'Community' Recap: The Ass Crack Bandit Strikes

This is how we know Community is really back: It did a genre-spoof episode. The very fact that this kind of episode requires so much attention to detail makes it impressive, and combined with the show's sharp comic chops means that these episodes are usually some of the best of the season.

While "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics" fulfills these standards, a lot of its humor relies on the goofiness of its premise: The episode is a serial killer movie spoof in which Jeff and Annie try to track down the "Ass Crack Bandit," a dastardly criminal who keeps putting coins into people's exposed ass cracks at Greendale. Of course, the touchstones of the genre are all there: there's an attempted cover-up by the administration, a montage of newspaper clippings, a press conference, nonstop rain, a dead end, someone falsely turning themselves in, one of the investigators being cornered by the potential "killer," and the entire episode is shot with a spooky blue-green tinge. But the best part is the episode's unsolved mystery (well, that and a random guest appearance from Ben Folds). In the episode's final moments, a cinematic song about the "Ass Crack Bandit" plays while scenes suggest multiple people to be the bandit.

This isn't Community's first time at the genre spoof rodeo, but it's significant because it's the show's first time back on the horse. The show did virtually no spoof episodes in its fourth, Dan Harmon-less season, and we all know how that went. So how does the fifth season's first spoof compare to previous seasons?

  1. Modern Warfare: A pastiche of American action movies. Exciting, well-paced, and always funny, it was one of the show's first jaw-dropping episodes and has yet to be truly topped.
  2. Pillows and Blankets: A spoof of a Ken Burns documentary, it gives a seriousness to the pillow fort plot and a weight to the potential dissolution of Troy and Abed's friendship.
  3. Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking: This mockumentary pastiche is one of the show's finest character studies. Also, LeVar Burton.
  4. A Fistful of Paintballs: The Western Spaghetti side of the paintball two-parter, this was just as an exciting of a romp as "Modern Warfare," but not quite as on point with its comedic moments.
  5. For a Few Paintballs More: The Star Wars second half of the paintball two-parter, this one's spoof qualities were not as strong, but it was still a great episode.
  6. Epidemiology: Community's zombie movie pastiche on Halloween, it was a special holiday episode that was low on character development but high on humor and action.
  7. Documentary Filmmaking: Redux: A spoof of inter-movie-documentaries like Heart of Darkness, this was a manic, hilarious episode.
  8. Basic Intergluteal Numismatic: Although Season 5's spoof episode may not have reached been at the top of the heap, it was a solid Community episode with a lot of great details to offer.
  9. Basic Lupine Urology: This Law and Order spoof was spooky in its exactness, but didn't have as much lighthearted wit as a typical Community episode.
  10. Contemporary American Poultry: A mafia movie parody, it may not have been as awe-inducing as other spoof episodes but it was a fun episode that was still one of the show's best.
  11. Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps: This spoof drew from the world of horror movies, and while its mental patient plot ends up being a bit of a cop out, the various spoofs managed to be smart and funny while also being a reflection of the characters who told them.
  12. Conspiracy Theories and Contemporary Design: A conspiracy movie episode, this one was small on spoof plot but still great in structure.

Image: NBC