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Community S05E12: "Basic Story"


Community began its two-part journey toward *sniff* possibly saying goodbye forever by kicking of its two-part Season 5 finale with a... well, I'm not totally sure. "Basic Story" was an odd episode of Community, even by Community standards, and its effectiveness will be pretty difficult to assess until after we see its follow-up, "Basic Sandwich," next week. A lot will depend on how worthy the set-up in "Basic Story" turns out to be. But it was one of the more untraditionally funny episodes of the season, and it was full of jokes that I found hilarious even though I wouldn't be surprised if they cleared out a few rooms, so I'm giving it a high-five.

As the first part of two-parter, "Basic Story" didn't really stand on its own. Yeah, by definition the first part of a two-parter will be incomplete, but "Basic Story" didn't feel full enough to justify a two-part finale. The idea of Greendale being up for sale took some time to establish, and the discovery of Russell Borchard's treasure map—which sprung up at the very end—felt like the real goal of the episode, intended to launch next week's finale-of-the-finale. Yet I didn't care that much that the episode took its time because it was so darned funny with some great Community banterin'.


The real catalyst of "Basic Story" was a visit by an insurance appraiser (a very funny Michael McDonald of MADtv fame and Leprechaun 2 infamy) who poked around campus looking for flaws, except that the Save Greendale Committee had done such a good job that Greendale was actually deemed a place of value. The drunk school board guys—who've always been awesome and who were particularly fantastic in this episode—decided to sell the school, and there was our crisis. And it was a darned good one, particularly for a finale of a show that is possibly shuffling off to its grave. 

The school board guys ultimately sold the school to Subway, whose relationship with NBC cult shows that are perennially on the bubble continues to thrive. The idea was for Subway to transform Greendale into a Sandwich University, which I was totally sold on as soon as the library was renamed to the "Subwayary." It doesn't matter that I still can't even fathom the concept of a Sandwich University; sign me up for French Dip 101 and keep me in detention forever. The gang was bummed about the transaction, but a sense of hope was restored when Annie, Abed, and the Dean discovered a treasure map behind the portrait of an infamous computer f*cker. Also, the sight of Chris Elliot in that wig gave me a huge comedy boner and guaranteed that his appearance next week will be extra special. 


And hello there, Jeff and Britta! I don't know what was going on between them when they decided to get married, nor am I sure it was earned. But in keeping with the exaggerated feeling of dire straits in the episode's second half, it was kind of a genius move, as "Basic Story" appeared to be sending up the "big event" finale. 

I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about Abed's initial storyline about the episode having no story. At times it worked really well; the beats spent hanging on some random Greendale students looking through bookshelves and then zooming in on some dude slurping chicken noodle soup were bizarre and hilarious. And maybe it was all a self-aware joke about how nothing much was really going on early in the episode ("Basic Story" was very self aware, even slamming the Troy-Britta dating arc of Season 4 because GOOD it deserved to be slammed). But Abed in a beard? And his talk about resisting the story "until it falls apart"? It either went way over my dim head or it really fizzled out. 

As a string of individual jokes, I thought "Basic Story" was one of the best episodes of Season 5. As a complete episode, not so much. But it's too hard to tell at this stage, because a lot of it can roll into the second half of the finale. Until then, it was a funny episode that didn't entirely work as a whole. 



STUDY NOTES


– Haha, Abed's impression of Shirley at the beginning was great. [high pitched] "I don't think it's nice to pigeonhole people's gimmicks," [low pitched] "You hear me, Two Voice?" 

– The city of Greendale defines a dog as any living thing with four legs and a tail. 

– The Dean's struggle with the vending machine, and actually the whole vending machine joke, was so good. 

– "Subwayary."

– Abed, Dean, and Annie doing the buried treasure dance was great, too. 


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 6/2/2015

Season 6 : Episode 13

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"As a string of individual jokes, I thought "Basic Story" was one of the best episodes of Season 5."


Seriously, don't review this show any more if it comes back.
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Subtle joke when they're listing all the things they've fixed and "the gas leak" was on there.
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I think the original combination of cast members was magic, am I alone in missing Pierce?
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The pottery episode in which Pierce "drowns" and gives Jeff a speech about not giving up and "life's a buffet and I'm not leaving until I've had my fill", building a boat to sail back to the training ship (!) and Shirley getting her morals back and saving him was one of my favorite episodes. It really demonstrated what was good and awesome about Pierce's character. Of course, they eventually just made him a cranky, mean villain. :-( He was still one of my favorite characters on the show.
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nope.
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"Didn't work as a whole, but had great funny moments."

