Glazomania: Redux – Episodes 20-24

Artificial Community (Presented by Senor Kevin's)

This is an odd group. From robotic cops to simulated realities, this is Community trying on a bunch of different hats. We're also entering the region where concept episodes are the majority.

Community3x16_0495

24. Virtual Systems Analysis (316) (Average Score – 80.28)

(Average Grade – 3.53/A-) (Average Rank – 26.2) (High Rank – 3) (Low Rank – 66) (Standard Deviation – 15.23)

While this may be a challenging, unorthodox episode that embodies the complaint that Community went too far up its own ass in season 3, it comes close enough to extricating itself from said ass to still rate as a well above average episode. 
 
Some moments rise to the level of the best we have come to expect from Community, such as Troy’s Inception freakout, Joel McHale playing Danny Pudi’s interpretation of Abed’s vision of Annie’s perception of Jeff, and the entirety of Annie’s speech in the locker. However, it takes a bit of setup to get to the funny stuff, even longer to get to the really deep emotional stuff, and Annie’s claim that she was in love with the idea of being in love doesn’t ring true at all, based on her actions in other episodes.
 
Much like some other episodes in season 3, a less than stellar start is redeemed by a beautiful and devastatingly emotional final act. Ultimately, there are a few quibbles and character beats that just feel off that keep this from being a top tier episode of Community. VSA had great ambitions that were ultimately slightly out of reach, but only slightly.
–          SG Standard

 

23. Pillows and Blankets (314) (Average Score – 81.02)

(Average Grade – 3.56/A-) (Average Rank – 25.7) (High Rank – 2) (Low Rank – 65) (Standard Deviation – 13.32)

This is just one of those episodes of Community that you couldn't believe managed to air on prime-time network television.
 
As a man who has watched a ton of Ken Burns documentary specials over the years, I found it mesmerizing to watch just how spot-on "Pillows and Blankets" was in copying its look, tone, and storytelling techniques back when it first aired.  Whether it's the "famous actor" (in this case, the Morgan Freeman impersonator from "Contemporary Impressionist") beginning the episode by reading a quote, the use of Leonard and the blind guy as the resident "old eyewitness/historian testimonials," the manner in which they introduced the episode's featured players, or even the narration by Keith David (narrator of such previous Burns works as The War and The Tenth Inning), many of the documentaries' trademarks were there, made hilarious when its seriousness was juxtaposed with a subject as absurd and mundane as a community college pillow fight. But the spoofing elements wasn't the only thing which made the episode memorable, or any of the show's great concept episodes for that matter. "Pillows and Blankets" served as the climax to the two-part Troybed conflict arc that began in "Digital Exploration in Interior Design," which managed to be compelling through the level of nastiness the two got at each other, from Abed pointing out Troy's weakness to Troy's equally hurtful e-mail response . Some criticized the way the episode managed to wrapped this arc by having the two bury the hatchet without any ripple effects to their friendship later on in season three, and while these people have a legitimate complaint, Jeff going to the Dean's office to find and give them their magical friendship hats was still a genuinely sweet moment that also managed to avoid going overly sappy thanks to Jeff giving the documentary crew his journal entry in another moment of self-absorption. Other highlights included Britta's terrible photography work, the Changlorious Basterds (arguably the best use of Chang in season three), Pierce's horrifying fighting suit, "Leonard likes this post," and the confusing explanation of English Memorial and the North Cafeteria battleground.
–          Not the Real Randy Jackson

 

22. Romantic Expressionism (115) (Average Score – 81.07)

(Average Grade – 3.57/A-) (Average Rank – 26.5) (High Rank – 4) (Low Rank – 61) (Standard Deviation – 14.38)

Some episodes of Community are just really, really funny. Romantic Expressionism is one of the best episodes of the show because it contains countless classic scenes and moments. This is the episode that brought us Kickpuncher! Leonard and the macaroni (it's messed up that he knows)! And of course, it has one of the greatest study room scenes ever, which Todd described as: "secrets come out and everyone tosses sarcastic putdowns at each other and then the characters all make kinda creepy eyes at each other." This episode really has a hangout feel to it. Part of this is because a significant amount of the episode is the cast watching a movie, but even the Jeff-Britta scenes have this great low-key energy. 
 
