Best of the Best: Community

Cast of Community

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It’s easy to hand out titles like “best show on television,” but a title is just a meaningless collection of words unless you can back it up with some evidence. In Best of the Best we pick the five best episodes of the finest shows on television to give you an example of what makes them so special.

If you were within earshot of a Community fan when the show was put on hiatus by NBC, then you’ve probably already heard about how creative, original and streets ahead this comedy is. Community is a TV show about TV shows for TV fanatics like us.

Contemporary American Poultry

Community Contemporary American Poultry

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“As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be in a Mafia movie.” – Abed

In an effort to keep his friends flush with chicken fingers, Abed gets a job at the school cafeteria. It’s not long before Abed’s kickbacks to his friends spiral into an underground chicken finger racket in the style of Goodfellas. Underneath all this lampooning is a great character story about what happens to the group when someone other than Jeff is calling the shots.  

Cooperative Calligraphy

Community Cooperative Calligraphy

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“Accidents don’t just happen over and over and over again, this isn’t budget daycare.” – Annie

Annie’s pen goes missing and it turns into one of the most frantic witch hunts ever televised. With nowhere to go and nobody else to accuse but one another, this character driven episode shows the characters getting raw and naked—literally. The episode ends with the gang forgetting about the pen and the audience finding out that Troy’s monkey was the culprit all along.

Advanced Dungeons and Dragons

Community Advanced Dungeons and Dragons

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“This is why I wanted to play Chutes and Ladders.” – Troy

The gang plays a game of Dungeons and Dragons with a suicidal classmate in order to cheer him up, but Pierce crashes the party to punish his friends for excluding him. What follows is an epic tale of good versus evil that takes place entirely in the viewer’s imagination. Except for that haunting image of Chang looking as stealthy as a B-2 bomber in dark elf makeup– that’s something we could never imagine.

Modern Warfare

Community Modern Warfare

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“I thought it was paint but I’m just bleeding. Talk about luck!” – Jeff

Jeff takes a nap before a game of paintball assassin and wakes up to find himself in a warzone covered in paint. This episode had the monumental feat of riffing on every action movie under the sun, while also breaking the will-they, won’t-they tension between Britta and Jeff by having them hook up.

Advanced Chaos Theory

“This is the darkest timeline.” – Abed

Only Community could deliver seven different alternate timelines in one episode. With the simple roll of a die, we get to see what Troy and Abed’s housewarming party would be like under different circumstances. Some of the results are grim, while others hint at things to come—but the final result is driven by choice, not fate, and ends with a happy gathering of friends.

The Voice Returns, Scores A Touchdown With Me

christina aguilera blake shelton adam levine cee lo green the voice performance

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For weeks, some of us have breathlessly anticipated the kickoff of the major competition that aired last night. Wait, football who? No, I’m not talking about the Super Bowl. After that. That’s right. The Voice is back!

I’m not going to lie; I used to watch American Idol. I love music, and I’m a sucker for any kind of competition. But I always skipped the mean-spirited auditions, and by the time I started watching, I didn’t have a clue who anyone was, so I couldn’t get invested.

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If You Change the Name of the The Munsters Remake, Can You Still Call It a Remake?

The Munster Family from The Munsters

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I have to admit, I’ve been a little excited about the upcoming remake of The Munsters for NBC. I’m a big fan of creator Bryan Fuller, who is known for his quirky, yet brilliant TV shows about the secret lives of grim reapers and piemakers who can bring back the dead. He’s joined by producer Bryan Singer, best known for his work on the X-Men movies. If there were anybody in Hollywood who could tell believable, compelling and hilarious stories about a Frankenstein and a vampire with a werewolf for a son, it’s these two guys.

The Munsters Family Portrait

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Well now all that’s about to change with the recent announcement that the project will no longer be title The Munsters and will instead be called Mockingbird Lane. The name change is due to the fact that the show was deemed to dark and spooky to be associated with the Munsters brand name. The creators wanted to convey the feeling that the new show is only loosely inspired by the 60’s sitcom so that fans of the original aren’t put off by this darker update.

This title change of course raises the question of whether or not the show can legitimately be called a remake of The Munsters anymore. Sure the Munster clan had a home on Mockingbird Lane in the original series, but that’s a pretty small detail that most people aren’t going to remember.

The Munsters Producer Bryan Fuller

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Something smells fishy and it’s not one of Grandpa’s potions either. All of the projects that Bryan Fuller is known for have been of his own creation, but they’re also the kind of TV shows that are cancelled before their time. I have to wonder if Bryan Fuller didn’t just pitch a monster family show to NBC and that executive meddling turned it into a Munsters remake. Having the name of a pre-existing franchise attached could just be a ploy to attract viewers, kind of like the way that the Air Force uses commercials that look like video games to attract recruits.

If that’s the case, this name change could mean a few different things for the Munsters remake. This could be a sign of good faith from NBC who may feel that the show can stand out on its own without being attached to a franchise name. It could also mean that they see the potential for a new franchise and don’t want it bogged down by audiences’ pre-conceived impressions of The Munsters. Or it could mean the opposite—that the show is too weird and the network wants to save the Munsters brand name for future use.

