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Episode Discussion 5.13, "Basic Sandwich"


THE STUDY GROUP DELVES INTO THE LEGEND OF DISGRACED FORMER GREENDALE DEAN RUSSELL BORCHERT – SUBWAY MAKES PLANS TO TAKE OVER GREENDALE – CHRIS ELLIOTT GUEST STARS – The group learns the history of Greendale’s first Dean, Russell Borchert (guest star Chris Elliott, “Eagleheart”), a reclusive, wealthy genius who disappeared amid a personal scandal in the 1970s. Once Shirley and Hickey locate the school’s blueprints, Annie and Abed lead the search for Borchert’s old computer lab, which was sealed off years ago. Subway returns to Greendale with plans to take over the campus for a Subway University and they enlist Chang to secretly keep tabs on the study group. Meanwhile, Jeff and Britta make a grown-up decision about their futures.


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Good morning, Communies! Well, I thought that was a vast improvement over last week. And I was happy to see Subway cast as the villain (sort of) because I work for a different chain of sandwich shops. Let's see what others with less pronounced conflicts of interest thought:

Eric Goldman, IGN:
All of which is to say, I raised an eyebrow at Jeff and Britta not only reconciling at the end of this episode (with a sweet nod to how this show began), but saying they were going to run off and get married. Now actually, I’d endorse this – I like those two together (sorry, Jeff/Annie shippers). But with one more episode left, something tells me a curveball is coming. And I do wonder how Annie might end up involved… keeping in mind Jeff ending up with her as a season finale surprise would harken back to Season 1. (8.8/10)

Britt Hayes, ScreenCrush:
Jeff and Britta getting married is just about the worst idea since Britta and Troy hooking up or Changnesia. But as a segue for the big buried treasure declaration and the juxtaposition of where Jeff and Britta are versus where the rest of the gang wants to be, it was cleverly done. I just wish the rest of the episode clicked as much as that moment.

Alan Sepinwall, HitFix:
So if Harmon's hedging his bets against the show ending next week by having the two of them get together in a more substantial way, it makes sense, even as I imagine any remaining Jeff/Annie 'shippers will be most displeased by the news. But even though Joel McHale and Gillian Jacobs played the scene sincerely, it's clear that he's proposing and she's saying yes — or, rather, "Okay, yeah" — out of desperation rather than a belief that they actually want to do this.

Todd VanDerWerff, A.V. Club:
Really, having one of the central tensions of the episode be “Jeff and Britta want to get married now” shouldn’t work. The two have danced around the question of their coupling so many times from so many different angles that it’s difficult to find a new way to pick up that particular ball unless the show is going to give it some new meaning. And yet I found myself enjoying that moment more than almost any other in the episode (and this was an enjoyable episode overall), because I think it spoke to Abed’s insistence that everybody was in the middle of a story, even if they didn’t want to admit it. (A-minus)

Gabrielle Moss, TV Fanatic:
But the episode's explanation of its own narrative workings--a lifting of the hood, so to speak--offered some excellent insight into the role narrative plays not just in our favorite TV shows, but our own lives. Why decide to get spontaneously married to someone you've run pretty hot and cold to over the course of five years (or seasons...whatever)? On this show and in life, it's all about the forward-momentum of narrative; it's why the study hall gang does dumb things, and it's also why we do dumb things. Crisis is movement, and though we're loathe to admit it, it feels better than just laying around. (4.7/5)

Brian Collins, Badass Digest:
It's hilarious to me that a show like Lost will end without getting around to answering some of its bigger questions, but Community will go out of its way to dedicate 15 seconds to explaining a harmless mistake from 5 years ago.

Tim Morse, Morse Code:
Jim Rash, as always, makes me almost die of laughter (3 or 4 times this episode). But the last scene of him with Abed and Annie freaking out over the treasure map was absolutely hilarious. Also, a treasure map story. What the hell? Random and ridiculous. It’s Community, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Jennifer Marie, Just About Write:
That’s all well and good, but the motivation for Jeff’s proposal is anything but good. It’s rooted in the exact same selfishness and desperation that led him to try and get into Britta’s pants in season one. This time, though? This time she’s just a rebound from his recent break-up with Greendale. The most jarring thing to me about this scene was the moral it imposed on us, as viewers. The final part of Dan Harmon’s notorious story circle is that a character returns to a familiar situation “having changed.” But… where is the change in Jeff Winger, exactly?