Other things I love about this episode: the score and the pacing. This episode really flows. Just look at how the "weirdest boner" scene goes into the scene where Pierce is with Derrick Comedy.  Troy is really funny in this episode. Pierce falling down for comedic effect is used more than once this season, but it really works here. Also, Britta looks great and the tag is one of the best ever.
–          digifreak

 

21. Digital Estate Planning (320) (Average Score – 81.33)

(Average Grade – 3.57/A-) (Average Rank – 24.6) (High Rank – 3) (Low Rank – 60 (Standard Deviation – 12.67)

If only LeVar Burton had been more than a "maybe," this episode may just have been a little farther up the list. Community is a show that makes its concept episodes work on both a comedic and emotional level, and Digital Estate Planning is no different. Pierce's road to redemption following his season 2 …erm…antics?…has been a rocky one but comes to a bit of a head in DEP, finally finding a family that isn't headed by a racist, ivory clad, crazy person. The episode is beautifully rendered, looking like every fourth generation computer game we played when growing up, if with a tad more racism and all round hatred towards humanity then most 4g games. It also contains two scenes that never fail to make my sides hurt. Annie and Shirley accidentally murdering the blacksmith and his wife before stealing everything they own is just brilliant, again showcasing the sheer awesomeness of that particular duo, before burning the house down to cover their tracks. And of course, Abed's army of children. It was a bit predictable that Abed would somehow be the savior when he stayed behind with Hilda, but I doubt many of us thought it would have been through an army of child miners he had created. The initial reveal still gets me every time. The biggest problem facing this episode was it's odd placing in the season, making Pierce's accepting of his friends and Gilbert a little less punch. All in all though, Digital Estate Planning deserves it's high entry on the list, bringing us all the comedic value and emotional resonance we expect from an episode as well as cute as hell avatars and references to Mega Man and Super Mario Brothers. What more could you ask for?

–          Hector the Well Endowed

 

20. Introduction to Statistics (107) (Average Score – 81.94)

(Average Grade – 3.61/A-) (Average Rank – 25.5) (High Rank – 7) (Low Rank – 56) (Standard Deviation – 10.22)

For many, Introduction to Statistics was the first episode to indicate what an exceptional series Community could potentially become. Jeff’s struggle to maintain some semblance of his lawyer lifestyle (in this case, being a smooth operator with the ladies) and still remain loyal to his newly-found Greendale family appears mostly front and center here, but the way the rest of the study group is utilized all throughout is fairly impressive. Everyone is given a moment to shine by means of revealing character development, hilarious comic material or a combination of the two. We learn of Annie’s social scarring in high school while being treated to her clever hallway manipulation techniques; we witness Shirley’s repressed rage towards the woman who broke up her marriage after chuckling heartily at her ambiguous costume; we understand and empathize with Pierce’s fear of mortality via a crazy-bad acid trip; we are impressed by Abed’s strong sense of self, not through his incredible Batman persona, but his momentary suspension of it; and, we notice Troy subtly becoming more open to an unconventional friendship during a conversation about donut cannibalism. Furthermore, Britta dresses up as a squirrel and it is possibly one of the most adorable things of life. Thus, the tradition of fantastic Hallowe’en episodes (Mexican or otherwise… hehe) begins.

–          sll03
 

24 LIKES

http://www.avclub.com/articles/digital-estate-planning-the-first-chang-dynasty-in,73676/#comment-770527044 (page 728)

Discussion:

  • Dangit! I was sure I was gonna have the highest ranking for DEP at 4.

     
  •  Whoever had that at #3 has my eternal love.

     
  • Dammit. Missed it by one spot…

     
  •  I have it at 19, so I probably should hate myself about now…

     
  • He doesn't really post here anymore.

  • WE HAVE TO FIND THIS KETTLE-CORN POPPING PHANTOM!

     
  • I had it higher but eventually bumped it down a few spots. It could have been as high as 3 for me, honestly. In a season of "I can't believe this is on my TV", that one was the most ridiculous, in addition to quite possibly being the most purely funny episode of the show. 

     
  • It was almost #3 for me, but Critical Film Studies won out in the end.

     
  •  Yay! CFS rankbuddies!

     
  • That's reasonable. I struggled with placement for CFS, and I feel like I underrated it in the end. The Jeff and Abed stuff is absurdly good, and I don't feel like I gave it enough credit for those scenes. 

     
  • whoo! high rank on vsa!

     
  • I'm the high rank on "Romantic Expressionism" and I'm almost embarrassed I put it so low (it was #2 on the Top 10 I posted on the RCT review).

     
  • Actually, menocu was the high rank on that episode. I made a typo.

     
  • sll03

    You rule, Glaz! I would totally give a tuppence for that sticky wicket! Every time I watch VSA, I love it even more; by the time we have Glazomania: Redux: Further Reducted, it may crack my Top 10.

     
  • If we were to be doing our lists now, I might change mine so that it would turn out that I would be the high rank for VSA, or we would be the tie-high rank.

  • 65. Virtual Systems Analysis
    49. Pillows and Blankets
    32. Digital Estate Planning
    18. Introduction to Statistics
    9. Romantic Expressionism

    Pillows and Blankets is one episode that I like a lot less now than I did when it aired. It all feels really pointless in retrospect.

