Community Review: Crack is Wack

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Community has always been a show that demands a lot from its viewers:

Constant attention to detail; indulgence of the occasional conceptual over-reach in its writing; the ability to pretend to be invested in Shirley's relationship with Andre.

Investigating the Coin Drop

But all of that hard work becomes a faint memory when Community really gets cooking. And since Community Season 1, the show has often gotten its cooking-est during genre parody episodes.

Though parody episodes have been a TV staple for longer than anyone reading this has probably been alive, no one executes them with the fervor and all-around excellence of Community.

Those same qualities that sometimes work against the show - that obsession with detail, that willingness to reach conceptually far beyond where any sane TV writer would go - pay off wildly during these kinds of installments.

Community's tiny zombie movies or Western epics or Christmas specials that aren't just satisfying as comedy... they harvest the genuine pleasures of those genres as well, working them into the episode's DNA, leaving us with half hours that aren't just knowing parodies, but loving tributes.

That Christmas episode (Community Season 2 Episode 11) was genuinely heart-warming; those Western episodes (Community Season 2 Episode 23 and Community Season 2 Episode 24) really do draw you into their high(ish) stakes.

And in addition to all its other marks of excellence, Community Season 5 Episode 3 had me genuinely invested in its mystery. Yes, I'm a bit biased (in addition to being a Community die-hard, I also love crime procedurals and think butts are quite hilarious) - but even if you are not a butt-lover or a Numb3rs apologist, this half-hour was so perfectly constructed that it was nearly impossible to not get wrapped up.

The music cues! The lighting! That blue filter, for the love of god, THAT BLUE FILTER!

The genius of the  full-tilt Community parody episode - not the off-hand reference to "Pulp Fiction" or "Good Will Hunting," but the fully-committed, full-episode parody - is the way it uses something absurd as its subject matter to make a larger point about why we watch genre TV and film.

We don't watch episodes of our favorite crime procedurals because we're invested in the individual crimes; we watch them because the pleasures of the genre structure are so great, they can still exist even when the crime is butt-based.

Of course, using an episode of a TV show to make that point is snotty, hyper-intellectual, and show-off-y, in addition to being totally true. So, in a way, genre parody episodes of Community are really Community at its Community-est.

But you don't have to be someone who desperately misses film school in order to enjoy this half hour. The Community quotes were outrageously good, almost as if the writers are showing off, having a victory lap to show that they've reclaimed their kingdom; the dialogue was beyond inspired, even if you didn't catch who the ACB was at the end.

It was Britta, right? Right??

Perhaps I am not as good at watching crime procedurals (or parodies of crime procedurals) as I thought.

What is the Best Film/ TV Genre Parody Episode of Community?


Editor Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (52 Votes)

This episode made me realize how much I'm going to miss Donald Glover when he goes. Solid episod by the way.


Here is why this episode blew my head off. I realize that making arcane references has a downside if they are too arcane and no one gets them. I got the gist of the David Fincherisms and "The Killing"- esque tones, but when the final montage played out and they showed the cafeteria worker (never seen before, shot lasted 2 seconds, she looked shifty on purpose), my HEAD BLEW OFF!!!!!!!! I am only 98.5% sure that I am correct and I haven't been able to find any corroboration, but I believe the actress playing the cafeteria worker was Sofie Grabol, the lead from the original "The Killing". It is perfectly reasonable to believe that they would find her and put her in the show for that reason. I watched the whole episode 4 more times in a row with my mouth wide open. I couldn't believe they pulled that off. I can't update wikipedia for the TV show or the actress because no one else on the planet spotted this. Can someone please confirm this?!?! PLEASE!!!!

Sarah silva

This was a funny episode. However I find myself sad knowing Troy will be gone soon.
I felt like the episode was cut short when Shirley told them Pierce died. I hope they come back to the ACB story later.
Oh an how is it possible that Joel Mchale keeps getting sexier?


Great ep!! I feel like the 'old' Community is definitely back. I wasn't so sure with the first 2 episodes. But this was vintage Harmon/McKenna. The scene where the Dean is snapping his fingers at his secretary to trace the phone call had me rolling. And, being a big Dave fan, I loved those references.


The poll is missing the Law and Order parody and the documentary one with the pillow forts


I was disappointed in this episode, but others are loving it, so I'll give it another watch. Was very happy to see Duncan back. In your vote, you left out one of my favorite parodies: Law & Order. Loved that episode.


i know it'll never happen but i wanted so bad for pierce to be the ass crack bandit. nice starting to the season but sad that glover is goona leave , i wonder how it'll be after that

Andy caldas

Looked like Red Dragón to me
Loved this episode!


LOVED this episode!! And I agree, wholeheartedly, that community is at its best when it's able to straddle that fine line between parody and tribute. There were so many things that were just perfect, starting with the opening credits. Coming into this season I was a little divided, though not for the reasons many fans were. When all is said and done, I think season 4 was pretty decent considering how stacked the deck was against it. Things were off but there were some good moments and maybe, with another season to prove its medal,it might have found its groove. As far as I can tell, Dan Harmon was kind of a giant d***,and that abbrasivness is what got him fired in the first place. He was really insulting in his critique of season 4 and I can't say it hasn't colored my opinion of him. I don't believe in rewarding bad behavior and reinstating him as executive creator is doing exactly that. All that being said, he brings a thoughtful, entertaining, lovably laughable element to the show that substitute producers just couldn't match. And while I wish he had handled is departure and subsequent reinstatement with a bit more grace, it's great to have him back.
I really like the dynamic between Jeff and Annie but I also admire community for not giving into the basic tropes of romantic tension/relationships.
I could see Brita being the culprit too.


this ep was so really shows who is the boss (dan harmon) duh.
as per joel this 13 ep all will be awesome.i m enjoying this whole ass crack bandit thing.i dont think its britta.later they showed abbot flipping a coin in his finger.and too many suspects,but i like to see acb in later eps

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Community Season 5 Episode 3 Quotes

We know that he hates money. Or loves it. Or doesn't care about money and hates butts. Or loves them.


This is the biggest PR crisis to hit Greendale since we held that rally protesting the wrong Korea.

Dean Pelton