Glazomania: Redux – Episodes 51-56

Pizza is Pizza (Presented by Eugenio's: it's a buy)

These here episodes are that Dan Harmon would deem “pizza episodes”. They’re not particularly adored but sometimes it’s just good to spend some time with these characters at Greendale. Like even the worst of pizzas, these comparatively “weaker” episodes (at least according to our consensus) of Community are still tasty anyway.

Community1x13_0296

56. Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts (311) (Average Score – 65.31)
(Average Grade – 2.89/B) (Average Rank – 46.6) (High Rank – 16) (Low Rank – 67) (Standard Deviation – 0.638)
The episode would be higher had it contain more memorable lines, but the only real standout conversation takes place early on around the study table. I think it’s also worthy to note that for a season that stressed serialization as much as it did, the proposal still feels random, and the product of network interference (“We need a wedding episode to return to!”). The fact that Shirley’s conflict of immediately giving up on her business for Andre also feels a little too contrived for this show, and the character deserved better, though that was frequent with Shirley, sadly. It’s not a horrible episode, but it exemplifies latter day Community indulging in its problematically half-baked story-lines for criminally underused characters.
– AffroSponge88

55. Biology 101 (301) (Average Score – 65.88)
(Average Grade – 2.91/B) (Average Rank – 47.0) (High Rank – 21) (Low Rank – 71) (Standard Deviation – 0.641)
While, in retrospect, Biology 101 does a good job setting the table for the serial of season 3, its overall progression never quite comes together as a solid episode of television. It has its bright spots – the opening musical number is a delight, the Dean’s monkey hotel idea is a gem, and Michael K. Williams is great to watch. On the whole, however, the episode never quite flows well as a narrative, which becomes rather jarring at times. Pierce’s dramatic departure from the group is handwaved within the first two minutes of the episode, the Dean’s confidently proposed orderly new regime on Greendale is dismantled by the end of the episode, and Jeff’s departure from the group, though we would obviously never think that it would be permanent, needed time to breathe before earning his reentry. It’s not a bad episode, but Community has shown itself capable of far better.
– Dr. Clash

54. Investigative Journalism (113) (Average Score – 66.97)
(Average Grade – 2.95/B) (Average Rank – 44.1) (High Rank – 9) (Low Rank – 71) (Standard Deviation – 0.722)
How does an episode with possibly the best cold open in the show’s run end up 54th? Because it’s a good episode. And when it comes to Community, that’s middling. How you feel about this episode likely depends largely on how much you enjoy the Buddy plotline (and, by extension, Annie and Britta wrestling in a kiddie pool.) Somewhat like the Art of Discourse, Jack Black’s obnoxiousness and lack of chemistry with the group is kind of the point, but in the end it’s still obnoxiousness and lack of chemistry. Still, he serves a pivotal role for a one-off guest star. Buddy’s story is also the story of Jeff’s attempt to distance himself from the group to whom he’s become so quickly attached, which succeeds in doing so without hitting a total reset button in the character. More importantly, Buddy leaving for the cool group does for the study group as a whole what the “worst”-ing of Britta did for her character: beat them down just enough to be loveable. Unfortunately, Buddy’s plot does suffocate the Jeff-as-newspaper-editor story slightly—a charming little aside for Jeff, Annie, and Abed, which ties perfectly into Jeff’s pulling-back but isn’t fully explored. Whether that’s an intentional meta-commentary on Buddy as a character-type or just a bit of unintentional imbalance, it’s the difference between “good” and “good enough!” In conclusion, remember: racial profiling may not be right, but it can be economical!
– Walking NPR

