How the community created the perfect clip show episode

Clip show episodes are inherently redundant: these types of stories reduce production costs and complete a season’s episode roster by creating an episode that primarily features flashbacks of previous episodes that have already been broadcast. Sometimes the clip show episode is used to remind viewers of what has happened so far or to catch up with viewers who may not have seen all the episodes.

If they go on long enough, every sitcom eventually has a music video episode. And while some may be entertaining and may even be a good way to catch up on everything that’s happened in the series so far, the clip series episode’s redundancy is still a negative point, which makes episodes like this highly skippable. Usually nothing new happens. There’s usually not a whole lot of new footage other than the occasional short scene that features characters thinking, “Do you remember when that happened?”

Community, on the other hand, pulled off an incredibly creative clip show by subverting the very nature of this type of episode in Season 2 Episode 21, “Paradigms of Human Memory.” In short, no previously used footage has been included in the mini recap series. None of the clips have ever been shown before, and most of them are completely new circumstances, with a few minor exceptions.


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Picture via NBC

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During the final stages of a class project involving the creation of a diorama, the study group – Jeff (Joel McHale), Brita (Gillian Jacobs), A bed (Danny Pudi), Anne (Allison Brie), Troy (Donald Glover), Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown), and Pierce (Chevy-Chase), assisted by Chang (Ken Jeong) – discovers that a thief monkey has been stealing little trinkets from them all year long. The episode begins with the typical setup of a music video show letting the characters reminisce about moments that were shown in season one and so far in season two, including a miniature sombrero from the overly ambitious Spanish project. from Jeff and Pierce (Season 1, Episode 2, “Spanish 101”) and Annie’s purple pens from the bottle episode (Season 2, Episode 8, “Cooperative Calligraphy”).

The very inclusion of Troy’s monkey is reminiscent of the Chicken Mafia family the study group formed in season 1, episode 21 (“Contemporary American Poultry”). Any regular clip show episode would launch into a series of short flashbacks from here, using previously shown footage. But Community leaves this expectation very early.

When Britta talks about the time the group visited a tourist town in the Wild West, the clip the episode cuts to is completely new. Casual viewers who haven’t watched all of the episodes leading up to this one might not even realize it, but the Wild West adventure that keeps being talked about never happened before. the camera before. The same goes for the St. Patrick’s Day misadventure, the cafeteria jump rope game, and many other increasingly quirky and weird circumstances, like a haunted mansion and a padded cell.


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Picture via NBC

While the flashback clips are quick and the characters behave as if the experience had been shown, there are also circumstances included in the clip show that aren’t entirely new. Abed’s mental breakdown from Season 2, Episode 12 (“Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas”) is revisited, but instead of showing material viewers are already familiar with, those moments are revisited from different angles. The first flashback shows the study group walking Abed through the winter wonderland live, even though the Christmas special it was shot from was entirely stop-motion animated. The second flashback shows the same animation but expands one of the scenes to include Jeff and Britta flirting.

This out-of-the-box approach to the clip show episode is not without reason. “Paradigms of Human Memory” prioritizes character work, so there’s a full and dynamic story thread woven throughout the episode. When Abed reveals Jeff and Britta’s secret affair, the study group is forced to come to terms with their chaotic mark of friendship and how they could sidestep toxic fights. Flashbacks are used as evidence to support certain characters’ arguments, providing an amusing setting and the reason flashbacks exist. Abed launches into a series of clips that indicate Jeff and Britta are together, the study group as a whole reminisces about all the times Jeff and Britta have stood in front of the group, and Britta provides proof that everyone has been selfish at one point. Even the Dean (jim rash) becomes a victim of the group’s increasingly aggressive flashback fights.

The jabs get more personal (and the flashbacks more stylistic and hilarious) as Annie describes seemingly mundane and normal interactions with Jeff through the lens of her crush on him as “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles plays throughout the edit. To make a point, Jeff does the same with the interactions between the more random couple, Abed and Pierce, and the same song is used, turning the romantic montage parody into a parody of itself.


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Picture via NBC

“Paradigms of Human Memory” has a way of turning into multiple levels of chaos. As the group laments that they are still fighting, the flashbacks become steps back in time to past arguments and how they always end the same way. This kind of creative spiral is too much for Troy, who is screaming and suffering from a nosebleed, but this direction for the episode was announced well in the very first scene, where the study group diorama turns out to be a diorama of themselves building another. diorama.

Although the clips are short and have a similar feel to the regular clip show, they are completely new and intertwine to form a cohesive idea of ​​how the study group interacts with each other, highlighting highlights its most dysfunctional moments as well as its most heartwarming ones. . Fortunately, Jeff is able to take control of the situation, as always, but even the classic Winger speech is subverted: because it is spread over different levels of clip flashbacks, Jeff’s speech becomes incomprehensible nonsense. . But no matter what he says; the fact that Jeff brings things back to status quo is what matters as there is peace within the study group again.

This episode can be seen as a point of reference that indicates how Community walks a fine line between being your average sitcom and breaking all the rules. Almost all of the storytelling elements included in clip shows, as well as some of the Communityown tropes, are somehow subverted. This turns the episode of the clip show, which has earned a reputation for being uncreative, into a unique experience. Unlike many other clip episodes from shows past and present, these subversive elements make “Paradigms of Human Memory” a must-watch.


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