Community: “Intro to Recycled Cinema” Season 6 Episode 8 Review

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Only a high-concept episode like this one could’ve gotten Community out of its funk.

I often criticize Community for its reliance on the genre episodes that first gave it fame, as later entries often focused too much on the parodies and less on the characters. There was a point where the show felt like it was becoming less about The Greendale Seven and more about its spoof-of-the-week.

Still, meta and reference humor is this show’s bread and butter, and with the way season 6 has been progressing so far, I almost forgot how great it was to watch the gang tackle some cinematic shenanigans. Community is at its absolute best when it can combine its love of pop culture takedowns with an emotional core, and “Intro to Recycled Cinema” did just that.

The episode centers around  Chang gaining a shred of star power after being featured in a quotable—but not as quotable as this—ham commercial. It seems that Chang has taken his acting skills from “Queer Studies and Advanced Waxing” and parlayed them into a budding Hollywood career. Part of me wondered if this narrative was actually a wink to Ken Jeong’s rise to fame. The actor is a licensed physician who gained acclaim for his shock-value role in The Hangover series, and is now a prominent screen presence. Chang went from teaching/weirdly lurking around a community college to being offered a role in Steven Spielberg’s (not real) Play-Doh Movie. The similarities add up.

Regardless, the real parody of the episode arrives when Abed reveals he has footage of an unfinished movie he was working on with Chang. Frankie, of course, figures out a way to capitalize on this, and so a Guardians of the Galaxy space western begins…much to Abed’s dismay.

The cast does well with the sci-fi format, as the filming of this disastrous new movie allows for great bits of comedy. Annie and Britta’s back-and-forth—Britta getting on her soapbox and Annie shouting back, “Pay your rent!—was hilarious. Meanwhile, Elroy’s obvious enthusiasm at the whole ordeal was infections. I especially enjoyed how proud he was to have covered for his third eye falling off during the bar scene.

The best moments, however, come from Jeff and Abed, as the two struggle with the consequences of making the film. Abed is hesitant to shoot something so blatantly awful, and though Jeff initially encourages him, he soon falls whim to his own issues.

Though not as good as the stellar “G.I. Jeff,” this week’s episode also dealt with the idea that Greendale’s resident group leader is scared of growing old. Chang’s fame has made him realize that he may just be the last person to leave Greendale. As of now, it’s unclear whether Community will get another season, so the finality of Jeff’s worries was very interesting.

Abed’s pep talk was a little too silly to be heartwarming, but it resonated with the idea that his friends will always be there for him. This show could never exist without Greendale, but this scene gave me hope that when it ends, it’ll go out on a high note.

Another great moment came during the ending tag, when Chang is forced to return to Greendale after a failed attempt at celebrity. His reappearance is awkward at first, but he soon settles back into the routine as if he’d never left. I’ve been unsure about this new version of the Greendale gang, but this episode has me very excited for the future. Especially if aliens named Glip Glop are involved. Grade: A-

 

Some Other Notes:

– Seriously, though, “Britta, pay your rent!” needs to become a recurring joke. It cracked me up every time.

– Steve Guttenberg is a strange choice for a guest star, but I’ve seen stranger on this show.

– I resent the fact that Jeff thinks Chris Pratt’s muscles were CGI’d, because, um, hello.

– I really hope that Hollywood voiceover studios do indeed have a tiny door for diva actors to let themselves out of. That would just be amazing.

– Frankie on futuristic steel drums in the bar scene was hilarious.

– Haaaaaam, gurl!

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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