“Intro to Recycled Cinema” certainly takes the award for the most “out there” installment of Community’s sixth season, but I enjoyed every minute of it! Chang finds himself in the public eye after being given a part in a ham commercial, of all things, with his catchphrase “Ham, girl!” sweeping the country by storm. In a reporter’s interview with Chang, Chang is even said to have been called by Steven Spielberg to play the part of “Blue” in the “Play-Doh Movie.” It’s a ridiculous premise, though in this day and age of internet stardom and seemingly everyone having their fifteen minutes of fame, hardly unbelievable. Frankie, leaping on this opportunity, introduces everyone to a producer she knows, and a plan is drafted to take footage of Chang from an unfinished movie Abed was putting together, and to create a low budget Sci-Fi movie around it.
Work begins on “Captain Starr and the Raiders of the Galaxy” as the gang vows to finish production and shooting over a weekend, improvising their dialogue, and indeed most of the script. Abed’s love of the art of cinema clashing with the need to make a quick buck is certainly something that is paramount in this day and age. I do wish they had delved a bit deeper into this, as Abed falls in line a tad too easily after receiving a pep talk from Jeff, which of course includes references to Jeff going to the gym every day. Abed was always a character who stuck to his guns on subjects close to his heart, whether it be friendship or movies or what have you, so I would say it was a little jarring to have him switch positions so quickly. To be fair though, this did allow to explore the more interesting topic of Jeff’s inner demons.
Playing up the fact that so many of the past cast have left the show at this point, Jeff tries desperately to keep his death scene as “Mayor of Space” in the movie, in order to deal with the idea that he will still be at Greendale long after the rest of the group has left. Jeff has always been the most interesting character of the group to me, in so much as that he has gone through the most change. Certainly, he’s the de facto leader, always piping in with a motivational speech and uniting everyone in times to turmoil, but Jeff was once a heartless attorney that learned to really care about the people around him. Jeff’s journey has taken him from attorney to student to teacher, from relationship to relationship, all while maintaining the allure of being the cool guy in the room. It makes perfect sense that he would be fearful of everyone leaving Greendale, as he would lose the folks who watched him progress as a human being. “Even Pierce got to die!” a downtrodden Jeff says as he wrestles with Abed for the footage. It’s a very scary thing to grapple with change and for Jeff, who has seen so much of it, it makes sense that he would want to stagnate it as much as he could in his favor.
Swinging back to “Chief Starr,” the movie is an absolute delight, and provides the biggest laughs of the episode, with improvised scenes such as Glib Glob’s betrayal, Elroy’s Minotaur Man, Frankie’s steel drum knowledge being reference from last week’s episode, and Leonard as the villain of the picture, “Master Dracula.” Having only about a two minute clip of Chang, Abed and company do their best to incorporate the footage into the Sci-Fi flop as much as humanly possible. The show could have taken the easy way out and merely thrown in a few sound clips here and there, but it takes it the full nine yards by thinking of really clever and hilarious ways to mix up Chang’s part. Chang using a phone as a laser gun and giving a death speech to Master Dracula with a terrible CGI chest wound were two of my favorite highlights.
As I mentioned earlier, the character interactions were also top notch here, with the improvised script allowing for the gang to take jabs at one another along the way. It’s great to see that Community realizes what a force it has in Keith David’s Elroy, as his comedic timing makes you think that he’s been with everyone from the start. A throwaway scene involved Elroy explaining to the gang that he found a green “#3” billiard ball in his RV, and it’s amazing how David is able to take the ball and run with it, making his puzzlement over the ball’s origin one of the funniest moments in the episode. Normally, I would take a minute to talk about Frankie’s lack of a contribution to the episode, but honestly, this week’s episode saw her shine a bit. Not as much as I would hope, but her steel drum playing in the cheap Star Wars cantina knock off scene was a genuinely humorous callback. Even Community’s secondary players, Leonard and Garrett, were given some gut-busting moments this time around, and Garrett easily got the biggest laugh of the night from me when he became “Hollywood.”
While I wouldn’t necessarily say that this episode will go down as one of the “classic” episodes of Community that people look back on in the future, it was a fun, breezy entry that had a lot of laughs and a surprising amount of heart from Jeff.
Episode Rating: ★★★★ Very good
– Chang’s failure in Hollywood — telling Steven Spielberg to “lick his butt” while voice recording for the “Play-Doh” movie — was fantastic. I think that would have worked much better as the very final scene of the episode, rather than Chang’s morose return to the group.
– I loved how the producer was so into “Chief Starr and the Raiders of the Galaxy”. His enthusiasm was contagious.
– Jeff’s rivalry with Chris Pratt is totally believable and hilarious, as well as his disbelief of Pratt’s change from Parks and Rec’s Andy to Guardians of the Galaxy’s Starlord.
– Elroy: “Wild West, baby! Space version of the Wild West!
– Britta: “Improvise pockets!”
– Abed: “Bazinga!”