Joe Matar, Den of Geek:
But then, like so much modern Community, it got all weird and wayyyy too much up its own butt. And I know this is a show that’s often up its own butt, and since us fans are usually up there along with it, we have fun exploring that butt like it’s a Community History Butt Museum or something, pointing out all the things we remember from earlier in the series that are paying off now. But(t) listen, it’s possible to go too far up a butt.

Nick O'Malley, masslive.com:
Most of the episode's best moments were a result of timing. Whether it was Abed (Danny Pudi) saying “Let’s let the lack of story...” before waiting a beat and walking off the screen or Prof. Hickey's (Jonathan Banks) threat (“If I come over there, there are gonna be two sounds: Me hitting you... twice.") the best lines were a result of great comedic timing.

Nick Hogan, TV Overmind:
I can’t say enough about Jim Rash as Dean Pelton. Not only is Rash a fantastic writing talent (Rent The Descendants if you haven’t seen it), but he REALLY commits to everything he does. When the board and the new ownership found him sobbing in his office in his underpants, it lasted all of two seconds, but I laughed the hardest I’d laughed all night. Just perfect.

Randy Dankievitch, Sound on Sight:
With no resolution (often Community‘s strongest quality), it makes the entire episode feel incomplete, a series of scenes tough to disseminate (beyond their obvious thematic allusions and connections) without the perspective of knowing what happens. The drama isn’t in this episode – something Abed goes way out of his way to point out – but in what is to come, making this entire half-hour feel inconsequential in the short-term.

Jason Bailey, Flavorwire
For a show that spends plenty of time playing in the meta sandbox, this week’s episode represents a continuation (after last week’s “G.I. Jeff”) of the idea of pushing beyond inside jokes and self-awareness, and genuinely exploring (and exploding) the very nature of fiction.

Daniel Cohen, Pop Break:
To be honest, Abed just hasn’t been that strong this season. I don’t know if it’s a no Troy thing, but something about him just seemed pathetic all year. This storyline encapsulated my feelings on Abed perfectly. The whole “Avoiding a story/Not avoiding a story” thing just did not work for me. They also shoehorned in the bearded Abed, which felt very season four-ish.

Tim Surette, tv.com:
As a string of individual jokes, I thought "Basic Story" was one of the best episodes of Season 5. As a complete episode, not so much. But it's too hard to tell at this stage, because a lot of it can roll into the second half of the finale. Until then, it was a funny episode that didn't entirely work as a whole.

Ryan Schwartz, The TV Page:
After making Jeff a complete and total ass, and dumbing down Britta to a point of almost no return, Harmon made it a priority to dig these characters out from the wreckage created before and during his absence. Harmon has always leaned away from letting romance drive the show in any one direction, and there’s no reason to believe he’s about to start now, so it’ll be interesting to see how this plot proceeds.

OK, I've got to go to work so that'll do it for now. See you next week for the season finale. And JUST the season finale, right, NBC?

Episode Discussion 5.12, "Basic Story"


THE STUDY GROUP LEARNS THAT SUBWAY PLANS TO TAKE OVER THE GREENDALE CAMPUS FOR A UNIVERSITY – THEY ALSO LEARN THAT GREENDALE’S FIRST DEAN MAY HAVE LEFT BEHIND A VALUABLE LEGACY – As Subway makes plans to purchase the Greendale campus for their own Subway University, the study group members contemplate the end of an era. Jeff considers a generous offer of employment he has received from Subway, while Britta considers an offer she has received from Jeff. Meanwhile, Dean Pelton tells Annie and Abed about Greendale’s first Dean Russell Borchert, which leads to an interesting and potentially lucrative discovery in the walls of Greendale.
Good evening, Communies! Or good morning for those of you on the east coast. So, how about that new episode of Community last night? I thought it was ... well, "terrible" is too strong a word, but boy, I sure didn't like it a lot. Check out my personal journal tomorrow afternoon if you want details. Meanwhile, here's what the critics had to say about it.

Tim Surette, tv.com:
Opinions on "G.I. Jeff" are going to vary wildly, and here's mine: I liked it! Ta-da! But I also don't think it entirely worked.

Matt Carter, cartermatt.com:
However, the episode just got more and more brilliant as it went on, especially when the walls were starting to be broken down and it was clear that this entire story was a delusion inside Jeff’s mind after a depression-related bender upon his 40th birthday.