That should be the classic definition of sitcom comedy. That's what sitcoms are, mostly. Seeing that we're watching Community here, we're hopelessly spoiled, waiting for each episode to be the next big masterpiece. We hold it to a higher standard. We'll just have to hope that non-fans (and the people in control of the "off" button) realize this eventually too.

Oh, and by the way, Dan Harmon, The only season that didn't have a paintball episode was season 3, and that was the season you got canned.

Just sayin'
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Wow I didn't like it. Not funny, Abed isn't good without Troy, Shirley is still useless, and the whole story wasn't interesting. Next week's might be the last Community for me.
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Abed's impression of Shirley was spot on and Abed,Annie, and Dean dance was epic also 5 dolla!! 5 dolla foot long!!!!!
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If i come over there there are gonna be 2 sounds. Me hitting you, twice.
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Odd episode for sure. First i'm gonna go ahead and say that Abed and the whole meta thing has to down a notch already, just a little, like it was used to be. I sadly felt like this is the end of the journey. But thinking what that guy from NBC said earlier that "season 6 of Community is a strong possibility" is a consolation. Though where would they go from here, will see. Of course there were great moments.

laughed hard at this:
The legend that a Greendale computer professor made love to a computer and died of the first computer virus? Sure.

"Borchert, Borchert, loved computers" Yes, yes, "more than women's butts or hooters. (I just realized that's the guy "Borchert Hall" named after.)

But the city defines a dog as any living entity with four legs and a tail, so raccoons, haha.

and that ending was weird again, Duncan.
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No abed, Noah beard.
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Abed, Annie and Dan's dance routine are hilarous! Great episode by the way.
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I feel like if this were the series finale, it'd almost be too obvious. It was an odd episode, but in a way that made it feel more like Community than most. You are on the money about this feeling like half an episode rather than a full episode of any two-parter - this is definitely one of those episodes that keeps outsiders from getting into the series.

Subway, tragically, does not have a french dip sandwich. Tragic, right?

I almost feel like this whole episode is like that picture of Chris Elliot - it's funny on its own, but there's a good chance the follow-through won't live up to the setup.

The fact that Jeff and Britta freaked out and talked about getting married was awesome BECAUSE it wasn't earned, they were being honest and yet incapable of seeing that they are clinging to anything they can find to survive change, so they just jump into the next big thing.

Yeah, Abed's Shirley was among the high points, as was any 4-legged animal with a tail being a dog.
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The guy eating soup because nothing was happening was amazing and Jeff talking about how boring Britta and Troy were boring are the things that make Community amazing
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Oh that soup bit as Abed leaves mid-sentence, 15 seconds of awkward nothing, that was hilarious.
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Maybe you can explain it to me? I still don't get it.
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I don't know about this episode...or last episode for that matter. Community doesn't make me laugh the way it used to. Has it changed or have I changed?
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I assume you're a Parks fan. I've been thinking for a while that Parks is a lot funnier and still has the same vibe. Both awesome and i think Community is unique. BUT it has inevitably changed after season 3. It's still great. And now NO PIERCE, NO TROY..
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Yes.
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The episode has kind of stuck in my head since I watched it a while ago, it wasn't the funniest episode or anything like that, but it made me realize that I kind of want Greendale to actually go under. It would provide the most closure if the show doesn't get renewed, (I already preemptively hate NBC for not renewing this and for canceling Hannibal.) and it would make the sixth and final season have a really interesting premise and setting.
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I wish Community would let go of the romance aspect of the show all together. It doesn't need it and it's usually weaker for it.
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That is what you think of as a romance? They were calling out sexual orders by number. That's the anti-romance.
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This episode was hilarious as usual. C'mon ,Community always delivers.