     
  • reuelb5427

    63. Virtual Systems Analysis
    24. Digital Estate Planning
    18. Introduction to Statistics
    17. Romantic Expressionism 
    13. Pillows and Blankets

     
  • Peanut and Butter does seem pretty pointless now, doesn't it, but not more than DEP. And I'm just realizing I have the low rank, which is exactly like having the high score in a video game if you don't think about it at all.

     
  • I agree with this, but mostly I don't?

    Stuff like DEP and P&B may not have much impact in terms of character development, but it speaks to the strength of that development that the group never loses consistency or cohesion even as they're thrust in increasingly unrealistic scenarios. They continue to be very believablythemselves, which is no small achievement, considering just how insane S3 got.

    And I do think that DEP is an excellent episode, much better than P&B. Its impact is a bit diminished by its placement, but it does offer Pierce some semblance of closure (and you get Gus Fring excitedly describing a giant margarita as a bonus!)

    VSA: 33
    P&B: 50
    Romantic Expressionism: 46
    DEP: 19
    Intro to Stats: 25

     
  • sll03

    I fully support your assessment of Digital Estate Planning > Pillow & Blankets with the stipulation that I find both to be fantastic episodes. 

    That being said: 46 for Romantic Expressionism? 46?! 46?!?! I am no longer comfortable sharing this city with you. You must move immediately; I feel as though this is a perfectly reasonable request.

     
  • It's not that I don't like RE, it's that I like other episodes more (what I'm saying is that most of my list was basically Sophie's Choice times 69 – I am of course totally not exaggerating).

    I guess it all comes down to what people consider to be Community's greatest quality. Some think it's at its best as a character piece. I think it's at its best when it takes a relatively conservative form like the sitcom, and bends and twists it into something that's barely recognizable, and yet immensely funny and satisfying.

    (oh, and I also don't like Annie's song in RE all that much – it's a bit too cutesy for me. Please don't chase me off with torches and pitchforks).

     
  • sll03

    *sharpens pitchfork*

    Kidding! I completely understand where you're coming from. Each episode simply has so much to offer and often does just that in surprisingly unique and fairly fresh ways. Choosing stand-outs becomes an almost impossible task by virtue of the fact that the show is basically comprised of several different iterations of itself; it functions as multiple series all rolled up into one diabolically awesome whole. We have the Community that is shamelessly hilarious, but we also have the one that is morose and reflective. We have theCommunity that is pop culture and homage-laden, but we also have the one that is self-aware and meta. We have the Community that tells a serialized story, but we also have the one that fits entire arcs into a mere 22 minutes. How can anyone possibly pick a favourite when faced with all of that? So, by that logic, I suppose I can find it in my heart to let you stay here… for now. You're on probation.

    (Probation revoked. Turn in your maple syrup and your snowshoes.)

     
  •  You can have my snowshoes; it hasn't snowed nearly enough for me to use them. But I ate all the maple syrup, I'm afraid.

     
  • sll03

    Darn it. Please don't tell me all the poutine is gone, too?

     
  •  Yeah, sorry, my poutine crop was pretty poor this year. It came out too runny.

     
  • As I've said before I don't think Pierce's story has any weight because he just wants money this time. It's hard to root for characters who just want money. He was already over resenting his father (“Well I’m not scared of you anymore because you’re dead, and I’m not. So, I win. And you can suck it.") and he wouldn't give Col. Eugenics the satisfaction of tormenting him one last time. Slapping on a "but he gets a brother now" thing just felt trite. Bottom line, I think the writers just wanted to do a video game episode.

    I should add that Harmon said this episode was the last straw with NBC.

     
  • Wasn't there a later episode where Pierce went to his father's grave, drinking? Methinks there was still some deep unresolved issues there remaining.

     
  •  Yeah, except that it wasn't resolved (like Stephen says) and it wasn't entirely about the money (which Pierce would have needed anyway, what with being kicked off his company and all). Pierce never got to settle things with Col. Racist – it was Jeff who killed him. So of course Pierce would jump at the chance to square things off.

  • Yea I know about the UMaSA tag; it doesn't matter to me because his eulogy is pretty definitive and great heroic moment for him. I don't think it matters who killed whom either. By those standards you can drag out the "he still resents his father" thing forever.

     
  •  I think the issues Pierce had with his father were too deep, and went back too long to be resolved so quickly. People (justifiably) complain about the T&A rift being patched up too quickly at the end of P&B. I don't see how that can be a problem and Pierce getting over his father's years of crap with one speech, can't be.

     
  • He can get over his father because his father is finally dead! Story circle closed. How much more are you supposed to do with that? I'm sorry, I don't see any way that DEP is not a really trite re-hash in service of a video game experiment.

     
  • Hey! Semi-bored torontonian ! Romantic Expressionism agreebuddy! Woo hoo!

     
  •  Oh, if only we could get over people who hurt us when they die!