Britt Hayes, ScreenCrush:
“G.I. Jeff” is all-time ‘Community’ greatness, you guys. Not just as a concept episode, not just as one of the show’s few animated entries, but as a whole, everything clicks. The narrative rhythm is fast-paced, and the dialogue exchanges are snappy, but more importantly, the metatextual concept is absolutely wonderful.

Alan Sepinwall, HitFix:
Not an incredibly deep episode, but a fun one, though I wonder how many of the jokes landed for those with little to no investment in this cheesy '80s toy commercial disguised as a cartoon.

Eric Goldman, IGN:
There are no doubt some Community fans who never watched G.I. Joe and I have no idea how this episode will play for them. I’d hope they could still appreciate how odd it was and jokes about how no one dies in a carton. But certainly, the more familiar you are with G.I. Joe, the more this worked. And it sure worked for me.

Todd VanDerWerff, A.V. Club:
Still, this is a very enjoyable, very funny episode of Community that ultimately has some interesting things to say about getting older and about the crippling haze that nostalgia can spread over our lives. I suspect when I think of it later on, I will think of it primarily in terms of its great gags, but I’m also pleased that the episode ended up being a lot more than just a G.I. Joe parody.

Gabrielle Moss, TV Fanatic:
Is Community so strong a flavor that even merging completely with another brand couldn't blot it out? I'd say yes. The episode expertly blended multiple mediums (animation, live action commercials) into something that worked on a deeper level than just straight-ahead narrative; something that hit me right in the childhood. The commercials alone were a thing of demented beauty, reminiscent of Charlie Kaufman's work.

Untempered Television:
Having a character experience something that in any other universe would make them insane in order to learn a lesson is not a new avenue for Community to explore (as Abed reminds us, “Dealing with things through a psychotic break happens to the best of us”) but this episode was so wonderfully strange and different, it never for once felt like a rehash.

Jacob Harrington and Spenser Milo, Based on Nothing:
G.I. Joe was way before my time. But this episode’s style and parody pallet really worked for me. The animation nailed the theme, and there’s some great clunky editing. (Harrington) If I had to pinpoint a particular reason why the episode didn’t work for me — and I suppose I have to as I’m writing a review for it — it’d have to be that I didn’t find the episode entirely necessary. It’s like Community using an animation gimmick just for the sake of finally having a full animated episode already.

Joe Matar, Den of Geek:
If I give this episode any kudos it’s because it’s quite simply one of the oddest half-hours of primetime sitcom television I’ve ever seen. I have to admire the ambition, the effort, and the dedication, but I still don’t think that weirdness added up to anything very good.

Nick O'Malley, masslive.com:
Which brings us to Jeff addressing the fact that he's getting kind of old. It's familiar territory for Jeff's character, so going into a retread here seems to indicate that the writers were more interested in the G.I. Joe experiment than they were in really fleshing out Jeff's character.

Brian Collins, Badass Digest:
This is that rare one that works as a "There is nothing else like this show on television" example of how brilliant they can be, AND keeps the laughs coming, making it a winner.

Sarah Shachat, ScreenCrave:
All that serious stuff aside, the episode was really funny. It’s probably funnier to folks who grew up on the G.I. Joe cartoons; but the humor was broad enough to include wonderful visuals like Britta’s buzz-arm, character-centric declarations specific to the show (our intro to Annie’s avatar Tight Ship, “I control everything!”) and good enough at calling out the structure of this universe to make it funny.

Randy Dankievitch, Sound on Sight:
“Accessible”? Hardly: this is one of the most niche episodes Community could ever produce – but it’s also a stroke of genius, a story told in a specific format for a very specific reason.

Jon Bowling, Character Grades:
As I’ve said Community works best when they can break with reality while still maintaining the show’s heart and strong character development. Episodes like Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas are perfect examples. G.I. Jeff while an incredibly fun episode and an excellent satire of 1980’s Americana and animation just doesn’t move the story forward in the way that it should.

Jennifer Marie, Just About Write:
I did not like this episode. It’s not that I didn’t admire the work and effort that was put into recreating G.I. Joe and tailoring it to fit Community. Oh, that I totally and completely admired. But as someone who has never watched a moment of G.I. Joe in her entire twenty-five years of life and doesn’t intend to start now, the homage was lacking. And the reason why, to be honest, is because every other Community homage has been broad enough to connect with viewers. I feel like “G.I. Jeff” was not an homage to Saturday morning cartoons in general – it was a specific homage to one specific show that a lot of people (like myself) had never seen. And there is something lost on you when you don’t get the characters or the plot or the purpose of an homage.