**well except for D&D II, that was truly awful....
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This episode was pretty hit and miss for me. I liked bits of it, the insurance appraiser was funny, Dean Pelton was great (as usual) but the episode never seemed to come together.
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I think that this season has been very good overall, despite a couple of fumbles in the latter half. But the biggest disappointment is that, for the most part, this half of the season has not followed through with the great level of character drama that the first half had. I'm especially sad to see they didn't do much with Annie and Shirley (outside of a more basic "control freak" story for Shirley).

That being said, this was a very entertaining episode, and while it didn't really have much drama involved (outside of their sadness in learning that Greendale had been bought by Subway, and Jeff and Britta suddenly deciding to get married), but it had plenty of great comedic moments, and sets up some great stories for the finale.
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What's up with Chang? Did you notice what he wrote on his notepad when he spied their secret meeting?
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Paused it just to see. Pretty sure it was "TOMATO."
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Yep! So, what are they trying to tell us? That Chang has reverted to being totally crazy?
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"reverted"?
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Here's how I imagine it going
  • Treasure will either be non-existent, worthless, or a metaphor
  • BUT... word will get out and the entire student body will start trashing the school trying to find it
    • Fitting in how the school always trashes the place via paintball or the lava game.
  • Subway gives up because the please is a heap, it goes back to being Greendale Community College, and the group decides to make the school better... but not TOO good in the future.
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Or.. it turned out to be Abed's imagination, since he couldn't handle the boredom. Not sure if that's the case but it certainly crossed my mind.
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Wow. This theory makes way more sense than mine... especially considering, like you mentioned, how badly the school is after all of the hijinks the gang & rest of the school get up to (e.g. paintball, lava-world, etc.)
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"I wrote a paper on that dog..." lol hilarious.
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Until this moment I am not sure what to think about this half-finale.
Even though I adore Community for its crazy ideas, twists and turns, surreal episodes, the Jeff-Britta angle has only been entertaining in the beginning, when she was way tougher and he just wanted to sleep with her, doing everything he could to make that happen.
Now it felt quite forced and way too sudden, which in some way fits to the shows suprising factor, but I just thought "Meeehhh, not again".
Abed's storyline was not as expertedly done as it could have been, it also felt rushed.
Some jokes and dialogues were hilarious, as has already been mentioned by others in the review/comment section, so I hope that the second-half-finale will round it all up.
The question remains (and will hopefully be answered soon): Do I want to end Community for good, or do I want to see one more season?
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Yeah, I really didn't buy Jeff-Britta marriage thing. At. All.
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Now that we've seen the finale, I think they handled the Britta-Jeff-Annie thing beautifully.
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That was the point.
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Sorry. I'm not following your meaning.
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They didn't really buy it, Jeff was just grasping at something to fill the void of his Greendale life ending, as was Britta.
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Now that we can see the board in a close-up, I like that "post 'no intercourse' signs in the library" is one of them.

I also like that Jeff and Britta have a numbering system for their sex.
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The best one is clearly:
"Empty septic tank and/or septic tanks (is that one thing a septic tank?)"
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Honestly, I had hoped this was the Finale and that there wouldn't be a part 2 next week, I felt it was the perfect send off for this quirky show. Usually I HATE open ended "cliffhangers" with a passion but it was perfect, just enough of a setup that if they got another season they could pick up where they left off but enough of a story wrap up that if they weren't renewed then we could be left to decide how we want to think the story ends. But no we are gonna most likely "Scrubs season 9 first meeting between Turk and JD" the ending (thereby invalidating what was probably the greatest Finale in Television EVER, the season 8 finale). Still pissed at Zach Braff for doing a Cameo in Season 9.
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I just loved this episode, it was a season highlight. You can see how Harmon and co. start an episode from scratch with no formulas and create unique and exhilirating experiences. They're not always going to reach the heights because they take huge risks. This one was an absolute pleasure to watch, it was weird, it was incredibly funny and the Subway stuff reminded me of my favourite Season 3 episode. The downside was the abrupt ending without narrative resolution. As the 1st of a 2 parter this wasn't as successful as A Fistful of Paintballs. I wish this had been aired back to back with next week's episode because I can't bear too wait.
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Oh, I also got a good chuckle out of Annie's ToDo Stars, and having a star for getting more ToDo Stars.