    I don't deny DEP exists because Harmon wanted to make a videogame episode; BLU only exists because Harmon wanted a L&O episode. But I think the premise is solid. It's not easy to find out that the father who's always resented and bossed you around is screwing with you from beyond the grave. Add to this Pierce's sore loser personality, and of course he'd go for the challenge.

     
  • If it's really a case of a tormented son unable to let go of the resentment even after his father keels over then he sure got over it in the most empty, unconvincing way possible. Pierce expected a hefty inheritance check to wipe out all the years of torment, money he didn't need and shouldn't even want if the pain cut as deep as we know it did (similar to how empty it was that winning paintball and donating 100k made the group want Pierce back in FFPM). With that as an emotional dead end it turns into some thing about friendship. Then Pierce gets a brother out of it, to whom its tacitly admitted that Pierce had already gotten over the crap he got from Cornelius. And then "Greendale is where I belong" plays for no reason. I mean, come on. If you'll allow me to shamelessly appeal to authority, Todd also thought the episode lacked a core, and not that it means anything but Harmon called the episode ridiculous.

     
  •  I disagree and Todd be damned!

    Indeed the episode suffers from a certain telegraphing of emotions (a common complaint, even for me, in S3). But I don't think those emotions are so unreasonable or so unrealistic. They just needed more of a setup to work properly. Of all the arcs in the show, I think I liked Pierce's father issues the most.

    I could even argue that Pierce's very expectation of a "make up" inheritance suggests just how screwed up he is emotionally, and that he wasn't completely over his petulant child phase until he was able to see his moodiness and selfishness reflected back at him in the form of Gilbert. That this final revelation occurs over a game is extremely appropriate, considering that it's essentially a confrontation between two men who were so screwed up by their father, they're still emotionally stunted children on some level.

    Like I said, I think the game concept overshadows some of these ideas, but I think the emotional core is quite relevant and real. Also, I think the episode is both hilarious and so formally daring that I can forgive it some fudging on the emotional front.

     
  • See that's where I relate to Pierce so much and I agree that his father issues are high on the list of most affecting and best-handled personal arcs next only to Jeff's own. I've had a similar relationship with my own father, but even with all the issues, the very last thing I see myself doing is continuing to resent and attempt to avenge my dumb gay dead dad. In fact, I'll probably be overcome with regret and grief for failing to reconcile. So that's where I can't abide the perpetual burr up Harmon's ass about fathers being evil and needing to be killed, and Pierce having to be unredemptive by definition. Pierce totally should have hated his father up to and including what had to be an incredibly conflicting time for him when Cornelius died. And then he should have Let Go.

    Anyway, I'm glad you at least agree with me that DEP's delights come more from its form than truly convincing story and ideas. That's why I don't consider it on par with the greats that accomplish much more.

  •  In this case you're a better man than Pierce. But perhaps he gets a little pass because he's lived a very long life in the shadow of a dictatorial asshole who could never be satisfied. When he got one last opportunity to defeat him, he grabbed it, even if it meant a relapse into the kind of intimidated self-wallowing he seemed to have left behind. He got out of it when he realized that friendship, rather than competition is what's truly valuable (and incidentally, he also proved Cornelius wrong by getting the required number of friends).

    And yeah, this has Harmon's daddy issues all over it. I would have loved to see his take on Jeff meeting his dumb gay dad, but I'll settle for Pierce blowing his up with an 8-bit missile.

    But I do agree that the drama needed more development to properly work. I just don't think it was so unlikely of Pierce to relapse.

  • That was another issue with season 3: the regression of every character except Troy into more immature and petulant versions of themselves. Pierce's issues would have been more poignant if the writing for him hadn't been all over the place (often no place at all) for the season. I'm not high on FFPM but his resolution at the end is poignant because it's founded on a whole season of consistent characterization.

  •  I don't think Jeff regressed, and neither did Shirley, but I see your point.

  • Whee! We're still discussing things here!

    I like DEP for the same reason I like P&B-it's audacious, well executed, and hysterical. The episodes I like the most tend to be the ones that twist and contort what a sitcom is supposed to be, and pushes the format into something it has never been. I don't give bonus points for that, that just happens to be the type of episode that wows me the most. In this particular case, it does get bonus points due to the fact that I don't think I've laughed harder at an episode of Community. 

    Despite Todd/Harmon thinking it is a mess or it had no depth or whatever, I don't buy that. The Pierce/Cornelius relationship was so well done that I didn't mind going back to that well and watching Pierce get some final catharsis. He never really got that in the first place, and the last we saw of the relationship, Pierce was drunkenly cursing his father's grave. After devoting a good deal of time to that relationship, and turning it into such a driver of who Pierce was, capping that story with something along these lines works by me. That, if you ask me, is a very strong core. 