Robert Emmett, Word of the Nerd:
This one is both a reverent homage and a sharply sarcastic parody. We share a nostalgic moment from our childhood, and we are reminded that these characters – as well as the show– are growing older. I am pleasantly amazed that well into the fifth season the show is still able to deliver something fresh, unexpected, funny and relevant.

Justin, Generals Joes:
Community didn’t treat this as some sort of homage, they actually designed this entire episode to take place within the confines of an actual Sunbow animated episode, complete with toy commercials (featuring some terrific and inspired customs). Every single element of “G.I. Joe” within the episode was awesome, hilarious, and totally nostalgia inducing.

Clarence, Redheaded Mule:
Unfortunately, this episode will likely get pummeled by Big Bang Theory in the ratings. But some editors of TV Tropes are probably in an infinite loop of squee.

John Wood, Half Decent:
Community has never been afraid to play with old styles to various degrees of success; for every Old Western paintball, there is a puppet episode. This week, they make a G.I. Joe 80’s cartoon rip-off entitled G.I. Jeff that is clearly a loving homage with a lot of solid jokes, but unfortunately it’s arguably the most polarizing episode in Community’s history.

Maersky, HyperNerd Creative:
So apparently, the producers of the show thought that it would be a good idea to mix their sitcom with the contradicting 80s morals of the popular 80s cartoon GI JOE. Boy were they right!!

Dan Owen, Dan's Media Digest:
Overall, it's great something as bonkers as a GI Joe-style episode of Community can get made, and if you were a young fan of the franchise I'm sure this worked much better for you... but for me it wasn't anything I'd count as especially funny, just an admirable endeavour.

Jocelyn W, TV Equals:
Even if you are a G.I. Joe novice, there was still plenty to appreciate about the episode, including the writers poking fun at a cartoon based on soldiers in which no one ever dies. The incorporation of the commercials was also pretty funny.
Juliette Harrisson, Doux Reviews:
I'm not sure this was quite as successful as 'Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas' and as it is perhaps symptomatic of the series' tendency to re-use old ideas, which as ChrisB pointed out in the comments last week they've been doing rather a lot lately (I must admit it's been bugging me since the unnecessary extension of the brilliant pillow fort idea in season three, though hypocritically I do like the second paintball story from season two).

Alan Rapp, Razorfine:
That was awesome! Unapologetically pulling the nostalgic strings of everyone who grew up watching G.I. JOE: A Real American Hero, and guaranteeing I will buy this season on DVD, the only question anyone needs to ask about G.I. Jeff is: Is it a great episode of Community or the greatest episode of Community?

Jared Russo, Geek Binge:
For the beginning 19 minutes, it was a tour de force. And for the last 2 minutes, it just floundered. The ending was really convenient, way too easy, and simplistic to be satisfying at all. I understand you want to conclude every episode in a nice bow, all wrapped up so that none of the events of the story meddle in future continuity, but the hospital bed scene was pretty weak.

Gonzo Green, Bubble Blabber:
The young boy inside me (one of the only ways I can use that statement, amiright?) wanted me to simply slap a ‘10’ on this and call it a night. I mean, they killed it with this episode. It had just the right amount of parody and tribute, while still being decidedly unique to Community. The character assignments and creations were brilliant, and the cast did a tremendous job in voicing their characters.

Nick Hogan, TV Overmind:
This episode was a blast. I loved cartoons like this growing up and this was like my favorite sitcom all wrapped up in my childhood TV experiences. It was an excellent viewing experience littered with all sorts of past episode references.

Logan J. Fowler, Pop Break:
Wow. Just wow. Under normal sitcom circumstances, another program couldn’t combine an 80’s cartoon with a regular live action comedy, but the latest episode of Community pulled it off with flying colors. Yo Joe!

Thanks for reading everyone! See you next week for the penultimate episode of the 5th season!