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The problem with Jeff and Britta- aside from the fact that neither of them have been attracted to one another since season 2 or 3- is that the writers completely devalued Britta, she began as an intelligent feisty woman who fought for various human rights and became a stupid joke, so seeing her as a mature, intelligent person in this episode gave me whiplash and flashbacks to the earlier seasons. Jeff has been experiencing chemistry with Annie for a while now but perhaps the age gap between the two of them- 17 years at least- scared him off.
However I did enjoy seeing the evolution of the Dean and Jeff's relationship- Jeff used to avoid contact at all costs and in this episode he called him 'Craig', pulled him off the vending machine and let him cry on his shoulder.
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At this point, both Jeff and Annie have shrugged off the age gap excuse.
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Several gold nuggets among a river of dirt.

#1 bit was the insurance adjuster explaining that there are 6 such deaths, 5 of them are insurance adjusters doing this very test. Too funny.

Also loved:

* Dean's inadvertent announcement.

* Insurance adjuster's ongoing definitions.

* The irony of losing Greendale because they succeeded in saving Greendale.

* Chang thinking he was playing a game when he was remote controlling some irrigation system.

* Dean: How will I be remembered?

* Dean: Of course I saw that. I'm not stupid. Oh, it meant literally.


But really beyond those (which made me laugh out loud) I really didn't care for the episode. If felt forced and out of sync to me.
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So, I'm calling it now: Annie, Abed, and Dean Pelton were high as kites when they barged in on Britta and Jeff (see: when they opened that note/scroll some powder flew up into their faces and then they were NUTZ! in that next scene). The group will discover some drug cache, or some type of asbestos-like thing, inside the school which will totally devalue it to the point where it can't be sold. Thus, it will continue to be a community college.
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I'll buy that.
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that makes a tonne of sense! I think itll be awesome if you got it right :)
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Good catch on the dust. And, it's a very reasonable prediction.
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That whole part with Jeff wanting to marry Britta was from a short film Abed made in season 1.

Community may be hit-and-miss sometimes, but my God I respect how well they make this show.

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How had I never seen this? lol.
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I can't believe it :O
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omg community omg. there is no other show like it. no other show is so self-aware and metalinguistic, so intelligent, so respectful of the viewers' intelligence, so crazy and SO FUCKING FUNNY
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For me, this season has been pretty underwhelming but I really enjoyed this episode. As for Jeff and Britta, I like the idea of them as a couple, but that happened really quickly. We'll see how it plays out.
Forgot that Chris Elliot was cast this season so I am REALLY looking forward to seeing him in the finale.
Fingers crossed for a Troy and Levar appearance as well.
That was great seeing Annie in a skirt again and Breads...LOL.
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I loved this episode so much. The end tag was probably the best end tag in quite a while. So many great moments. Abed mimicking shirley. Dean asking what he will be remembered as. a bald guy with glasses? (while holding his costumes or whatever). Leonard saying Unsubscribe. The dean crying in his underwear. awkward buried treasure scene. chang's betrayal dance. britta telling the group that she once wrote an article about those dogs. Hickey threatening starburns. the dean's attempted vending machine suicide. Let me be one of the SIX! All of these cracked me up.
the only thing that was a little off for me was Abed not being able to be content.
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Oh thank god someone called out that end tag! That was awesome! Duncan's cousin may be Hickey's son, fantastic!
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This episode kind of fell flat for me but that's mainly cuz it was one big set up. However there were some good parts, I did like the Dean intercom thing.
I just wonder whats going to happen with the whole Jeff/Britta thing? But I have a feeling it will be dropped by the end of the next episode (or will it?)
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This season has just felt so 'off' to me, can't even put my finger on why.
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Maybe cuz the study group wasn't actually attending Greendale? or it could be cause this is kind of like a "new season 1"? That or b/c Troy and Peirce are gone
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I miss the classes
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All of the above I think
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Oh, wow. They went really weird with Abed's storyline. That, the intro scene and the end tag were fantastic. The rest, not so much.
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Yeah, Abed was basically running around and yelling like a crazy person.
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This season was hit or miss for me, but I think all seasons of Community are. Anyone who thought Harmon being back was going to mean consistent awesome-ness clearly hadn't watched the first 3 seasons. It's the great episodes that make Community really worth it, and I think this was one of them.

I'm glad to see them going out on a high note. And by out, I mean out of the season, not the series. #sixseasonsandamovie #savegreendale
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