    I do think that the episode wasn't placed in the ideal spot, but that was probably more due to the insane amount of time Harmon spent in the edit bay than a storytelling decision. I can't exactly hold a behind the scenes issue against what is a great episode of television.

    True, the power of friendship bit may have been a little on the nose, and the "losing one family member while gaining another" part a bit hackneyed, but it was still very effective. Plus, the whole "funniest episode ever" thing. 

  • I'm not sure that what happens in DEP is a worthy final catharsis, if there has to be one at all, but we'll have to leave it at that.

    Regarding the funnies, it's the opposite for me in that the more daring concepts tend to level the funny capacity for a given episode. I don't think DEP was that funny and P&B even less so. Keith David pointing to and explaining jokes is a very flawed comedic device. I'm with you that it's wonderful that Community is capable of doing these things at all but that doesn't mean it always works.

     
  • Well, this is an "agree to disagree" moment. I thought both were extremely funny, even setting aside concept and execution of said concept. DEP was probably more funny on it's own, but P&B was a more complete episode. No big deal, just different strokes. 

     
  • What part of P&B seems pointless? The gimmick? The entire Troy/Abed arc?

     
  • It doesn't appear that anything that happened in the episode had any lasting consequences.

     
  • I don't know if I agree. While some parts of the Troy/Abed story come to a natural conclusion in this episode, I see some lingering effects. There's some noticeable resentment from Troy towards Abed after this episode (BLU comes readily to mind), but it also plays into the endgame for Troy.

    A big part of the season was Troy growing up, and him pulling away from Abed was a big part of that. Troy reached a point in his life when he was ready for change, while Abed wasn't. A schism was natural, and it was illustrated in this episode. That through line continued on to the end of the AC Repair School arc. Even though Troy and Abed made up at the end of the episode, the fight meant more than just a fight. It was a big stepping stone in a series long arc for Troy.

  • I can't believe it took me this long to come up with this, and it's already been buried, but I'm writing it anyway.

    Remedial Chaos Theory is, in all likelihood, going to finish #1 on our crowdsourced list. Here is what happens in that episode, from a pure plot perspective:

    Study group shows up at Troy and Abed's house
    Jeff rolls a die to see who gets the pizza
    Abed catches die, makes Jeff get pizza
    Dance party

    That's it. That's all that "happened" in the episode. It has zero effect on anything that occurs afterwards. There are no lasting consequences to the episode. In fact, it is probably the least consequential episode of Community, when you get right down to it. However, there are so many funny moments, so many wonderful little moments of character interaction that only work so well because of what came before them, and it has such an audacious (and well executed) structure, that it is impossible for me to regard it as anything less than a classic. That's how I view P&B as well.  Lasting consequence do not a great episode of television make. 

     
  • Totally different situations. The Troy-Abed conflict was a story arc that the show had been subtly building towards at various points throughout the season. There's no such build-up to "Remedial Chaos Theory". Whereas "Pillows and Blankets" is a part of a bigger story arc, and therefore a long-term investment from the audience, "Remedial Chaos Theory" is entirely self-contained. Many people, and I understand where they're coming from here, at the time thought "Pillows and Blankets" was an unsatisfying resolution to the arc but chose to let it slide as they assumed it was not the final conclusion to the conflict. I imagine upon learning that that was not the case, understandably they were quite disappointed.

    Furthermore, at the time people who supported the episode (me, being one) assured those that didn't (someone like Janine probably) that there would be consequences down the line. There weren't. You could say that's more of our fault than the show.

    Personally, I'm not taking any stance one way or another. I'm more mixed on it. I enjoy the episode a lot and I'm not sure I care all that much about how the Troy-Abed conflict resolves. I don't think it's a great resolution but eh, it's a fun episode.

     
  • No lasting consequences? You can say that for many, many episodes. 

     
  • It doesn't appear that anything that happened in the episode had any lasting consequences.

    Who cares?

     
  • I don't really care all that much myself anymore but I recall at the time that many people kept saying, myself included, that that couldn't be the conclusion of the Troy-Abed conflict and it would reappear in a big way in later episodes. I imagine anyone who was relying on that promise coming true did care.

     
  • If you're someone for whom the buildup, apex, and resolution of Troy and Abed's fight didn't work, and given that the T/A stuff is supposed to be the emotional heart of the episode, then why wouldn't you care? I mean, I do — obviously not to the extent that it ruins the ep for me (I really like it, in fact), but I do have reservations.

    I feel like you guys (Capt, Standard) are missing the point a little of what is bothering people — it's not that they think all episodes need "lasting consequence" to be good.  but basically that the show is not following through on its major plotlines. Imagine if, I dunno, Jeff and Britta's hookup in Modern Warfare were never addressed again. Or if they didn't have the precipitous buildup to their actually sleeping together.