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Episode Discussion 5.11, "G.I. Jeff"


THE STUDY GROUP GETS ‘ANIMATED’ IN THE VEIN OF THE 1980S ‘G.I. JOE’ SERIES - Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Yvette Nicole Brown, Danny Pudi, Alison Brie, Jim Rash, Ken Jeong, Jonathan Banks and John Oliver star.
Title: Community At The Moves
Fandom: Community + Multiple Movies
Song & Artist: Medicine by Broken Bells
Description: DO YOU LIKE COMMUNITY? DO YOU LIKE MOVIES? Well then this video is... Actually it's pretty all over the place and I really don't know what I was doing and just...forgive me? I thought it would be fun to highlight a bunch of the Homage/Parody stuff they do frequently in Community. I even came up with a new word for it! #ExplainABrag
This is what I get when I spend way too much time re-watching Community, reading the Community Wiki, and recreating Fonts.

Watch it HERE



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Good afternoon, Communies! It is I, John the Ranger, here to track down reviews of last night's new Community episode. Huzzah! Adventure!

Mat Carter, cartermatt.com:
there were also still plenty of laughs and, more so than that, plenty of imagination. There are some “Community” episodes that you really need to watch more than once to fully understand, and this is one of them. (A-)

Tim Surette, tv.com:
Did it triumph? In a word, no; it was fine, not amazing. But even if I'd never seen the O.G. version, I'd still be saying that "Advanced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" was an okay-but-not-great episode of Community, as it relied on gimmick over substance.

Britt Hayes, ScreenCrush:
Jonathan Banks is really settling into the role of Hickey, and this week gives him a chance to really show how comfortable he’s gotten, using the former cop skills of his character along with his gruff demeanor to play the game rather well. I’m also consistently pleased with how that gruffness is translated into the world of ‘Community’ — someone with Banks’ natural inflection and tone could be so easily limited and typecast, but there’s so many shades to what he does, and he finds a playfulness and quirkiness that has really sewn itself into the fabric of the study group almost seamlessly.

Alan Sepinwall, HitFix:
Comedy-wise, though, only a couple of the gags could be reasonably held up against the ones that were overflowing in the first: Buzz interrogating a pair of hobgoblins (both played by Abed) and masterfully turning one against the other like the nasty cop he used to be, and Dean Pelton getting his hug from Jeff no matter the cost.

Todd VanDerWerff, A.V. Club:
I liked the idea that having the two of them in the same room—even if they couldn’t stand each other—talking through their issues via the proxy of the game was almost as good as an actual reconciliation. But it also felt incredibly rushed, as if the episode wanted to make sure it wrapped everything up in time. (B+)

Polar Bears Watch TV:
Thankfully, “Advanced Advanced Dungeons and Dragons” is able to maintain a sense of uniqueness as it delivers a flawed, yet entertaining, 21 minutes. (B)

Brian Collins, Badass Digest:
There's a fun bit where Hickey (once he starts figuring the game out) interrogates Abed's troll NPC, and the big showdown is kind of funny since we just see a montage of McHale, Brie, Jacobs etc making funny gestures and shouting nonsense while LOTR style music pumps over the soundtrack, but scattered moments aren't enough to overcome the fact that the episode has no reason to exist beyond "let's do D&D again."

Joe Matar, Den of Geek:
I admire the episode for changing up the format, but, for reasons already discussed, the new premise ultimately doesn’t carry a lot of dramatic heft with it and, well, what can I say? The best moments in this episode are never going to stand up to Pierce towering over Fat Neil and declaring, “Baste your chubby cheeks in tears of gravy.”

Jared Russo, GeekBinge:
I thought it did manage to maintain the creativity of the first episode while staying consistent with the hot streak this season has been on. It was a bit higher quality in terms of the game being played, but didn’t quite tug at my heart strings like the Fat Neil story did. (10/10)

Gabrielle Moss, TV Fanatic:
But while one of Community's greatest pleasures is simply watching the characters talk to each other, it helps when something - anything - else happens on an episode. Though there were some wonderful jokes, and Abed's performance as two hobgoblins was a tour de force achievement in field of Community lunacy, by the end of the show, nothing had really happened: no lessons had really learned and nothing had really changed. (4.6/5)

Eric Goldman, IGN:
It was the right call to not try to emulate something as heavy and big as Neil's suicidal thoughts, but it still felt like Buzz and his son’s reconciliation felt a bit undercooked at the end - there wasn’t a big enough moment to really help us see the shift that Jeff and the others saw and it felt like things wrapped up because it was time to wrap them up. (8.5/10)

Sarah Shachat, ScreenCrave:
The one thing that keeps this episode down is that Hickey and his son’s issues are pretty generic. They weren’t expanded on or exploited by the episode’s conceits. Cross is an actor who can carry that emotional load and be as funny. It was a shame he didn’t get to do both. (8/10)

