Community is both a tribute to and a biting satire of the world of television and film. Much like The Simpsons, you can enjoy entire episodes without getting any of the references, but when you do get them it adds an entire other layer to your enjoyment. Over six seasons (and a movie - fingers crossed) the show parodies dozens of films and TV shows successfully. Here are six of the very best to prime you for season five, airing in October on SBS2.
'Contemporary American Poultry' - Goodfellas parody
"As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be in a Mafia movie" says Abed, the show's meta commentator. Although he gets his wish in this hilarious episode, I'm sure he never dreamed that controlling the college cafeteria's supply of chicken fingers would be the impetus. This whip-smart parody is perhaps the earliest example of Community really stretching out and devoting an entire episode to a single silly idea, then pushing it to the nth degree.
The episode is, of course, a take on Goodfellas and Mean Streets - with a touch of The Godfather trilogy thrown in for good measure.
It comes complete with sweeping cinematography, distribution montages, deadpan narration, and a lesson about how absolute power corrupts.
'Modern Warfare' - Die Hard/Rambo parody
The paintball episodes of Community are legendary, but the original will never be topped. What is meant to be a bit of (albeit misguided) fun soon becomes full-blown war, with Joel McHale doing his best John McClane (Die Hard) impersonation. Or maybe he is Sly from Rambo? Or Scarface's Tony Montana? Or the hero from almost every '80s man-against-the-world shoot 'em up films where bullets are plentiful, blood shed is inevitable, and all you need is self-belief - and a pithy catchphrase.
The fact they are playing paintball almost gets lost in the fray. It is one of the most ambitious - and funniest - half-hours of television you will ever see.
'Epidemiology' - Zombie film parody
A take-off of Day Of The Dead, Night Of The Living Dead, and basically any film from the past 20 years that features the undead. 'Epidemiology' nails all the zombie flick tropes effortlessly, including Troy's (Donald Glover) triumphant run to become the first ever black guy to make it all the way to the end of a horror film.
This episode is also a great excuse to dress the cast in ridiculous Halloween costumes. Like all good parodies, it actually functions as a pretty good Halloween episode/zombie flick - even without the jokes.
'Basic Lupine Urology' - Law and Order parody
Law and Order has a distinct style that must have been too tempting for Community not to ape. In fact I'm frankly surprised they were able to hold out until season three.
As always, they completely nail it, with the good cop/bad cop routines, the cut quicks, the music queues, the dry (and largely inappropriate) one-liners, and, of course, that font. Jeff's refusal to give up any information due to a pinkie-swear is played beautifully straight; this, added to the fact they are investigating a squashed yam from a sabotaged biology assignment, makes it all the more ridiculous and hilarious.
Being a Law and Order episode, the perp is who you least expect… DUN DUN.
'Regional Holiday Music' - Glee parody
Both a take on the Glee phenomenon that was sweeping the world way back in 2011 and Christmas episodes in general, 'Regional Holiday Music' is one of the weirdest episodes of Community - and that's saying a lot!
Greendale's glee club spontaneously bursts into remixed (and heavily harmonised) versions of Christmas classics, until they are served with a cease and desist notice for breaching copyright. The gang are convinced one by one to fill in for the now-traumatised Glee club by the maniacal director, and slowly succumb to the allures of competing in "regionals", even if they don't know what they are.
Alison Brie's sexy/disturbing Christmas carol 'Teach Me How To Understand Xmas' is a brutal take on what the episode's writer Megan Ganz calls "the way that those 'Santa Baby' songs infantilise women’s sexuality", while the terrible TV special "Inspector Spacetime's Holiday Special" is a parody of the failed 'Star Wars Holiday Special' - a show so terrible it was never aired again.
'Pillows and Blankets' – Ken Burns documentary parody
There's a documentary crew on campus to capture a Guinness World Record attempt to build the biggest blanket fort ever, but conflict arises, battle-lines are drawn, and two factions throw Greendale Community College into civil war.
Cue the Ken Burns documentary-style narration.
Fans of Burns' in-depth but undeniably dry documentary style will love this episode, especially how seriously the entire enterprise is taken by all involved. The final scene, where photographer Britta (Gillian Jacobs) manages to mess up all but one of the photos is the perfect cap to a silly, excellent episode.
Community season 5 commences on SBS2 Monday 17 October at 7:05pm.