The Best Sitcom Episode Ever Tournament is pitting 32 of the greatest episodes of funny TV shows ever produced against each other in a single-elimination winner-takes-all (well, takes-nothing) competition. Every day, we’re putting up episodes for you, our loyal readers, to vote on. Today: Community vs. Arrested Development.
Community — “Modern Warfare,” May 6, 2010
In what would come to define Community’s style, the original “paintball episode” is jam-packed with references to action movies, from Rambo to Predator to The Terminator (“Come with me if you don’t want paint on your clothes”). But the original story itself — and the development of Britta and Jeff’s relationship — is enhanced, not bogged down, by these cinematic allusions. It’s topped off with appearances from the reviled Glee Club as well as secondary character favorites Leonard, the Dean and Chang. The episode is funny, but it’s also nostalgic and suspenseful and just plain fun, all the while exploding the boundaries of what a sitcom can do. — Hallie Cantor
Arrested Development — “Pier Pressure,” January 11, 2004
It’s next to impossible to have a favorite Arrested Development episode when they all intertwine and play off each other so well, but “Pier Pressure” is certainly a good place to start. It has so many things that make AD great – George Michael vowing “I was going to smoke the marijuana like a cigarette,” Lucille 2’s vertigo problems, the 60s hit single “The Big Yellow Joint,” the Hot Cops, and George Sr.’s final lesson to his son using his one-armed friend J. Walter Weatherman. Wrap that up with a one-upmanship double pot bust and you get the tight but ridiculously layered goodness that makes watching this show from start to finish more rewarding each time. And remember: Always leave a note. — Megh Wright