Spenser Milo and Jacob Harrington, Based on Nothing:
The nice, personal story of Hickey’s brings the episode’s stakes to a moderate level where they’re believable just so we understand why our study group characters are involved in this nonsense. (SM) Maybe I would have preferred Dungeons and Dragons to stay out, and maybe I am weary of Community retreading too much old ground — but this episode was solid enough to beat those worries of mine back. (JH)

Jennifer Marie, Just About Write:
I’ll admit: the ending/resolution of “Advanced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” felt a bit understated for me. While I do appreciate that the show didn’t wrap up the episode exactly like it did with the first installment, I felt slightly befuddled by how quickly everything ended. The “revelation” and Winger speech by Jeff seemed to be like that of a fog on a sunny morning – prevalent enough to see and understand, but still not completely there.

George Prax. Better With Popcorm:
What a journey it was too. The best part was most certainly Hickey interrogating Abed's two goblin characters, which is wrong on so many levels. All of it was great. A worthy sequel, both in theme and content, to one of the best Community episodes ever. "Advanced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" gets 9.5 dingleberries out of 10.

Nick O'Malley, masslive.com:
The funniest sequence of the episode was easily Prof. Hickey's interrogation of the two goblins, as played by Abed. It's a great riff on the usual "separate two suspects and get them to turn on each other" shtick.

Lauren Stern, Pop-Break:
One thing I really was a tad disappointed with was Abed being the Dungeon Master. I kind of wish Harmon gave this role to someone else. I understand that this is really Abed’s forte, but I kind of felt his passion overshadowed Hank and Hickey reconciling.

Randy Dankievitch, Sound on Sight:
It has its heart in the right place, but “Advanced Advanced” is never really able to get off the ground, sputtering along with a perfectly competent, unexciting return to the fantastical, dice-laden world of Dungeons & Dragons.

Nick Hogan, TV Overmind:
This episode is one of those that you’d have to watch over and over again to get everything, but that’s what I love about Community. No matter how much you re-watch an episode, you always find something new.

Sean Gandert, Paste:
“Advanced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” did such a good job of self-criticism that it feels almost pointless mentioning the elephant in its proverbial room. The episode is a repeat (or sequel, if that’s what you want to call it), and Community, for all its strengths, doesn’t always repeat itself well. That being said, it really didn’t matter that we’ve seen this format before, as the sequel fully lived up to the original.

There's no new episode nexte last week in March is when Greendale has its spring break. Thanks for reading, and see you in April!

THE STUDY GROUP ORGANIZES A DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS GAME TO HELP PROFESSOR HICKEY REUNITE WITH HIS ESTRANGED SON HANK – DAVID CROSS GUEST STARS – Professor Hickey reveals that his estranged son Hank (guest star David Cross, “Arrested Development”) did not invite him to his grandson’s birthday. The group decides to help father and son reunite through a rousing game of “Dungeons and Dragons.”


RemixRedux is coming back and they're looking to update the fandom list. Community is one of the fandoms on the chopping block, so if you want to be part of the coolest remix challenge on the 'net (and, really, the original and best) take a minute and check out the post - http://remixers-lounge.livejournal.com/108796.html - and add your vote to the survey.


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Good morning, Communies! I've got a pile of hot textbooks to unload, so let's get down to business.

Matt Carter, cartermatt.com:
It wasn’t the show’s strongest episode ever, nor was it the weakest. It was instead a small, funny story that brought in a few guest stars, and really showed us where the NBC series is now. (B+)

Todd VanDerWerff, A.V. Club
I have a handful of issues with the episode’s treatment of the character of Rachel, but I liked the way that the episode revealed itself to be almost entirely about how Abed feels in the wake of Troy’s departure in this moment. When Abed ventured a tiny, tiny emotional response by telling Rachel that people have been leaving him his whole life, a lot of what the episode was trying to do snapped into place for me, and I felt all the more worried about what will happen when Rachel leaves for her movie career. (B+)

Alan Sepinwall, HitFix:
The rest of "VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing" was more of a mixed bag. After the dystopian apocalypse caused by MeowMeowBeanz, I appreciated the show dialing things back to a smaller scale but it was an episode that was for the most part neither fish nor fowl: not a ton of laughs but also not emotional stakes on the level of the Jeff/Duncan/Britta outing from a few weeks ago.