53. Advanced Gay (306) (Average Score – 67.01)
(Average Grade – 2.95/B) (Average Rank – 47.6) (High Rank – 17) (Low Rank – 66) (Standard Deviation – 0.456)
For the first two acts, "Advanced Gay" is a delightfully solid episode of Community. It has a lot of laughs in its Season 1-esque group banter, and its two plots are both fairly interesting and very amusing stories. It was probably never going to be an all-time classic or anything, but if it had continued at that level, it could've been one of Season 3's strongest non-concept episodes. Unfortunately, everything falls apart a little bit in the third act, when the show shifts gears and attempts to make signficiant leaps forward in both Pierce and Troy's character arcs. It doesn't really succeed at either, because the general light-heartedness of the episode's first two acts causes important moments like the death of Pierce's dad or Troy rejecting the offer from the air conditioning school fail to deliver the emotional punch the show wants them to. Granted, the show would return to these arcs later in the season, so you can argue that this episode wasn't really meant to close off those stories, but it still gives the episode a strange unfinished vibe. So as a piece of pure entertainment, "Advanced Gay" is a rousing success – but as an emotional character piece, it misses the mark, keeping it below the standards of what makes a truly great episode of Community.
– roare

52. Football, Feminism and You (106) (Average Score – 67.10)
(Average Grade – 2.96/B) (Average Rank – 46.4) (High Rank – 6) (Low Rank – 69) (Standard Deviation – 0.637)
I know this is an early favorite for a lot of people, but it has never particularly stood out to me as either great or bad, I'd probably call it mediocre. Part of it is the focus on Troy, who was not the hilarious, tear-prone, goofball best friend I later came to love (and accept his slight rejection of when he needed to grow up a little). He still seems so ill-defined here. Annie, however, is quite funny, and sort of pathetic, in her manipulations to make Troy into the guy she thinks she has a shot with at college. I mostly remember this episode for its introduction of the Human Being, for which I will always be grateful to it.
– Scrawler

51. Studies in Modern Movement (307) (Average Score – 67.48)
(Average Grade – 2.97/B) (Average Rank – 44.4) (High Rank – 14) (Low Rank – 69) (Standard Deviation – 0.553)
Another "pizza episode"; not up to standards with the series' best but still fun to watch, with plenty of hilarious moments throughout. The Britta-Shirley car ride storyline was the weakest of the four with a resolution that didn't really feel earned. Furthermore, in the case of Shirley, it continued what had then been a trend of her character mostly being used in an episode to act shrill and self-righteous of her fundamentalist Christian ways, a trend which led some fans to question whether the writers were capable of writing anything interesting for her anymore (concerns that would thankfully be proven wrong from "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism" onward). As for #AnniesMove (tweeting it!), although it's understandable that the show would have Troy and Abed behave immaturelyand self-centered in order to justify Annie's reservations of moving in, their actions really did start to feel more annoying than adorableby the episode's mid-point in a way that felt almost uncharacteristic of the two. That being said, Pierce's shenanigans back in Annie's apartment was a delight, with Chevy Chase doing slapstick in ways which hadn't been seen since early season one, and the show got some good mileage out of Jeff's blackmail-driven afternoon out with the Dean. Plus, who can forget that wonderful 85-second "Kiss From a Rose" montage, not just the highlight of the episode but one of highlights from the entire third season. I doubt that there's any Community fan who can still listen to Seal's biggest hit without also adding in a mention of Jesus' love for marijuana and human blood drinking.
– – Not the Real Randy Jackson

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http://www.avclub.com/articles/digital-estate-planning-the-first-chang-dynasty-in,73676/#comment-752856661 (page 701)

 

 

Discussion:

  • I was the high ranking for Football, Feminism and You, naturally.

  • Wow, it's even lower than the Pilot. FFY and ACL get pegged as the ginger lepers of early season 1 for some reason and it's totally undeserved. FFY has a wonderful Jeff-Annie story and it's hilarious.

  • I had it the highest of those first six episodes.

  • It's just never stood out to me either way, to be honest.

  • A very a poignant expression on Annie's face that always stuck with me.
    http://www.fishsticktheatre.co…

    Who says this is just discardable pizza?* These early episodes tinker but they're also remarkably assured and show a clear direction for everyone.

    *I think people have misconstrued Harmon's meaning of "pizza". He didn't mean it as "good but forgettable". He was standing up for these episodes (he said to critics, "you were just watching them wrong"). He meant that they're good in the way "good pizza" is good, implying that it's often better than fancy pizza.