    I'm not saying the Troy/Abed stuff is of the same magnitude (pop pop) or that they completely missed the mark, but I wish it had been as thoroughly developed an arc, or a boomerang arc, or whatever it was that happened with Jeff and Britta.

     
  • Exactly snow. Nice work explaining it better than I did.

     
  • DavetheDouchebag

    One of the problems with Pillows and Blankets is that the whole Troy Abed arc was structrually weird. They build up the conflict throughout the season and then it suddenly erupts and then burns out before the season is over. It kind of makes a lot of the set up feel unnecessary, and certainly hurts this episode in retrospect.

  • Romantic Expressionism imo is definitely a better episode than Intro to Stats, but Stats is a more important episode when looking at the growth of the show.

     
  • That one scene in Romantic Expressionism is the single best example of Community's style of humor. There's never a punch line, but it's absolutely hilarious.

     
  • just to be clear: i don't have a shot with any of you, right?

     
  • It has the everyone is attracted to everyone else scene, the escalating "I did eat all the macaroni" scene, the ending on the stoop, and Troy's "I have the weirdest boner" scene. It may not have a daring concept, but it's pretty much the essential episode of Community.

     
  • DavetheDouchebag

    God, I love that scene so much. It stood out to me immediately as one of the greatest things I've ever seen, and it probably still is.

     
  • I disagree with the first part and agree with the second part. Although the study room scene is better than any single scene in Statistics. 

    I'm actually kinda shocked that Romantic Expressionism is so low. I thought I was the only person who didn't think it was an all time classic. 

     
  • Either the high rank for Romantic Expressionism is incorrect or my rankings weren't counted- I had it at #4.

     
  • It's incorrect. I made a typo. My mistake.

  • This injustice will not stand!

     
  • It's recorded as fourth in the actual numbers, but it just wasn't written that way here. That'll be fixed.

     
  • Scandal! This is only the tip of the iceberg!! Has anyone ever even seenStephen77 and Capt. Blicero in the same place at the same time???

     
  • sll03

    It's a conspiracy that goes all the way to slightly below the middle!

     
  • 37. Pillows and Blankets
    21. Virtual Systems Analysis
    20. Digital Estate Planning
    9. Introduction to Statistics
    8. Romantic Expressionism

    I'm pleased with where I have these episodes. Great group.

  • 63. Pillows and Blankets
    61. Virtual Systems Analysis
    60. Digital Estate Planning
    12. Romantic Expressionism
    7. Intro to Statistics

    :)

     
  • 55. Pillows and Blankets
    20. Intro to Stats
    19. Romantic Expressionism
    17. Digital Estate Planning
    15. Virtual Systems Analysis

     
  • sll03

    Lloyd, why do you hate half of the episodes on this list and Jesus?

     
  • Does it help if I told you I hate myself and Jesus more?

     
  • sll03

    Does this mean you are also not a fan of marijuana or drinking human blood? Because that's just silly.

     
  • For the record, I'm merely waiting on Janine and Kojak to post the next group. If they get them to me today or tomorrow, I will post the next group tomorrow night.

     
  • GOD, YOU GUYS, HURRY UP JEEZ WHY MUST YOU KEEP STEPHE WAITING?! HE IS A VENGEFUL GOD!

     
  • DavetheDouchebag

    And a loving god!

     
  • I'm Old Testament God and New Testament God.

     
  • Is mine in the next group? And if not, did you get it?

     
  • I got it! Thanks, dude.

     
  • By the way, I hope people really appreciate the group names and "presented by". Sometimes I use way too much time thinking them up. I was proud of Illuminati Lamps. And we have Senor Kevin's, Let's Potato Chips, Eugenio's Pizza (twice, not that anyone noticed) … and the Opposite of Batman episodes were presented by AT&T! Man I'm clever.

     
  • Looks like someone's mommy gave him too much praise.

    Edit: See, Britta was on the psych tip since the beginning. Lay-yers!

     
  • Giving her a psych major was perfect.

     
  •  I know you're just fishing for compliments, but fine, I'll bite:

    They are excellent.

     
  • sll03

    I totally noticed; I simply wished to spare you the from the all-consuming humiliation.

     
  • DavetheDouchebag

    They are quite cool. I appreciate them deeply.

     
  • Romantic Expressionism: 46
    Virtual Systems Analysis: 24
    Introduction to Statistics: 20
    Digital Estate Planning: 7
    Pillows and Blankets: 3 (darn it, someone beat me by 1!)

  • Affrosponge88

    That was me. You'll always be the Shane to my Vic Mackey.

  • You've gotta be shitting me. 

     
  • So from the looks of it there is no consensus yet and there probably won't even be one for the top 10, which is pretty cool.

     
  • It speaks very highly of the show that we disagree on what is the best. I won't say there are no wrong answers in a top 10, but there sure are a lot of right ones. 

