In the history of television sitcoms, the NBC sitcom Community occupies a fairly unique space. So much of it may be among the finest comedy ever produced, while the rest…well, as fans would say, sometimes they really Britta’d it.
If you’ve decided to selectively binge, we’re going to make it easy to determine what to skip: here are the episodes of Community so bad we think they might have come from the darkest timeline.
G.I. Jeff (Season 5, Episode 11)
As huge G.I. Joe and Community fans, it hurt our hearts to put “G.I. Jeff” on the list. And this partially-animated crossover is the only episode outside of “the gas leak year” (famously the only year Dan Harmon wasn’t showrunner) on here.
However, while the episode gets all the “G.I.” stuff great through pitch-perfect parodies of G.I. Joe characters and shoddy animation, it really drops the ball on the “Jeff” part.
The idea of Jeff having a kind of midlife crisis because he turned 40 seemed severely out of character, and his ending up in the hospital after taking “anti-aging” pills just makes him seem like a complete idiot.
Intro To Knots (Season 4, Episode 10)
If Community had not had any previous holiday episodes, then “Intro to Knots” probably wouldn’t be considered one of its worst eps. But rather than reaching the heights of previous holiday adventures (like the excellent stop-motion episode “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas”), this episode just focuses on the characters hanging at Jeff’s apartment. They are trying to connive their professor into giving them a higher grade.
Sure, getting more of a look into Annie’s Type A personality is always fun, as is the cameo from Malcolm McDowell, but the main story feels like a B plot that would have been ditched by the writing team of previous seasons.
Conventions of Space and Time (Season 4, Episode 3)
How much you enjoy “Conventions of Space and Time” depends on two things: how much you like the obsessive character of Abed and how often you attend your local Comic Con-style events.
The episode revolves around Troy and Abed attending InSpecTiCon, a convention devoted to Inspector Spacetime (an obvious Community stand-in for Doctor Who).
While the jokes about conventions and conventiongoers are funny, the primary plot about Abed’s new friend trying to steal him from Troy falls severely flat. And Annie roleplaying that she is Jeff’s wife in a hotel room just made us sad for what a weird caricature she had become.
Intro To Felt Surrogacy (Season 4 Episode 9)
On its best days, Community excelled at developing excellent themed episodes that were peppered with tightly-crafted writing and surprising plot beats.
Unfortunately, “Intro to Felt Surrogacy” is proof that one out of three is bad: while it’s funny to have a puppet episode, and while we loved see our favorite characters Muppetified, the boring story felt like the writers just threw several previously-abandoned ideas into a blender and called it a day.
That would have been bad, lazing writing in any circumstance, but we’re particularly bummed out how much this episode wasted a cameo from veteran Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander.
Alternative History Of The German Invasion (Season 4 Episode 4)
On paper, the Community episode “Alternative History of The German Invasion” should have been a winner. The concept of our familiar study group having to square off against Germans who have effectively taken over the study room sounds pretty fun.
But the stereotypes of the German students are both lazy and unfunny, and the goofy return of Chang after he became the Big Bad of the third season was laughable in all the wrong ways.
Depending on your sense of humor, probably the funniest thing about this episode is the revelation that so many Greendale students hate the “beloved” study group due to the fallout of their previous antics.
Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations (Season 4, Episode 5)
The Community episode “Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations” makes two related mistakes right away. It separates the study group into two separate stories, and it makes each of them almost offensively bad.
The B plot about Shirley taking everyone but Jeff and Britta to Thanksgiving dinner where they engage in a Shawshank-style prison break made us think of the movie in all the wrong ways. As an audience, we certainly crawled through a river of s***, but we didn’t come out clean on the other side.
And while James Brolin tries his best, the A plot about Britta accompanying Jeff to finally meet his estranged father effectively wasted years of building tension on a wet fart of an episode. Of all the eps effectively retconned as never really having happened, we were happiest to see this one go.
Economics of Marine Biology (Season 4, Episode 7)
“Economics of Marine Biology” is another Community episode that probably sounded like a great idea in the writer’s room. In order to lure a wealthy student to Greendale, the Dean recruits the study group to do anything necessary to make the campus seem cool.
And to their credit, the B and C plots gave us some fun, unconventional pairings, and we enjoyed seeing Troy bond with Shirley and especially seeing Jeff bond with Pierce.
But the A plot just flounders, even with fun concepts like Abed trying to create a fake fraternity modeled after some of his favorite college party movies. None of our characters have an arc, and they aren’t really even the focus.
That honor belongs to the new student, who ends up being just as boring as he is wealthy. Whereas other terrible episodes of Community take a big swing and miss, this tepid bunt of an episode somehow ends up being the worst (that’s right, Britta, you’re finally off the hook).