Whatever the reason for the name change, it’s a clear indicator that the show we’ll be watching next fall will be a far cry from Munster family we know and love. However, I have faith in the creative talent involved and no matter what show we get, it’s going to make for imaginative and fun television.

Fictional TV Awards We Think We Have a Shot at Winning

The Office Dundies Statues

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Television actors and actresses are awarded with a number of accolades each year, from the prestigious Emmy Awards to the slime-covered Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards. For all the praise we heap onto television actors, the characters that they portray rarely get the recognition they deserve.

So when a TV character does receive an honor, it’s a triumphant occasion worthy of an outrageous award that could only exist in TV land. However, if these TV awards were real, we think we’d have a really good chance of winning one of them—if not all of them.

The Dundies – The Office

The Office Michael Scott Dundie

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The Dundies aren’t just your run-of-the-mill office awards, they are a extravagant event emceed by uber-boss Michael Scott. There are jokes, music, an excessive amount of drinking and then there’s the prize–a glorious golden statuette known as a Dundie. Each Dundie is unique to the person who wins it, with categories that include “Cutest Redhead in the Office Award,” “Show Me the Money Award” and “Spicy Curry Award.”

Sure, everybody in the office gets a Dundie, so it’s not exactly hard to win one—the real trick is winning a good Dundie and not something slightly offensive. It’d be really easy to win the “Whitest Sneakers Award”, but also really easy to accidentally win the “Don’t Go In There After Me Award” too. Our safest bet? The “Fine Work Award.” You really just need to show up to work to win it.

 

The Shiva – The League

The League Mark with The Shiva

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Some fantasy football leagues play for money, others play for fun—but the league from The League play for a much more sacred award—the legendary Shiva. Named after the guys’ sexy high school classmate Shivakamini Somakandarkram, the Shiva is a sacred shrine adorned with items swiped from the real Shiva.

Even if we’d rather watch the Puppy Bowl than the Super Bowl, we still think the Shiva could be within our grasp—afterall, Taco has come close before and he doesn’t even try to play right. Winning the Shiva takes the ability to backstab, to psych out your opponents and to cheat if necessary. All we have to do is turn off our natural instinct for empathy and the Shiva will fall into our laps.

Most – 30 Rock

30 Rock Jack Donaghy Voted Most

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NBC executive Jack Donaghy is an accomplished man with nearly superhuman qualities—so when he graduated from Harvard Business School, his classmates voted him “Most.” Forget “Best Hair” or “Most Likely to Succeed,” this is the senior class award we wish we could win the most.

Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy

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It wouldn’t be easy to achieve such an extreme level of excellence, but Jack worked his way up to the top of the food chain from a childhood of impoverishment. Who’s to say we couldn’t do the same? Granted we’d need his charm, his wit and Alec Baldwin’s good looks—but anything is possible if you pull yourself up by your bootstraps and psych yourself up in the mirror using advertising slogans.

Fear Factor Stunts We’d Like To See

Joe Rogan Fear Factor ExplosionAfter the unprecedented success of Survivor at the turn of the millennium, it seems like every network jumped onto the reality TV bandwagon. Many of them blurred together, but one standout was NBC’s Fear Factor. While the majority of the new reality glut seemed to focus on romance (The Bachelor, married by America, Joe Millionaire, Temptation Island), Fear Factor was the anti-sexy new show in town. Unless watching people eating bugs was your idea of a hot date, that is.

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Why is House Being Mean to Me?

Dr. Gregory House Logo

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Once upon a time, Gregory House was a lovable, eccentric genius. Maybe he didn’t always follow the rules, but he got the job done. He was brash, sure. Sometimes he was downright ornery, but he was never just 100% mean: until now. These days I can barely stand to watch as he berates his lackluster costars, wallows in his tiresome self-pity and barely gives a second thought to the dying patients under his care. These days, House is a real a-hole.

House being a jerk

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An abusive father, busted up leg, and Vicodin addiction twanged my heartstrings aplenty in seasons 1-5. Constant pain can really humanize a character, and when that character also happens to be a handsome medical mastermind who saves lives, well, he can really get away with a lot of nastiness. But every mean-spirited action had to be counterbalanced with an adequately sympathetic moment of remorse, or at least some decent self-destructive alone time. Like when he almost drank himself to death and was saved by Wilson at the last second. Or when, after convincing Cuddy and the hospital attorney to allow one baby to die in order to save another, he performs the baby autopsy himself, sparing his dispirited team the gruesome task.

In the early seasons, House’s redeeming moments often came at the bedside of a particularly difficult patient. These are moments when House’s desire to save a life seems to trump his desire to be a d*ck and are often punctuated by an insightful commentary on the nature of life and death, i.e.: “We can only live with dignity, we cannot die with it.” The trouble is, as House has become less likeable, his motivations for saving lives seem more like attempts to prove the metal of his diagnoses than to help people.

It wouldn’t take much. Just a few intense, season 1 close-ups on two tortured baby blues.

