Community Scatters Its Remains

By Tim Surette

May 04, 2012

Community S02E18: "Course Listing Unavailable"

Last night's episode of Community was a mismatched hodgepodge of funeral services, riots, callbacks to a darker timeline, Dean impersonators, martial law, concerns over the health of Troy's pen pal, stick-on Starburns sideburns, punitive school boards, and Garret singing "Ave Maria." The episode's title, "Course Listing Unavailable," was an apt name for an episode that had about as much focus as Britta's cross-eyed cat, as random things just sorta happened throughout the half-hour. But you know what? It was still hilarious.

This was Community's latest attempt at serialized comedy, and the episode's goals were to bring Chang to power and get the gang expelled. Both of those objectives were accomplished. But the show plowed through a bizarre cornfield to get there. After dealing with their grief by submitting to the help of unlicensed psycho-nut Britta, the gang found out Professor Kane had resigned, therefore nullifying their biology class and forcing them to attend summer school. The gang then showed up at Starburns' wake full of rage and incited a student riot, which led to their expulsion while Chang took over the school with an army of mini-police. Wait, what?

Why did Kane resign because of Starburns? Why would a class just end because a teacher resigns? Why will the study group be forced to go to summer school? Why did the gang use Starburns' service to incite mayhem? How can an episode like "Course Listing Unavailable" simply end with that cutesy music playing and everyone handing out flirty looks and a fluffy consensus of "as long as we all have each other"?

Whereas Starburns' remains should have been what was scattered last night, it was actually a bunch of Community leftovers that got sprinkled about. Chang's ascent to security dictator took its next step. Subway got involved. Shirley expressed her continued anger over not getting her sandwich shop. And the coup de gras of this coup de Greendale? The magnificent callback to "Remedial Chaos Theory," the darkest timeline, and that weird pizza delivery guy. It didn't totally work and felt a bit squeezed-in-there, but this episode was less about making things work than making things funny and providing treats for fans.

"Course Listing Unavailable" pushed Community from Point A to Point B with no regard for what was in between or care for the physics of common sense. But again... who cares!? It was hilarious! There was no time to realize that little of it made sense because Leonard was raiding the Subway sandwich bar (except for onions and olives). Or Pierce was digging into Starburns' ashes looking for his comb. Or Dean was finally starting to understand why Alex was known as "Starburns."

Community is known for its high concepts, parodies, and fourth-wall destruction, but it's also one of the most delightfully silly sitcoms out there. "Course Listing Unavailable" was as silly—and funny—as it gets. I loved this episode even though I realize how flawed it was. But I laughed my ass off and right now that's all I care about.

Study Group Notes

– The Starburns tribute video may be the coolest thing ever. I kind of want to die just so I can force my friends to make one for me.

Jim Rash! Can I have your babies or something? He's so damn funny as Dean Pelton. Can we get him an Emmy to put on the mantle next to his Oscar?

– How long do you think the group will be kicked out of school? I'm kind of really digging this turn of events!

Follow writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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  • El-Isa May 09, 2012

    R.I.P. Starburn

    We will always remember you as a man, who for all we know, was a Holocoust denying 9/11 pedophile

  • Loooooooooooost May 07, 2012

    Has anybody mentioned this line as said by Jeff, "You seemed smarter to me when I first meet you." That is what I was thinking the other day! I love Britta, and even though even she herself says she's the worst, she is most certainly the Best. "Why did you always poop with the stall door open?" And Shirley had a drink, do you think that would lead to more drinks for her later? Oooh man, dark timeline fooor sure.

  • TadHamilton1 May 11, 2012

    She never drank it tho, as she was about to Troy saved to moment and everyone reached the final stage of coping with sorrow; Acceptance. I think only Annie and Jeff had a drink from the looks of it :)

  • praeda May 08, 2012

    the fact that she's "the worst" is what makes her the best!

  • klod008 May 06, 2012

    Why do they have to go to summer school? They will not have to go to summer school, they were expelled. Or, its a nice excuse to make a couple of webisodes during the summer, it the series is not cancelled.

  • TadHamilton1 May 06, 2012

    Summer school was on before they were expelled, i can only asume that they wont be allowed in to summer school before they get back in to greendale!

  • SokkaAppa May 06, 2012

    really weird episode... but i really liked it! Glad they didn't kill of pierce though.

  • FlorBlyth May 05, 2012

    Loved the episode!

    To all hardcore Community watchers, I realized that Jeff is the only one of the study group, of whom I know a little background, specifically, that he ended up in CC because he lied about his degree; so, can anyone fill me in about the rest of the guys? how did Anie or Troy ended up there? what about the rest of them?

  • Shikady May 06, 2012

    Annie got into problem with drugs and dropped out of college and went ro rehab, Troy got injured ( on purpose I believe ) and lost his scholarship, Britta I believe she dropped out in order to impress...Radiohead? I don't know something like that lol. Abed started CC to take Business Classes at his father request, Shirley did the same but because she wanted to make her business successful. And Pierce I don't know...

  • FlorBlyth May 07, 2012

    Thnx Shikady & thorthorsen!!

    Appreciate it :D

  • thorthorsen May 06, 2012

    Pierce just hangs out at the Community college for 13 years because he has nothing better to do, and atleast this way he can have some interaction with other people.

  • Slash_out May 05, 2012

    The memorial video for Starburns as the best "badly done fake on purpose" video EVER :).

    I can't stop re watching it.

  • Pantalonz May 05, 2012

    I'm guessing that the teacher had something to do with the meth lab. He was the science (biology) teacher and ex-con and all the equipment was "stolen" from his class. I suspect that he will be back one day:)

  • TadHamilton1 May 06, 2012

    Watch the episode before this one and you'll see how Starburns got the key to the room. :)

  • Jacks420 May 05, 2012

    I'm starting to worry a little about Pierce's sanity. From drinking ink out of pens to thinking it's the 90s then believing he's been at Greendale for 13 years, Pierce seems to be losing it this season. I kind of want to rewatch the season for more signs now.

  • TadHamilton1 May 05, 2012

    He said at the very end of season two "You know that i've been coming to this school for 12 years, and have never been friends with anyone for more than a semester...", So the fact that he said 13 years acctually makes him a bit more sane. :P

  • Jacks420 May 06, 2012

    Oh, I guess I missed that one. haha

  • platoonist May 05, 2012

    Jeff to Britta - "You seem smarter than me when I met you"

  • KingsX May 05, 2012


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