Trying to accurately describe Community to someone who has never seen it proves to be tricky. It’s a mad, zany, creative, dean-lightful comedy that revolves around a study group at Greendale Community College. The show has amassed a cult following over the course of its first five seasons, which saw Community on the brink of cancellation several times, as well as the firing and re-hiring of the show’s creator, Dan Harmon. Following its actual cancellation at the end of its fifth season, the show has moved formats from television to Yahoo Screen for a 13-episode-long sixth season, moving it one step closer to its now legendary goal of six seasons and a movie. So, without further adu, it’s time to Bear Down for the Top 5 Community episodes.
- ‘Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design’
When Dean Pelton discovers that Jeff Winger is taking a fake class revolving around conspiracy theories, he confronts Jeff to find out the truth. Jeff subsequently argues that the class is real, introducing the teacher Professor Professorson. When Jeff then admits to Annie that he has never met Professor Professorson before, and has no idea why the teacher turned up to defend his lie, the pair set off to discover the truth. The episode parodies popular conspiracy thrillers such as Enemy of the State, culminating in a series of revelations that have hilarious results. Something to look out for if you are a University of Kent student; Professor Professorson instructs Jeff to read chapters 10-12 of Douglas, which is considered as a highly likely reference to Professor Karen M. Douglas in Kent’s School of Psychology, who has published work on conspiracy theories.
- ‘Mixology Certification’
‘Mixology Certification’ saw Community do something in a different vein than episodes before it, by taking the craziness (but crucially not the humour) away from the episode in lieu of character development. After discovering that Troy is about to turn 21 and not 20, the group heads out to a bar to celebrate. There they discover many things, from Shirley’s infamous past drinking exploits, to Annie’s rather strange Corpus Christi Texan accent. The most important aspect of this episode though was with Troy, who rather than bowing to the peer pressure of joining in with the excessive drinking that Jeff and Britta partake in, steps up to become the adult for the night, showing that beneath all the silliness, his character has grown, making this a top episode for the show.
- ‘Intro to Political Science’
No list of the best episodes of Community can be compiled without mentioning the popular Magnitude, the self-professed one-man party, and ‘Intro to Political Science contains an abundance of him. With the imminent visit of the Vice President of the United States, the Dean announces that an election will be held for Student Body President. Annie decides to run, causing Jeff to also run so that he can prove how stupid he finds politics. Highlights include Pierce’s campaign tactics (insulting fellow candidate Vicki before realising the microphones are all on) and Magnitude’s spirited debate with Leonard simply blowing raspberries in response to Magnitude’s catchphrase: ‘Pop-Pop!’ This one is worth watching a re-watching just to see Jeff’s 1997 audition tape for ‘The Real World’ again and again.
- ‘Advanced Dungeons and Dragons’
‘Advanced Dungeons and Dragons’ demonstrates just how creative Community can be in leaps and bounds. The entire episode is focused on the study group, with the addition of Fat Neil, taking part in a game of Dungeons and Dragons in their study room. The game is played entirely in their minds, but the episode doesn’t create any of this; the viewer has to play along, imagining the game as well. Excellent sound effects and the usual plethora of jokes fire quickly in this clever adventure, complete with a fantasy-esque rendition of the opening theme.
- ‘Modern Warfare’
This episode from Season One is quite simply a joy to watch. When Jeff storms out of the group’s study room and takes a nap in his car, he wakens to find the college campus a barren wasteland, covered in paint. The students have divided and formed alliances in order to win a campus-wide paintball match, with the prize being priority registration for modules in the next semester. What follows is a near-perfect and now classic Community episode full of action-movie references including The Matrix and Scarface as the study group teams up to win the prize.
If you’re a Human Being who follows Community, you can catch Season Six airing in the UK on the Sony Channel every Wednesday.