  • I never said it was discardable. From the word of God: 
    Neil [Goldman] has this expression that he introduced me to in the first season after a 70 percenter. He says, “It’s pizza,” meaning, “Bad slice? Good slice?” Like, [Nasal voice.] “Ehh, pizza’s good food. We make pizza.” And that’s a good way of looking at it. Community is pizza, as compared to having to eat shit, you know? That’s a different meal entirely; that’s bad. And you can have a bad slice of pizza, and you can have a really good slice of pizza, but it’s important to fall back on the comfort of going, “We make pizza. People like pizza. It’s greasy, and it’s gooey, and it’s crispy, and we do it right.” Sometimes, we don’t redefine fucking television with every slice. 
     
    Our below average episodes may not redefine television and try something amazing, but they're still enjoyable, and this is what they do. Pizza is pizza for its lack of ambition and warm, comforting feeling; these episodes aren't, say, a souffle.

  • I wasn't referring to you, but you just did what I was saying: equating pizza with below average. I don't think that was Harmon's intent. He's not outlining a dichotomy of either redefining TV or settling for below average TV. I think he's saying it's perfectly fine and even necessary to make comfort food and that can be great TV too. Of course, he threw that out the window whenever he felt bored or anxious to "check off" items when he felt his time was running out, but then again, Harmon has always been a hugely contradictory person.

  • I never said pizza is only a below average episode. They can have pizza episodes that are above average, but even the ones below average are still enjoyable because they're pizza. That's the point. But you can use the saying, Pizza is pizza, for below average episodes without ambition. Sure, they don't do much, and they're not the best, but even cold pizza is good. Here's how Harmon would describe the episodes in a bit of self-loathing: 

    56. Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts  
    Two characters remarry, and two other characters pretend they don't care about weddings but then they get drunk. A wedding episode? God, kill me now.

    55. Biology 101 
    Okay, this one is weird at some points, but on its basic level it's about a group going through growing pains. 

    54. Investigative Journalism 
    There's this one guy who's really annoying and the group doesn't want him there, but they're too nice at first to push him out. Even grade schoolers have gone through this story.

    53. Advanced Gay 
    The gay veneer of the episode hides the fact that it's just another episode about fathers. Even Barney Miller had gay people. 

    52. Football, Feminism and You 
    A former football player is tricked into joining a football team, and a girl learns to go with other girls to the bathroom, because that's what girls do. Oh god, is this Charles in Charge? Shoot me in the fucking face. 

    51. Studies in Modern Movement
    Characters move in together. Whoop-dee-fucking-doo. I'm out! I can't take this anymore.  
     
    *jumps into a bath of vodka and bubbles*

  • I would just like to point that I would probably comfortably say that my numbers 50 and up (at least) are great episodes of television.  And I love pizza.

  • Gah, I think my write ups are too short. I should make them a bit longer. (and I'll be getting the first to you very soon, like today or tomorrow I think)

  • And just for the fun of it, I'll be covering where the episodes that have already shown up placed on my list:
    71. Geography of Global Conflict
    70. Competitive Wine Tasting
    69. Contemporary Impressionists
    67. Course Listing Unavailable
    66. Competitive Ecology
    65. Celebrity Pharmacology
    64. Custody Law and European Diplomacy
    63. Studies in Modern Movement
    62. Intro to Political Science
    61. Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts
    59. Basic Genealogy
    58. Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts
    57. Advanced Gay
    55. Biology 101
    53. Interpretive Dance
    51. Advanced Criminal Law
    49. Asian Population Studies
    47. The Politics of Human Sexuality
    44. Investigative Journalism
    38. The Art of Discourse
    22. Football, Feminism and You

    Other people should do this too!

  • Pilot and OVM are my lowest ranked episodes still remaining. 

  • My lowest ones are Intro to Finality and The First Chang Dynasty.

  • reuelb5427

    For me it's VSA and Basic Rocket Science. 

  • reuelb5427

    71. Competitive Wine Tasting
    70. Contemporary Impressionist
    69. Studies in Modern Movement
    68. Geography of Global Conflict
    67. The Art of Disclosure
    66. Basic Genealogy
    65. Course Listing Unavailable
    64. Advanced Criminal Law
    61. Interpretive Dance
    60. Celebrity Pharmacology 
    57. Investigative Journalism
    56. Football, Feminism, and You
    52. Custody Law and European Diplomacy
    51. Asian Population Studies
    50.  Intro to Political Science
    47. Advanced Gay
    45. The Politics of Human Sexuality
    43. Biology 101
    41. Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts
    39. Competitive Ecology
    36. Urban Matrimony And Sandwich Arts

  • Huh. Looking over the list so far, I think I may have misranked a few things. Oops.

