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.
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.
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.
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.
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