Brian Collins, Badass Digest:
I should be annoyed that a show that's often too crammed to provide good material for all eight of its principal characters will devote another 30 seconds or so to a guy that they never met (and introduce another character in the process), but there's something wonderfully insane about offering up a bit of this nothing character's backstory.

Gabrielle Moss, TV Fanatic:
Not to say that it was weak by any means. It was just a bit quiet in a season that's been mostly about loud, thunderous statements - but we do need those quiet episodes, so all those thunderous episodes in a row don't totally pop our ear drums (you know, the ear drums of our minds? You know what I mean). (4.6/5)

Polar Bears Watch TV:
As for the Hickey-Jeff-Shirley storyline, it’s definitely a step down; it’s entertaining and fitting, given Gilligan’s involvement in the episode, but it seems a bit limited, repeating character beats we’ve already seen before. Nevertheless, I do enjoy what the episode does with Shirley, and Kevin Chang’s become a really fun presence. (B+)

Joe Matar, Den of Geek:
Just because this is a Dan Harmon-run season doesn’t mean it does everything with flawless aplomb. Again, the buildup is minimal and this textbook outlaws plot is constantly skirting the line between being believable and not. But there is still the matter of consistency in tone and that’s the other thing Community episodes, including this one, typically get right.

Damon Houx, ScreenCrush:
One of the themes of ‘Community’ that’s been a consistent throughout it’s [sic] five seasons is that these people can be terrible, but often realize it and try to make it up to each other. This comes up again in tonight’s episode and though it was amusing, it felt a little formulaic and could be the weakest of the year.

Jared Russo, GeekBinge:
I thought it was too short. It just felt like there needed to be a bit more to each of the main two storylines. And both of them are very strong, and they had the potential to be their own A plots in another episode. (9.5/10)

Tim Morse, Morse Code:
But I couldn’t help but feel like this episode was muddled a bit. Maybe if they focused on one of the two stories and involved everyone, it would have worked better. I don’t think either story got the necessary amount of screen time for me to call either a success. (7.7/10)

Mark Harrison, Den of Geek:
The fact that the stand-out moments come close to the beginning and the end of the episode respectively, makes for a slightly puffy centre, limited by the uneven distribution of the regulars between sub-plots, and the slightly rushed conclusion.

Untempered Television:
I was strangely enthralled with the Annie/Anthony dynamic; her with her constant infectious optimism and his general demeanor as one who seems to have just returned home after years of living in the woods while serial killing on the side (even Abed could tell he was weird).

Sarah Shachat, ScreenCrave:
Although the storylines were slightly uneven, “VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing,” got the sentiment right in the end. The episode addresses the Troy Barnes-shaped hole in Abed and Annie’s life seriously, without losing a whit of silliness. Five tornado howdy! (8/10)

Nick Hogan, TV Overmind:
This was a hilarious episode. Community is getting better and better every week, and there’s no slowing it down. I mean, if Donald Glover’s departure won’t slow it down, what will?

Nick O'Malley, masslive.com:
The first official "Deal entering the study room in a ridiculous costume and saying something weird" moment of the season might have been the best one in the run of the show. The moment would have been a wonderful complement were it featured in a good episode. Instead, it stood out as the brief highlight in a mediocre one.

Jennifer Marie, Just About Write:
A show like Community cannot pretend that Troy’s absence or Pierce’s absence doesn’t affect its dynamic and structure and I think that for the most part, the writers and Harmon have tried to distract us with guest stars and homages and pop culture references in hopes that we would simply forget that the Greendale Seven are now the Greendale Five. And though this episode was flawed, I am glad that the writers and Harmon finally addressed the off-balanced nature of the study group in Troy's absence.

Eric Goldman, IGN:
Dan Harmon is not one to brush something under a rug or to think one big episode is all you need to deal with a character’s absence, and the lingering emotions centered around Troy leaving have been very well handled. (9.0)

Thanks for reading, everyone! See you next week for the return of Dungeons and Dragons.

