Naturally, the “Community” Season 5 episode that features “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan has to involve a descent into crime. Only the crime doesn’t involve meth here — it’s about textbooks. And Vince Gilligan has nothing to do with the illegal book racket. Instead, he appears as a cowboy in a 1990s-era VCR game..

In order to make some sense of any of this, please enjoy the following recap of “VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing.”

Never let Shirley near a vice

For someone who is so good and moral most of the time, Shirley sure likes her descents into crime and debauchery. This week’s temptation comes in the form of chemistry books. Along with Jeff and Professor Hickey, Shirley finds a hoard of brand-new textbooks in a storage room.

Naturally, the group immediately comes up with a plan to capitalize on this. They’re prodded a bit by the fact that paychecks have been delayed (a problem not remedied by the Dean dressing up as a peanut bar and regaling everyone with a freestyle rap).

But mostly they just want money.

Britta gets brought in quickly, because she is the only one likely to know the kinds of people who buy things illegally. Which is surprising, because this has nothing to do with pot or peyote. Maybe the same shady figures buy and sell both?

We don’t really find out the details, because the plan quickly falls apart. Even though the group sets up Chang to take the fall if they get caught (because “stolen textbooks are the best”), arguing breaks out. This is mostly Jeff’s fault.

By the time the deal is ready to be made, only Shirley is left unbound and capable of meeting with Britta’s guy (played by Paul Williams, for those who care about such things).

Alas, crime doesn’t pay this time. The books are actually flawed, lacking page numbers. No one wants a textbook without page numbers!

Draw! Bang bang!

Short confession: As a youngster in the early ’90s, I was a big fan of video-based board games. “Clue” was especially entertaining. For those who have never played them, however, yes they are that confusing. And essentially pointless.

Let’s just say it was a fad that had its time. And that time is not now.

Such things have never deterred Abed, especially when the VCR game, Pile of Bullets, is a gift from his girlfriend Rachel (the ever-awesome Brie Larson). But the game turns ugly (or uglier — it was never pretty) when Annie and Abed make victory at Pile of Bullets be the deciding factor about who will move into the apartment.

Annie wants her laconic and hirsute brother, Anthony, to take the place, because he has money and can fix things. He also cuts carrots very well. But Abed wants Rachel to move in for the obvious reason that she is his girlfriend.

They don’t bother telling Anthony or Rachel any of this.

Thus begins a game that gives True American from “New Girl” a run for its money in the insane department. While Anthony and Rachel are quickly bored, Annie and Abed dive headlong into the madness and are expert players of whatever is going on in no time.

Not that it helps — when the others figure out what is going on, they both get kind of offended and leave. That seems to be it for Annie and Anthony (he honestly seems like kind of a jerk), but Rachel and Abed mend their relationship after Abed apologizes sweetly while getting water poured on his head. You know, because the best apologies are in the rain.


Evan really shouldn’t have given up that job at Apple for video board games and cocaine. Just sayin’.

Posted by:Laurel Brown