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There isn’t a show on television that’s able to pull off high-concept episodes quite like Community. Whether they’re building a world of imagination like in “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons,” spoofing movies like in “Modern Warfare,” or creating their own version of a Rankin/Bass holiday special like in “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas,” the show’s group of oddball characters and crazy environment allows boundaries to be pushed that others can’t even go near. With “Remedial Chaos Theory” they’ve done it once again.
The first episode to take place almost entirely off the Greendale campus, the story opens with a Troy and Abed hosting a housewarming party at their shared apartment with the entire group present. As they sit down to play a friendly game of Yahtzee, the intercom buzzer goes off letting them know that the pizza has arrived. Because nobody wants to go downstairs, Jeff devises a plan: he rolls one of the die and whatever number it lands on will determine who has to get out of their chair. Doing so, however, as Abed points out, creates separate timelines, each of which has different consequences for each member of the study group.
What truly stands out about the episode is how finely crafted it is. Each segment has repeating gags – Jeff bangs his head on a fan, Britta heads to the bathroom, Pierce tries to tell a dirty joke – but the way things play out is entirely determined by who isn’t in the room. As a result, some of the timelines are absolutely outrageous and off the wall, while others are more controlled (but still hilarious).
The only thing that holds “Remedial Chaos Theory” back is sadly an uncontrollable factor: time. Because the episode is only 22 minutes long and there is a separate timeline for all of the characters, each segment goes by really quickly. I can’t help but wonder what this episode could have been like if NBC had given them an hour-long slot.
“Remedial Chaos Theory” will air in Community’s normal timeslot at 8PM EST. Be sure to come back after the episode has aired for a full recap.