Glazomania: Redux – Episodes 45-50
The Duncan Principle Episodes (Presented by Let's Potato Chips)
What does the Duncan Principle have to do with these episodes? Are these episodes psychology experiments? Not to my knowledge, but it would explain NBC's erratic schedule. We're still in the "below average" episode range, yet there's still so much to love. Dr. Ian Duncan, the favorite non-Greendale seven character, is featured in a few of these episode. This might be run-of-the-mill Community, but there's a reason we all consider it a favorite.
50. Home Economics (108) (Average Score – 67.65) (Average Grade – 2.98/B) (Average Rank – 45.0) (High Rank – 22) (Low Rank – 68) (Standard Deviation – 0.594)
“Home Economics” is simply a fun episode. Watching it is like opening a time capsule to an older, simpler Community: the plots are unambitious, the colors brighter, and the characters even get to go outside! The show was still very much in its infancy at this point, and while it does retain some of the flaws of early season one, most notably the oft-criticized and ultimately dropped romance between Jeff and Britta and a few overly-broad jokes, the lack of melodrama and the episode's general earnestness mostly redeem the missteps. Also fun to see is a large number of supporting characters, including the first appearances of Patton Oswalt's nurse and Abed's Polish friend Pavel. Along with the numerous exterior shots, they contribute to the sense of Greendale being an actual, vibrant school, that has been somewhat lost in more recent seasons. Despite being far from perfect in any sense, the writing, acting, and direction of “Home Economics” has such a palpable sense of enthusiasm that it's impossible not to like.
49. Social Psychology (104) (Average Score – 67.70) (Average Grade – 2.98/B) (Average Rank – 46.4) (High Rank – 16) (Low Rank – 65) (Standard Deviation – 0.539)
At this point, Community is in the process of finding its rhythm and fleshing out its characters, so nothing particularly exciting or revealing occurs here. Still, this episode does a competent job developing its characters further: Shirley isn't just a well mannered mousey (ex-)housewife, she's a pot-stirrer too; Britta is a woman refreshingly unobsessed with serious relationships; and Abed quietly establishes himself as a master manipulator. Overall, a fun episode filled with a few pretty great moments, mainly revolving around The Duncan Principle, but it offers only a glimpse of the show's potential.
48. Pilot (101) (Average Score – 67.94) (Average Grade – 2.99/B) (Average Rank – 44.9) (High Rank – 15) (Low Rank – 70) (Standard Deviation – 0.563)
Four years ago, I watched the pilot's original broadcast on NBC and it hooked me easily. Reasons: Likable dick lead, a blond to rival then-hottest-woman-on-TV-Yvonne Strahovski (who is still pretty damn hot), John Oliver, attractively shot scenes and settings, and a clear and instant chemistry between the cast reflected by the quick and clever dialogue. It does everything you can ask of a sitcom pilot and does it well. So why isn't it higher in the rankings? Well, it only does what's asked. Community shortly morphs into a greater show and it does that by eschewing expectations. The pilot sets the foundation for the rest of the series by introducing its ensemble cast as typical sitcom archetypes to be disassembled later and by skimming on the plot. The result is enjoyable, but orthodox.
47. English as a Second Language (124) (Average Score – 67.99) (Average Grade – 3.00/B) (Average Rank – 43.7) (High Rank – 13) (Low Rank – 67) (Standard Deviation – 0.652)
Like every episode in this range, this one has some great stuff, it’s just that there are 46 episodes we love better. On one hand, this episode serves as a nice bookend to the Spanish class. While it’s dwarfed by the relationship upheaval and emotional beats in the surrounding episodes—Modern Warfare and Pascal’s Triangle Revisited–it’s a great slice of the show’s more everyday campus life. Pierce doing something nice for the group in the way he knows how and the start of Troy’s plumbing arc are little pieces of bigger arcs that will be significant over the next two seasons. On the flipside, it can feel a bit plot-heavy, moving the pieces around between one gigantic episode and another. And because of that, it can feel the characters are doing things that come out of nowhere. No one suffers from this more than Annie. It’s the start of a run of schizophrenia on her part: she reveals Chang’s secret so that they’ll retake the class and keep the group together but a couple episodes later she’ll run off as a hacky sack groupie….but she’ll come back….but a few episodes later she’ll sabotage the rocket “launch.” This is an episode which remains rich with hilarious quotables—pronouncing "guitar" like a hilbilly and the Disney Face spring to mind—but in the end, this episode is perhaps pizza where it’s a bit too easy to pick out the anchovies or the sausage or the peppers. Delicious still, but not as flawlessly blended as the best this show has to offer.
– Walking NPR
46. Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples (205) (Average Score – 68.78) (Average Grade – 3.03/B) (Average Rank – 41.4) (High Rank – 11) (Low Rank – 71) (Standard Deviation – 0.781)
Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples is a mixed bag of an episode. On one hand, you have the ABED plot. It’s a clever plot, and upon examination, it becomes clear how the writers took great care to interconnect the stories of Abed and Shirley and draw parallels to the story of Jesus. Though this part of the episode gets a bit caught up in its own meta-textuality, it has some funny bits (“I heard the deleted scenes are the scenes, and the scenes are the deleted scenes!”) and manages to be an unconventional, but mostly enjoyable A-plot. The comparative weakness of the episode comes from the B-plot, in which Pierce, feeling unappreciated by the group, finds himself hanging out with the older “hipsters” of Greendale. This plot, which is largely cartoonish in both Pierce’s acting out against the group and in the stereotypical senile actions of the hipsters themselves, comes across as light and played-straight sitcom fare, and suffers when placed right alongside the tonally opposite A-plot. Perhaps it would’ve fared better inserted into a lighter episode, but the jarring clash between the two parts brings the episode down as a whole.
– Dr. Clash
45. Basic Rocket Science (204) (Average Score – 68.90) (Average Grade –
3.03/B) (Average Rank – 43.3) (High Rank – 10) (Low Rank – 67) (Standard Deviation – 0.567)
Ah, Basic Rocket Science. It's a great concept, of course, and as I understand was hyped considerably before the premiere of the second season, but man, this was kind of an anti-climax. The thing is, there is some great stuff here. The entire cavalcade of KFC jokes (including the genius S.A.N.D.E.R.S.) hit the right spot and are for all intents and purposes hilarious. Even Chang gets some good lines in (the show used him in short bursts here, demonstrating his comic ability to be there and gone in a flash). But the character stuff with Annie is some of the worst in the show's history, demonstrating for the first time the perhaps inability to write a character such as Annie. Still, this is an extremely fun episode, and gave birth to one of the show's longest standing background gag's, the anus flag. Crude visual gag, or subtle, childish finger to the networks?
– Evil Jeff
71 – 63: The Opposite of Batman Episodes
62 – 57: Broken Toys
56 – 51: Pizza is Pizza