Now this feels more like Community of yesteryear. Or, rather, last year.
Much like the stellar D&D episode, they can't really go wrong when they stick the dysfunctional seven in a room together and just let the cameras roll. Amping it up a notch with another parody only makes it that much stronger.
Even though I've felt like it has missed the mark a lot in its second season, what really keeps me tuning in week after week is the impeccable use of meta. With this episode, though, they piled the meta references onto a large, hydraulic pedestal, shone a huge LED spotlight on them before loading them into a giant circus cannon and shooting them directly through the television screen into the faces of all its roughly four million viewers.
To date, Community has parodied films, theme episodes and even claymation holiday classics. It only makes sense that Community would parody one of the age-old classic sitcom staples: the flashback episode. But they didn't stop there. They used that device as a means to make the mother of all parodies: the self-parody.
And in case you don't understand what "meta" means, Jeff Winger provided the best description of it I've heard yet when telling Abed to "stop taking everything we do and shoving it up its own ass."
The Study Group Group (hey if Cougar Town can have the Cul-De-Sac Crew…) is always finding themselves in an endless cycle of combative situations where they fight and make up, often culminating in Jeff having to make some grandiose speech pulling the group back together. To parody that in a series of mega-meta "flashbacks" made this episode one of Community's most inventive.
Particularly so when you factor in the mocking use of musical montages, which proved you can make even exchanging money in front of a vending machine look sentimental enough if you set it to a Sarah MacLachlan-type lullaby.
A tongue-in-cheek lament of the failed NBC series The Cape didn't hurt either.
The return of Annie's Boobs, the harkening back to the bottle, Claymation and Halloween episodes, and even the little frog sombrero Britta used in season one as part of a lame practical joke were all fun little memory jogs. But the best moments came from the footage of events we never saw before including the ghost town, the haunted mansion, Jeff and Troy in a haircutting class, a run in with some type of drug cartel and even the septet all lying on the floor of a room in straight jackets.
My favorite moment was showing the group filling in for the glee club doing a hilarious riff on the Fox hit series featuring Annie and Troy singing nonsense to a song that sounds eerily Journey-esque when Shirley breaks through in a Mercedes-style solo. (I kinda wish we could have seen an entire Glee-skewering episode, personally.) Though, sadly, it was a negative memory for most of the group, as they had to fill in due to the eradication of the glee club in an ill-fated bus crash. (If only a similar fate would fictitiously overtake the kids on the referent series!)
I have to throw in a shout out, too, to the montage of costumed entrances by Dean Pelton. The Catwoman and Gone With The Wind get ups were pretty hysterical, as was his animated vengeance on the Study Group Group in the epilogue.
While I didn't necessarily laugh out loud a lot, there was much to enjoy about "Paradigms of Human Memory." Anything in particular stand out for you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Jeffrey Kirkpatrick is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.