  • There are no wrong answers

  • Yo bongoes, would you be able to get me at least your first write-up relatively soon?

  • I already told you, (A few comments up) but yes, by tonight I think.

  • 71. Celebrity Pharmacology
    70. Competitive Wine Tasting
    69. Custody Law and European Diplomacy
    67. Advanced Criminal Law
    66. Interpritative Dance
    65. Contemporary Impressionists
    63. Basic Genealogy
    62. Course Listing Unavailable
    61. Geography of Global Conflict
    60. The Politics of Human Sexuality
    56. Football, Feminism and You
    54. Biology 101
    53. Studies in Modern Movement
    49. Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts
    48. Advanced Gay
    47. Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts
    46. Asian Population Studies
    43. Investigative Journalism
    40. Competitive Ecology
    36. The Art of Discourse
    26. Intro ot Political Science.

    The episode I'm looking forward to seeing the ranking of is the Pilot.

  • I feel like waiting til the end would save us all a lot of time.

  • I think it's fun to keep track as we go along. *shrug*

  • Also, people do this sort of thing all the time during these sorts of list projects on other message boards I've frequented. It's a fun way of looking at where you differ from the consensus or where you're similar up to that point.

  • I'll be posting my full list at the end.

  • THREE CHEERS FOR PIZZA!

    HIP HIP…

  • While Modern Movement has its issues — the webisode-y feel, Troy and Abed being idiots and apparently forgetting everything they know about Annie, the crayon contract — it's still an episode that I enjoy a lot. It does very well by Annie as the individualist I grew to love before she turned into a lovelorn cliche for most of s3. She demands respect and holds to her principles. I also liked the minor bit about her retreating to caring for Pierce to feel like an adult again. Then there's the excellent Britta material: giving sound advice to Annie and then not holding Jeff's lie over his head because she understood what he was going through, plus the usual Gillian greatness (loved her "that's nice" in the car). And THEN there's still the Seal montage, one of the few broad and wacky notes in s3 that really worked for me. I don't want to repeat what I've said about it before but everything in it works, from Pierce's self-importance and Jesus to Jeff's catharsis and the puppet play. This episode grew on me more than probably any other episode besides BSR; I really didn't like it after the first viewing and now it's a respectable 38 on my list.

  • I feel the same.  Not exactly as much a turnaround as Mixology, but this one keeps improving on rewatch for me.  I can't even explain why I like the montage.  It's the sort of thing that usually inspires cringe-y hate and I can't stand to watch.  But because everyone commits and the different scenes are so well edited together, it's great.  And the car scene is just a fantastic little character study of the two ladies…plus Jesus is great.

    Doesn't hurt that the shop girl looks creepily, creepily like me (okay, me with longer, darker hair) so that scene looks like Joel McHale is talking to me.  It's kind of creepy and wonderful and no I haven't rewound it approximately 82.5 times.  Nope.  Not at all.

  • Oh I can explain. 
     
    This is NPR? 
     
    The episode also grew on me. It's nice, warm, comforting pizza. I used to actively dislike it; now I love watching it. It's nice seeing the younger kids screw up in the way younger kids do: they ignore sage advice and end up doing lots of silly stuff attempting to live together. Plus, JEEESUUUUSSSS loves marijuana!

  • I liked this episode from the beginning and I like it more now. While I don't buy that Abed and Troy would have been that insensitive either, the tirade it inspires in Annie still feels true, like this is an imbalance — her trading in her seriousness and quieter nature to fit in with a louder, brasher crowd, and not the other way around — that she would have felt before, and it would have stuck in her craw. And it's one of few moments that's just about Annie in a season where she's that lovelorn cliche, or fretting in the wings of someone else's crisis.

  • "or fretting in the wings of someone else's crisis"

    Yup, that's the other one.

  • Regarding Troy and Abed – sometimes people are unusually silly.