     
  • If I were remaking this list today, I might knock VSA back into the upper teens/lower twenties of my list. FWIW it's one of the episodes I grappled most over — clearly I'm still having issues — but even if it were farther up the list, it would still be the highest-ranking episode that I have a big reservation about. (And it mostly has to do with Abed's characterization. I don't doubt that he would regress sometimes, and I give props to the series for trying to portray that; I still just don't know if I buy the how of its occurrence.) On the other hand, the locker scene is still great. Moreover, this is the best Annie gets* all season. I disagree with SG Standard on her revelation about Jeff, though. Because she's still very young, a romantic, and her comportment towards Jeff is often in the vein of Horror Fiction'syou should be proud of how much I've changed you (if never so overt as that), she's a prime candidate for being in love with the idea of being in love. So yes, I do think it's consistent, and good rehab for her character in a season where her portrayal floundered. 

    Also, since 1. the Greendale Hospital School provided some of the funniest moments for me the whole season, and  2. the episode's ambition largely seemed within its grasp, I've decided not to lose any sleep over my ranking of this episode. Now, that guy I hit with my car earlier today is another matter.

    P&B was a little tough to assess too — what weight to give my sheer enjoyment of virtually every aspect of the doc concept vs. my disappointment after contextualizing the ep within the season and thinking the Troy/Abed megarumble came up short, as many have complained? Ultimately, I just enjoyed it that damn much — and found myself affected by the T/A content* in the actual episode — to rank it relatively highly.

    My rankings:
    29. Digital Estate Planning
    21. Intro to Statistics
    20. P&B
    15. VSA
    12. Romantic Expressionism

    edit: Fuck you, Disqus, for destroying the line breaks in every single comment ever.
    edit: *I forgot to include a phrasing asterisk.

     
  • I love the idea of Annie being in love with being in love more than I love the execution and buildup. It's a great sentiment, and it would go a long way to explaining why Annie has been hung up on Jeff for so long. She was the uncool girl in high school who was never noticed, wasn't good looking, and got addicted to pills. It's natural for someone like that to latch onto the first person who sees them as an attractive, mature, young woman. However, there wasn't a whole lot of evidence given, either before or after VSA, to show that she wasn't in love with Jeff as a person. 

    It's kind of like the "Annie wants to transfer" angle from Basic Rocket Science, albeit on a smaller, less characterization bastardizing scale. It comes out of left field and as a result, it doesn't have the narrative strength that the episode requires. Had that idea been alluded to elsewhere, it would have had some serious oomph. Maybe I just missed hints that were dropped earlier on in the season, but it was the one part of the episode that felt jarringly out of place for me. 

     
  • I think her spin on their relationship in Horror Fiction is the clearest indication of her feelings — that her stake in it has as much, if not more, to do with her and her ability to "save" someone. Could the show have run with this more, sure. It's not a thing that I necessarily anticipated, but one I feel still works in retrospect, you know?

    Annie gives Jeff plenty of critical appraisal throughout the series (from "I could never be as selfish as you"/"handsome hobo" in season one up through "You're just a bad grade in a tight sweater" in season three and ever so much more). She recognizes the schisms between them, and so I think a part of her knows, "Hey, maybe not so great a partner for me." On another level, of course, these are the very conflicts that make him such an alluring prospect (project?) for her, but that just bespeaks her immaturity and inexperience. I mean, between that and things like

    one – so many moments in their romantic oeuvre consisting of googly eyes
    two – how she was positively giddy over having "technically Frenched"
    three –how she is incredibly susceptible romantically, from the tiny-nippled to Abed-in-seductive-character to kettle-corn popping phantoms to flusteringly handsome blonde cowboys

    all suggest to me that she is, at heart, just a young person in the midst of an intense infatuation, really just digging her burgeoning sexuality. You know, the Annie of it all. I see where you're coming from, though.

     
  • I can get behind that. Annie has always had a lot of a little girl, inexperienced thing about her. I can understand that the subtext was there, but the big revelation still felt too forced to me. So we don't agree to disagree. I guess we agree-ish to disagree-ish?

  • I thought it was a great Annie episode and her revelation about Jeff was great progress. I'm no teen girl, but don't they do that and then later in their 20's they come to a realization about what love and infatuation are? 
     
    And here's a little thought about concept episodes I picked up from watching Buffy: a high concept episode can be useful for putting your characters in situations you can't have otherwise to mine new comedy/drama. I thought they did that well in VSA in how Annie and Abed were "playing" the other characters. It's also a deeper look into Abed's mind, and the point with him this season was how, no, he's not the magical meta goblin who's just there for jokes and references to all things TV and movies. He's a flawed person, like everyone else at Greendale. This was expanded upon way back in the third episode of Community Intro to Film. We haven't had a VSA argument in a while, so let me start: rabble rabble.
     
