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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!" 



Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 4/17/2014

Season 5 : Episode 13

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