Close Up on Gregory House's Eyes

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It pains me to feel this way about House. I used to harbor a passionate love for the kooky, motorcycle-riding, sneaker-wearing, prostitute-employing, sarcasm-wielding, pill-popping, atheist doctor. I still admire the classic one-liners, the great quotes that continue to pop up on Facebook every five seconds. For example, “I only became a doctor because of the movie Patch Adams.” Or, “Where would junior high be without our ability to judge people on aesthetics?”

House quote about religion

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A significant part of the problem I’m having is that I’ve also lost interest in House’s diagnostic team. Ever since Cuddy left, Princeton-Plainsboro has seemed more like Plainston-Lamesboro. Park is cute and quirky but Adams is the flattest, most vapid excuse for a diagnostician since, well, since ever. She sucks. I never thought I’d say it, but Chase is now my favorite character. I used to love Wilson but now he’s just a sad sack oncologist with no fight left in him. Foreman’s predictable haughtiness is so boring it hurts.

House Season 8 Cast Promotional Image

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I can’t say I’ll stop watching House. I still find some slim satisfaction in the formula: case that doesn’t respond to treatment, patient gets worse as House does a variety of annoying prankish stuff, team scurries around blabbing about what House might be up to, everybody lies or something, House comes up with diagnosis while bouncing a ball on his cane.

Gregory House's tennis ball

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TV Boyfriends: Ron Swanson

Ron Swanson Parks And Recreation

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I love a lot of things. My husband and daughter. My cats. The ironic dance grooves of Cobra Starship. But most of all, I love bacon. And through this love, I discovered my love of Ron Swanson.

I was late to get into Parks and Recreation. It failed to grab me in its first season, and I never went back to give it another shot, even though people whose opinions I value continued to sing its praises. But my husband watched it, and after several weeks of it being on in the background, I began to fall for my fictional, mustached, libertarian paramour. Here are just a few reasons that Ron Swanson is my TV boyfriend:

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NBC is Determined to Make America Laugh

NBC network logo

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Clearly noting the wide dearth of comedy shows currently airing in in the United States, NBC bravely set out on January 23rd to rectify the situation for the good of us all. It went on what most of us would call a “shopping spree” if that “spree” consisted of television pilots instead of bulk quantities of EZ Mac. Continue reading

Snap Judgment: Smash

Smash Cast NBC

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Since my daughter was born, I have a limited amount of my time to indulge in my passion for watching television. I used to watch every new show that remotely interested me, and even if the first episode didn’t grab me (or the second, or third) I would stick with it until it went off the air (or until something better showed up in the same time slot). Nowadays, a show has one chance to grab me or else it’s curtains.  As networks start to roll out their midseason replacement shows, I’ll be making snap judgments.

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With The Firm Certain to Be Cancelled, Which Other Films from 1993 Should Become TV Shows?

Cast of NBC's The Firm

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Last Thursday, NBC took a nosedive in the ratings when The Firm aired at 10:00 PM. The measly 0.9 rating put the network in 8th place, behind a rerun of The Big Bang Theory on TBS. Although the network has nothing in the pipeline to replace the sluggish show anytime soon, it has no chances for a second season.

This might come as a disappointment to John Grisham fans who had waited patiently for nearly 20 years for a sequel to the 1993 thriller of the same name. Although some critics were quick to point out that the long period of time between the movie and the television series might have been one of the causes for the show’s demise, we don’t think that’s the case. After all, we can think of several movies that premiered in 1993 that could easily be adapted into a television program.

Groundhog Day

Bill Murray Groundhog Day

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Sure, the concept of reliving the same day over and over has been explored in TV before, but never with the same success as this Bill Murray movie from 1993. Get another respected comedian to play TV weatherman Phil Connors and set up each episode as a repeat of the same day. To keep things interesting, Phil would help out a new resident of Punxsutawney each day, while trying to win over the love of his life.

Hocus Pocus

Hocus Pocus Sanderson Sisters

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This family-friendly comedy is a favorite around Halloween and has just the right amount of thrills and chills to make for great family TV. The Sanderson Sisters, the movie’s trio of bumbling witches, would make great villains, but even better anti-heroes who must begrudgingly help out the people of Salem to make good on their past evil deeds. Think a kid-friendly Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a dash of Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park 1993 Movie

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Okay, Terra Nova jokes aside, this dinosaur thriller hasn’t been a viable franchise in awhile, despite the first movie being an instant classic. No need to bring in any of the film’s leading characters—just drop a new batch of scientists into the carnage and watch the drama unfold.

Robin Hood: Men in Tights

Cast of Robin Hood Men in Tights

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This Mel Brooks farce based on the classic stories of Sherwood Forest would make a great addition to Comedy Central or FX’s lineup. Here’s a great opportunity to do a Game of Thrones style show with a Community sense of humor. Plus, it’d give Dave Chappelle an excuse to come back to TV.

The Pelican Brief

John Grisham's The Pelican Brief

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Well, if one John Grisham novel-turned-movie from 1993 doesn’t succeed as a television show, you can always try the other one. The Pelican Brief  was a legal thriller about a law student who uncovers an assassination conspiracy tied to a wealthy oil tycoon. With its environmental themes and thrill-a-minute assassination schemes, The Pelican Brief might be a better fit for TV.