Community "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics" Review: Butts Butts Butts (and DEATH!)

By Tim Surette

Jan 10, 2014

Community S05E03: "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics"

It's nice to know that Community isn't afraid to go high-concept so early in Season 5 after the first two episodes delicately reestablished Dan Harmon's return with safer episodes to get the series back on track. It's also nice that the human body's greatest source of humor—the derriere, the rump, the booty, the tuckus, the posterior, the badonkadonk, the caboose, the BUTT—got its time in the sun. "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics" was a VERY funny episode of Community, and what more can you ask for?

I'd love to leave this review at "This episode was really funny" and call it a day and get on with the rest of my work, butt but this is Community, and we tend to ask for a lot from this show. And because Community is a very different kind of television show, we often have no choice butt but to compare it to itself. In that sense, "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics" was a pretty good Community spoof, butt but it lacked a character story to anchor it to the rest of the season, in contrast to other Community parody episodes like "Pillows & Blankets," "Critical Film Studies," and "Contemporary American Poultry." Don't get me wrong, I loved the episode and I wish I could British high-five it, butt but it's my job to raise discussion points, and that's what I'm trying to do here. 


Jeff and Annie were at the center of this episode, which took shots at a whole genre rather than a specific film. Serial-killer and crime dramas from both film and television were put through the Greendale wringer, with specific jabs at David Fincher's Zodiac, Seven, and even The Social Network (Shirley's kids acapella'ing Radiohead's "Creep" stood out). Butt but if Abed's DVR was any indication, The Bridge and Hannibal were in Community's sights, too. And because there was rain, why not include The Killing as well? Basically any show or movie or book or tweet about people chasing down a killer, specifically those with a sexually tense male-female detective duo, was fair game here, and you know what? GOOD. That genre has overstayed its welcome and oversaturated our lives to the point of exhaustion. (Except maybe Hannibal, that show is rad.) And "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics"—while I wish the writers had gone with an easier-to-type title like "Intro to Butt Banking"—pointed out all their cliches and mocked their style.

Butt but I'm wondering how the Jeff-and-Annie thing played out in this. As the episode made a point of emphasizing, those two do occasionally run off together and make eyes at each other. It's natural—as it should be when they both look like like they do—butt but Community has always struggled with romance within the group. One of Community's greatest strengths is its sense of friendship and the struggles that come with maintaining relationships, and while obvious sexual tension between two characters is good for a laugh—Jeff and Britta is still the best example of this because of all the permutations—it never really works when it feels forced, *ahem Troy and Britta*. And in this episode, Jeff and Annie felt forced. The best relationship on this show is clearly between Troy and Abed, and unless there's something going on in those bunks that I don't know about, it's strictly platonic and takes advantage of Community's keen sense of innocence.


There was also a sudden bombshell dropped on us: Pierce is DEAD. It kind of came out of nowhere, butt but because Season 5 is only 13 episodes long, it's all part of condensing things. Pierce's death is also instrumental in one of the character's arcs coming up, so in retrospect, I think you'll find it works. Butt but oh my god they killed Pierce! Those bastards!

As a whole, "Intro to Butt Banking" was one of Community's funniest outings. The jokes were outstanding (especially the ones about butts, teehee), and they were amplified by the overall spoofiness of the episode. There were also so many little hilarious details that are just waiting to be discovered in second, third, and fiftieth viewings, like all the sub-headlines in the newspaper-y intro, or the various props hanging on the walls of Greendale's halls and Duncan's office. This goth-y "I Am Greendale" flyer was one of my favorites: 


Butt but most of all I respect the effort that goes into these concept episodes. Just think about how much work goes into completely changing the directing style, camera filters, title sequences, and everything else to make these episode pop (pop). I'm in awe. The crew behind Community clearly knows that it takes everyone giving it their all to pull off these dramatic transformations, and they do it because they too know the show is special. Outstanding stuff, and there should be no doubt left in anyone's mind that Community has returned to its best form in Season 5 with Butt Harmon back.



STUDY NOTES

– If I really wanted to be a jerk, I'd say there was a little polish left off the Ass-Crack Bandit story, since it was left incomplete. Butt but that would be silly, because that's a direct knock on the genre the episode was spoofing, the ol' "HE'S STILL OUT THERE!!!" ending after we thought the culprit had been apprehended.

– This kind of felt like the spiritual successor to Community's Law & Order spoof "Basic Lupine Urology," didn't it? And next week's episode, "Cooperative Polygraphy," is a spiritual successor to the outstanding "Cooperative Calligraphy," the bottle episode about Annie's pen.

– Honestly, there were way too many funny parts to list here, butt but "What are you gonna do, not have butts?" might be the best and deserves a shout-out. 

– Abed as Will Graham/Poppy Montgomery's character from Unforgettable checking out a crime scene: "I see a man... using a social disorder as a procedural device. Wait, wait, wait, I see another man. Mildly autistic superdetectives everywhere... basic cable, broadcast networks... pain, PAINful writing. It hurts." YES. And YES again.

– Reverse Chang. Holy shit. What?