JEFF, SHIRLEY AND HICKEY DISCOVER A HIDDEN CACHE OF PRISTINE TEXTBOOKS – ABED AND ANNIE EMPLOY AN INTERACTIVE VCR GAME TO DECIDE ON A NEW ROOMMATE – “BREAKING BAD” CREATOR VINCE GILLIGAN AND BRIE LARSON GUEST STAR – When Jeff, Shirley and Professor Hickey happen upon a hidden cache of textbooks, the discovery leads to some interesting power shifts as the group struggles with how to monetize their windfall. Meanwhile, Abed and Annie decide it’s time for a new roommate. Abed wants his friend Rachel (guest star Brie Larson, “United States of Tara”) to move in, while Annie wants her brother to move in. When they decide to play an old VCR game to determine the winner, things get a little intense.
Title: Insert Movie Title Here
Fandom: Community
Song & Artist: "How You Like Me Now" by the Heavy, "Unbelievers" by Vampire Weekend, "Let's Go" by Matt & Kim, and "Feeling a Moment" by Feeder
Description: Jeff is a jaded ex lawyer turned lazy teacher and Annie is the optimistic ex pill addict turned Greendale school supervisor who sets him straight. Otherwise known as THE MOST RIDICULOUS THING I'VE EVER MADE!!!

This was made in honor of the wonderful crackers4jenn being born and becoming awesome. Happy Late Birthday!!

Watch HERE @ nvrbnkisst
Good morning, Communies! I give last night's episode five Meow Meow Beans! And I give HitFix's Alan Sepinwall one Bean for going to see a play last night instead of staying home to watch Community and more than 12 hours later still having failed to post a review. Now let's see what the reviewers who take their jobs seriously had to say!

Matt Carter, cartermatt.com:
There were so many great moments in here, from Jeff working with the frat guys to Abed making small talk to Britta throwing mustard on her face to appeal to the commoners. It was completely ridiculous, but also funny through and through. (A-)

Brian Collins, Badass Digest:
Last week's episode was praised for toning things down and focusing on characters instead of a high concept, so in Community's world, it actually makes perfect sense that they'd come back with an episode that pays homage to Zardoz, of all goddamn things. The great thing about the show is that it can swing back and forth like this without giving its fans whiplash - it's always done fine with both ends of the spectrum.

Todd VanDerWerff, A.V. Club:
Some of it is wildly funny. Some of it is impressively original. Some of it has a lot to say about social media culture and the ways we try to make ourselves look better on Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet in general. And some of it is just a mess.

Gabrielle Moss, TV Fanatic:
The playfulness of this half hour, the Community quotes, the social commentary, the part where Britta becomes a socialist revolutionary-cum-warlord--I feel like we're finally seeing this show bloom into the complicated, deranged flower that we planted five seasons ago. (4.8/5)

Jared Russo, Geek Binge:
This is a loaded episode, that can often times be deep, and has a constant string of interesting things to show and profound things to say, however ridiculous both can be. “App Development and Condiments” is outlandish and wildly entertaining from the get-go, and never lets up. (10/10)

Ben Umstead, Twitch:
Franky, this is as close as Dan Harmon-led Community can get to paint by the numbers. Which is probably less a knock and more a testament to just how good the show remains.

Joe Matar, Den of Geek:
I can see a lot of people finding this one flat out dumb (and there’s certainly an argument there). I even sort of feel like I’m betraying my standards for what makes a Community episode good (I thought the previous episode was the best of this season). But for whatever reason, the very fact that “App Development and Condiments” is (mostly) ungrounded and unabashedly ridiculous is what made it work for me. (4/5)

Eric Goldman, IGN:
Unfortunatey, the episode kind of petered out at the end. Britta successfully getting almost everyone on her side was somewhat abruptly undone, adding a sad note just a week after she seemed to be heading in a better direction. (7.6/10)

PolarBear, Polar Bears Watch TV:
The episode is certainly overstuffed, as it attempts to provide social commentary on whatever seems to come up; admittedly, this could use a few extra minutes to let the plot breathe a bit. However, the concept alone is already infectious, grabbing hold of the audience the same way MeowMeowBeenz grabs hold of the school. The show throws itself headfi
rst into this idea, and man, does it pay off. (A-)

Nick O'Malley, masslive.com:
In the end, I felt robbed. I really wish we got more affirmation on the Jeff-Shirley relationship, another touching moment that builds upon their trust and friendship. Instead, it sort of just picks right back up with a shrug. I love the way these characters expose their true selves to each other, building an unlikely friendship. This time, though, I didn't feel like the resolution was earned.

Mark Harrison, Den of Geek:
App Development And Condiments represents the series at the very peak of its power, doing many of the things it's best at - high-concept escalations, character interactions, zeitgeist-y satire that never comes off as too arch or obvious - all at the same freaking time.

Thanks for reading!

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