    Pillows vs. Blankets really didn't land with me, but I can see that it did well with what it was supposed to do. (In less words: execution.) There's also someone here who loves the episode and I'd love to hear him speak on the matter.

     
  • I love Pillows and Blankets. The commitment to and execution of the format is stunning. That enables the episode to be funny in a way that literally no other sitcom episode in television history has been. The visual gags are there, but the narration is so great that they don't have to carry the episode (which could have easily been a necessity and easy fallback considering the format). The comedic degree of difficulty was among the highest in the show's history, and it was utterly nailed. 

    Not to mention, the ending is incredibly moving and touching. It got me to tear up, no lie. Even though the episode revolves around Troy and Abed, it represents a big moment for Jeff and his journey as well. Him going to pick up the invisible friendship hats is a beautiful crystallization of the effect that these people and this school have collectively had on him, and it's beautiful. Pillows and Blankets hit on absolutely every cylinder, and it hit on them magnificently. 

     
  •  I like it as well – thank God for NBC's total lack of interest in the show, otherwise something like this couldn't have conceivably aired on broadcast TV. But I still resent it a little for building up to some major T&A confrontation, and wrapping it up so quickly. I know the show doubles back, and examines both Abed's neediness devolving into flat-out delusion, and Troy's struggle to find his own way. But I still feel like P&B was a bit of a letdown.

     
  • I might have a different perspective on P&B. I don't know about everybody else, but I had no idea that it was a Ken Burns style episode until it started. I kept myself utterly spoiler free. I saw one Sepinwall tweet about it the day the episode aired, but I thought it was a joke. I was utterly floored by all the episode did because it was so unexpected. So because I had no expectations, I couldn't be let down. 

    Am I the only one who had that experience?

     
  • I also thought it was a joke when I first heard about it.

     
  • My biggest VSA gripe is the ending when Abed's like, but now I have this new tool called "empathy." (PARAPHRASING.) Dude, didn't you know what that was before? I thought you had empathy falling out of your butt, too. (See: the way he gets Jeff in Home Ec and CAP. The way he gets Shirley in MM. Many other instances, those just really important ones.)

  • I interpreted that empathy line as Abed playing a character (Inspector Abed Spacetime, as it were), performing a scene in his head.

     
  • sll03

    26. Pillows and Blankets
    19. Introduction to Statistics
    15. Virtual Systems Analysis
    11. Romantic Expressionism
    10. Digital Estate Planning

    It occurs to me now that Romantic Expressionism is like a personal precursor of sorts to Mixology Certification. While very different in most technical aspects (location, concept, set-up, and of course, season) at their core, both revolve around a strictly character-driven story and rely mainly on study group interactions/dynamics. As such, they culminate in an all-important, poignant scene – something Community is often wont to do. This is where I get a strong sense of similarity: the emotional gratification. The "shucks gee" grin elicited from the library serenade of Annie's Song and the famous hallway conversation were virtually identical.

    Shucks, gee. I love this show.

     
  •  You made great points in the comments for the 115 review.

     
  • sll03

    I think you're confusing me with Unregistered Guy Named Eric – that dude gets it.

    For anybody and everybody with reservations or hang-ups about this episode, I humbly direct you to this. Like it; you know you wanna. (Phrasing! unintended, but nevertheless rather apparent.)

     
  • Thank you for the shout-out. You are aways such a sweet person.

    *Turns nervously away from sll03 , finds myself accidently making googly eyes at DavetheDouchebag  on the other side of the study table*

     
  • sll03

    It's okay, Eric – Dave is legal now!

    Side Note: You are most welcome as it was entirely deserved. Also, you are always such a dapper fellow.

     
  • WAAAAHHHHHHH about VSA's spot. (I was nearly the high rank.)

     
  • 24 / 11 A+ VSA
    23 / 16 A P&B
    22 / 26 A- Rom Ex
    21 / 8 A+ DEP
    20 / 22 A Intro Stats

    My rankings are better than yours.

     
  • 24 / 43 VSA
    23 / 26 P&B
    22 / 34 Romantic Ex
    21 / 9 DEP
    20 / 28 Stats

    Digital Estate Planning is my first top ten episode to show up. Guess I didn't have the perfect top ten. Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking at #36 is my lowest ranked episode that has not yet appeared on the list.

     
  • Is VSA's SD the highest SD of them all?  That wouldn't surprise me.

     
  • It is not. Of all the episodes listed so far, I believe it has the 12th highest standard deviation. For all the correct standard deviations, go here:
    http://avclubcommunists.freefo…

     
  • No, episodes with lower scores have higher SD's, but relative to its score it's pretty high. 
     
    And don't forget your review tomorrow!

     
  • Ah yeah, thanks for the reminder.  It's ready to, just needs to be moved from Word to the CZ.