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.
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.
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