Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking
      5. Regional Holiday Music

      I'm pretty surprised RHM isn't in the top 10.

       
    • 27. Regional Holiday Music
      12. Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking
      9. Documentary Filmmaking Redux
      2. Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design

       
    •  Hello there, IDF agreeabuddy…

       
    • reuelb5427

      I really should have put Conspiracy Theories number 1.

       
    • The final ranking for Conspiracy Theories is a conspiracy that goes all the way to slightly above the middle.

    • I hope it's not impolite of me to gatecrash this topic, as I haven't made an entry on this forum for a few months (during which time you crazily awesome motherfuckers racked up almost 50000 more comments), but this topic is just too fucking awesome to ignore. I think about my top five Community episodes almost daily.  (As I do of my top 10 all time vintage porn stars, but that's another topic for another time and place and message board.) Of the list you got up there, they square up like this for me:

      Probably makes it into my top 20. Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking 
      Probably makes it into my top 25: Documentary Filmmaking: Redux
      5. Regional Holiday Music
      2. Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design

      Sorry, but I haven't actually spent the time thinking beyond probably my top 15. I'll think about it some more, but yay! to anyone who values Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design as highly as I do. A similar shout-out to anyone who also has 1.17 (Physical Education), 3.16 (Virtual Systems Analysis) and 2.19 (Critical Film Studies) in their top 5.

      Can't wait to see the rest of this list. Fuck man! If only I hadn't stayed away from this forum for fucking months. I coulda been part of the voting. Hope you guys who did vote made the responsible choice of having 3.16 at number 1.

       
    • By the way, I blame my self-diagnosed ADD for having stayed away from this forum for so long. I was probably too busy being distracted by any and all noises, shiny objects and, of course, Ride The Lighting. 

       
    • Thanks SG. Good to be back.

       
    • If only you had been here to push VSA up farther!

      • Something Quirky

        Was there an episode that had a bigger difference between highest rank and lowest rank than Doco:Redux?

         
      • Epidemiology. High rank of 3, low rank of 70.

         
      • Janine – why no mention of Kevin Corrigan?

        Cool, cool, cool to see Conspiracy as our first with a HR of 1.  I had it 6th, and it was my original choice as the best of Season 2.  Needless to say, I really like Kevin Corrigan and conspiracy spoofs.

         
      • 37. Documentary: Redux
        35. RHM
        15. Conspiracy Theories
        11. Intermediate Documentary

        In terms of greatness, I think Redux and RHM are a bit overrated. I love Abed's story in Redux as a final part in a trilogy (plus "shorts" in between) of him learning about people and stories through film. The Dean's story, though, doesn't really resonate for me because it was kinda cheesy and Harmon's voice overpowers it. Harmon's voice in Abed's story is just the right amount of Harmon.

        Conspiracy Theories is just pure comedy genius. I had seen Pier Pressure but it never even entered my mind as Community ripping it off. Even when it was pointed out on the commentary I didn't really buy the connection. And anyway, CTID is a "buttload" better, i.e. a lot.

         
      •  RHM is pretty overrated – it's sweet and pleasant, but that's about it.

        Redux may be cheesy, but Rash sells it so well that he just propels it into real emotional authenticity. It really is an actor's episode.

         
      • I don't really get what makes RHM a great episode of Community. It's a fun episode – I have it at 39 so it's an episode I quite enjoy – but it doesn't tread any new territory. Abed's story is really quite similar to what was explored in AUC already; both episodes are about Abed wanting the perfect Christmas. However, whereas AUC deals with Abed's sense of abandonment from his mother – adding a real sense of pathos to the episode – this one is simply about Abed wanting the group together because he likes liking things. The stakes aren't as strong; they're trivial in comparison.

        And, for that reason, when the study group rallies around him in the end, it doesn't feel as significant as it did when they did so in AUC. It's a nice heartwarming moment, but it's something you'd see on Parks these days and something we criticize Parks for all the time. Furthermore, the episode is also just too preoccupied with the Glee virus for that ending to feel as earned as it did in AUC. The episode meanders.

        Basically, it's the superficial version of AUC. The pieces are a lot of fun, and the songs contain some very nice character moments (although, hell, the songs are even better in AUC), but it doesn't add up to a satisfying whole characteristic of the truly great episodes of Community.

        (Edit: The things I do love about this episode: "Teach Me How to Understand Christmas" and Taran Killam.)