  • I don't have a problem with Troy and Abed being so insensitive, especially considering that it all takes place over the course of a handful of hours. I've had roommates do a lot of shitty, insensitive things to me, and I'm sure I've done shitty, insensitive things to roommates in turn. I feel like it's all just part of the learning process of figuring out how to live with someone to whom you're not related, doubly difficult if that person is already a friend. Is it silly that they honestly thought she'd rather live in a blanket fort and preserve the Dreamatorium? Yes. But it was a good way to demonstrate, in a silly way, that they thought they'd done enough by offering her a bed and didn't really want to change their lives for her. I've encountered that too many times to not have it feel real.

  • I really, really like Modern Movement. I think it's a great character study for both Annie and Jeff and provides a lot of hilarious moments to boot, such as the karaoke and the puppet play. I think I ranked it in my top 25.

  • reuelb5427

    So, I was the low ranking for Modern Movement. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

  • Shame, regret, remorse, heartache, sorrow, repentance, embarrassment, dishonor?

  • reuelb5427

    All of the above?

  • These episodes certainly aren't bad; there are are just better episodes out there.  
     
    I now link Applied Anthro and Urban Matrimony together as a two-part boring Shirley saga. She gives birth in a classroom and remarries at Greendale. Ew. 
     
    What about babies? 
    What about them, dick?
     
    I think Investigative Journalism is ranked too low, and people unfairly malign it because of Jack Black, even though I think he does a great job as Buddy.

  • I agree about Jack Black. What else do people expect from the character description of Buddy?

    Also, he gave us this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

  • I like the Jack Black element of Journalism, and not in a way like "oh I'm so cool because I'm Jack Black" but in a way where they are kind of winking at it. 

    I also really like the idea that Jeff would struggle so mightily with reinvention and that he would seize on a guy from a show he's never seen as his model. It affords him some more great scenes with Abed the student of human character, and meanwhile Jeff's insistence on cracking wise and schlubbing it in a Hawaiian t-shirt always gets me.  But I was weirdly annoyed by the plot with Annie and the paper, and the odd resolution. Especially when Annie seems half-confused by the fact that she was thanking Jeff for getting mad at her (hey, I was confused too). 

  • I really loved Jeff as Hawkeye in this episode, partly because it suits him so well, and partly because it's great to see MASH and Hawkeye on TV. I'm not sure what most of the communists know of MASH. I think to the younger generation it's a Citizen Kane-type that's more academic and historical. I'm sure some have seen many episodes of the show, but most are like Jeff Winger: they haven't seen one. MASH was one of the most inventive shows ever and damn funny too. What ties the theme in with the show is how Jeff can't just kick back and drink martinis; he had to bark orders when the choppers arrived. 
     
    Also, Buddy is great stunt casting. He fits the role of being annoying very well. 

  • Hey, sorry I'm late with my blurbs, NYE got in the way.  I'll try and get it to you later tonight.

  • I knew I was going to be the highest ranker for "Urban Matrimony".  I love the shit out of that episode.

  • A bunch of surprises.  "Advanced Gay" was really the only one here for which my ranking was close.

  • Now things are getting more fun. In the first few installments, my rankings were usually within a handful of spots of our overall ranking. (The only one I've been really surprised by so far, and have had the biggest difference with, is the relatively low ranking of Interpretive Dance. I mean, shit, people.)

    The episodes I have ranked lower than what we've seen so far are: BSR, Vampire Mythology, Home Ec, Pascal's (sorry Janine), Chang Dynasty, and Social Psychology.

  • You don't like Social Psychology or Home Ec? I mean, shit, snow.

  • Hey, who says I didn't like them? At mid to low 50s territory, they were solidly in the "like" territory; there's just a lot of episodes I like better and have fewer issues with. 

    BLAME COMMUNITY

  • I feel like I may have skewed things somehow…or, contrariwise, that my rankings were so far outside the norm, they ended up having no significant impact on the results. Weirdly (or so I thought), only one of my bottom seven episodes has been revealed so far, and I had two overall highest rankings in the (I think) bottom group of episodes (CL&EED at 35 (collective rank: 67) and CLU at 20 (collective rank: 68)).