– Excellent framing here:

– Geez, AND Dave Matthews? So much awesomeness in this episode. And Duncan saying he met the entire band except Dave was great.

– If any member of the group was suited to become a victim of the Ass-Crack Bandit, it was Troy. He was so good under those blankets.

– Like most heterosexual males, I really wish Annie had reached down for those keys. Butt but what she did instead was really, really funny.

– We've got a real dilemma here. What is Garrett's catchphrase now? "ASS-CRACK BANDIT!" Or is it "CRISIS ALERT!"? I think I'm sticking with "Crisis Alert."

– How do I get the "Ass-Crack Bandit" song on my iTunes? Maybe Ben Folds, who wrote it (and also guest-starred as the botany professor who "bolted," yuk yuk yuk) will release it as a single? In the meantime, I've transcribed the lyrics for your convenience: "It said quarter to five, but it was quarter to ass, you thought your plumbing was safe, but your jeans were half-mast. Another coin down the drain, now that's some change that won't last." And the second part! "25 cents at a time, he's taking our souls. Government men can't help, we're all alone. Are you feeling a breeze, did you pull your belt tight? You know that it's wrong, you know that it's right. [CHORUS] Out of the shadows, down the coin goes. Why oh why, do you suppose? Only the bandit knows. WHOA-OH-OH-OH, WHOA-OH-OH-OH! A-S-S-C-R-A-C-K Bandit! WHOA-OH-OH-OH, WHOA-OH-OH-OH! A-S-S-C-R-A-C-K Bandit!" 



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  • alcalde Mar 14, 2014

    &That; genre has overstayed its welcome and oversaturated our lives to the
    &point; of exhaustion.

    Actually I've never seen a single one of the shows or movies you mention in that paragraph. :-) Don't know anything about Dave Matthews either, so this stuff hasn't oversaturated my life and the spoofing really didn't do much for me.

    I believe the "Pierce is dead" line is a callback to the very episode you mentioned, "Basic Lupine Urology". In that crime parody episode we got the sudden reveal that "Starburns is dead". In this crime parody episode it's revealed to the group that Starburns is alive and then we get the "Pierce is dead" shocker.


  • numberonecubsfa Jan 18, 2014

    "As a whole, "Intro to Butt Banking" was one of Community's funniest outings."

    I'm baffled by this opinion. Truly. The Law and Order spoof worked well because they were lambasting a very specific show with very specific tropes that extended beyond it. This one didn't have a specific target in mind. Poking at general tropes, getting all serious with an utterly ridiculous mystery....but there was no character humor, no central hook, no reason to give a crap. However good they were with the gritty shooting and style, the content didn't work. I didn't laugh, I didn't smile even as I got the overall joke they were going for. It was objectively one of the worst episodes of the whole show. And you call it one of the funniest.

    But then, you were the same one trashing on some of the few good episodes from last season, so I'm not surprised at this point.

  • alcalde Mar 14, 2014

    I just watched the episode and I'm with you... it was just "meh" and just seemed like it stitched together an almost random set of spoofs and gags with no payoff at the end either. I only laughed once thanks to Dean Pelton and the scene in which they get a phone call from the Bandit.

  • alejandroseq Jan 15, 2014

    great episode Tim! love it, but the way they kill off Pierce is weird! all of the sudden, i think they want to make us believe he's dead so they can surprise us maybe by the last episode of the season or something like that

    i mean, he appeared on the second episode of the season, nice cameo and on the next episode he's dead, i'm not buying it

  • Ridnarhtim Jan 13, 2014

    I honestly didn't really like this one. I just spent the entire time thinking "this is really weird. In a stupid way." Occasional laughs, mostly at Chang.

    However, Duncan AND Starburns! Hooray!

  • pink021 Jan 13, 2014

  • Zelli42 Jan 11, 2014

    So I can't help but think you are a little bit biased here regarding Dan Harmon. IMO we had some good episodes in season 4 and this one wasn't all that.
    They did the exact same mistakes they highlighted in the seasons beginning(about just having superficial characters). And they offered a lot of possible funny and human moments to keep up their really not so funny parody of the genre. I found this episode rather boring. Dunkin came to the save though.
    Maybe I just can't see the butt humor as that funny. Sure it was good in the beginning, but focusing a whole episode on that(not to speak how incredibly low the stakes were here...I know that is supposed to be funny, but why would I care? If they pulled the prank on Jeff and not on Troy, kind of like a personal back story maybe it would have worked better.)

  • Zelli42 Jan 11, 2014

    *offed

  • Mantis82 Jan 11, 2014

    Watched the episode again, I missed the "Fountain Pooper caught" in the opening credits when Annie is going through her newspaper clippings. hilarious


  • Rolamb Jan 11, 2014

    After watching the first minute and seeeing it was so blueish, I download the episode again (still legal here in Holland), only to find out it was part of the set-up. Loved it when I realised how it was used.

  • Savvytvfan91 Jan 11, 2014

    This was amazing!!!!!

  • pebermynthe Jan 11, 2014

    I agree with all the gushing, so I'll just say one thing that brought me joy - Professor Duncan is back!!! I am so on board with John Oliver being in season 5, as a more constant fixture! DANGER!!!

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