Review Roundup for 5x13, "Basic Sandwich"

Good morning, Communies, and welcome to the last review roundup of the season! And possibly the last one ever? Let's hope not, because I don't want to be killed by an asteroid strike. But let's not worry about that right now; let's look at some reviews instead.

Gabrielle Moss, TV Fanatic:
The two-parter's (alongside Community Season 5 Episode 12) Goonies-meets-an-existential-crisis vibe presented the show in its most unadulterated form - creating a solid bedrock to send off for the Greendale...wait, are they back to 7? (4.7 / 5)

Tim Surette,
All told, I think both episodes comprised a very funny hour that didn't go as far off the deep end as many Community episodes do, yet still stood out from the rest of the comedies on network television.

Eric Goldman, IGN:
In an episode jam-packed with great meta moments, nothing will beat Abed’s line near the end. “We’ll definitely be back next year. If not, it’s because an asteroid has destroyed all of human civilization. And that’s canon!” (9.2 / 10)

Alan Sepinwall, HitFix:
If this winds up being the actual end (more on that in a moment), it felt appropriate that we would go out with an episode that was so acutely and vocally aware that it could be the last episode of a low-rated but beloved sitcom. And if Jeff thinking warmly about Britta, Annie, Abed and even Dean Pelton to reboot the computer wasn't a surprising character moment at this point in the series — even he long ago stopped pretending that he'd rather be rid of this place and these people — it was still a touching one.

Todd VanDerWerff, A.V. Club:
But its big emotional climax also involves Jeff trying to trick an ancient computer into feeling intense passion because of his love for his friends, and it features Chris Elliott at his Chris Elliott-est. Neither of these is unworkable, but the whole thing sort of feels thrown together at the last minute so everybody can head out for summer break. (B / season grade B+)

Matt Carter,
“Basic Sandwich” was not a revolutionary episode of the show that we’ll go back and watch a dozen times, but it was still an enjoyable romp [and] we still enjoyed it enough that we’re left chanting “six seasons and a movie” all over again. (A-)

Randy Dankievitch, Sound on Sight:
On some level, I have to think this is the point of “Basic Story” and “Basic Sandwich”; the stories are so absurd and superficial, it’s as if they’re designed to fall apart under the slightest scrutiny. Whether it’s devilishly clever writing, or just a mix of laziness and exhaustion from the end of a long production season, it makes for an interesting – if not slightly disappointing – interpretation of “the journey is more important than the destination.”

Aisha Harris. Slate:
“Even if we do save Greendale, which Greendale will we be saving?” Annie wonders. It’s a question worth asking, especially following last week’s filler episode in which the premise was that there was no premise to speak of (at least until the final moments). It was a little too on-the-nose, even for Community. But this week’s episode, and most of the other ones from this season, suggest that the show still has life in it.

Polar Bear, Polar Bears Watch TV:
“Basic Sandwich” is certainly a satisfying end to the uneven fifth season. The concept behind it is a bit shaky, consisting of a trip to a computer lab underneath Greendale, complete with the creator of the school and his emotion-lacking computer. However, the actual interactions we get are effective. (B+ / season grade B)

Tim Morse, Morse Code:
This show has always been ridiculous. But the story idea of a treasure hunt kind of takes the cake. But it allowed them to have a ton of fun in this episode, as they always seem to do. (9.0 / A)

Damon Houx, ScreenCrush:
Abed spells out that this might be a possible finale as his way to understand what’s going on, which straddles the line between clever and obvious, but it works in the context of the show. This season has been a little more aware of itself than usual, or perhaps is less afraid of embracing its more out there ideas, but this also ties into the show’s existentialism.

Joe Matar, Den of Geek:
The first part of Community’s two-part finale, “Basic Story,” was really rather a mess that felt like several disconnected plotlines and underdeveloped concepts tossed together. It did have those brief moments where it felt like possibly the show was returning to a familiar, good place ... Well, the second part, “Basic Sandwich,” gets rid of all the complicated stuff, but even the few good bits get thrown out with it. The episode is even less funny, more emotionless, and at times feels so comically unfamiliar; it’s like if the Farrelly brothers made a Community movie.

Brian Collins, Badass Digest:
For a season/possible-series finale, it's pretty grounded compared to other season enders, with minimal use of the supporting cast and not much of a resolution for anyone's attempts at a degree. I assume it was for budgetary reasons that the regular co-stars don't appear in an episode about saving Greendale, but it's still kind of a bummer - Magnitude should have been around to offer up a "Pop, pop!" during the celebration, instead of a bunch of random anonymous extras.

Laurel Brown, zap2it:
"Community" Season 5 has nothing to lose and everything to gain in its finale, "Basic Sandwich." That's probably why the episode essentially dares NBC not to renew it for a sixth season (and a movie).

Untempered Television:
If you’re a sucker for Abed’s meta commentary, “Basic Sandwich” was essentially Mecca and I happen to be such a sucker so his musings threading through the entire half hour were just so perfect that the lack of any sort of meaningful depth was easily forgiven.

Nick O'Malley,
Somewhat lost in the dense fog of the meta-commentary of the episode is the fact that "Basic Sandwich" was really funny. Starting off with a good comedic lead-in with the "buried treasure" bit, the writers clearly had a good bit of fun with having the characters pull off a cartoonish "Scooby-Doo"-esque caper in the bowels of Greendale.

Lauren Stern, Pop Break:
The last review I wrote for this series was the Dungeons and Dragons episode, which was classic Community just by the theme alone. I’m happy that I got the opportunity to review this season’s finale, as it was classic in that it one of the most meta Community episode ever produced.

Jennifer Marie, Just About Write:
I expected more from this season because of Harmon’s return. I expected a central theme that progressed the characters. I expected them to learn and to evolve, not to merely circle around the same themes and plots from years past like a hamster on a wheel or a person on a gym treadmill. So if “Basic Sandwich” is the series finale of Community… what did I think of it, exactly? I thought it was a decent farewell to an okay season but that it was – when it boiled down to it – reminiscent of a hamster on a wheel.

As always, thanks for reading, not just this week but throughout the season. See you next October 20, whenever it happens!

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.
Jeff and Shirley

Review roundup for episode 5x12, "Basic Story"

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,
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,
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.
community, tv

Review roundup for episode 5x11, "G.I. Jeff"

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,
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,
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,
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!
funny: i don't understand you britta!

Community At The Movies [Community, #RenewCommunity2014 Campaign]

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