Published on April 30th, 2015 | by Vyctoria Hart0
Community Season 6 Episode 8 “Intro to Recycled Cinema” Review
Chang is famous! Surprisingly it’s not for (as Annie predicted) eating someone but rather thanks to his popular catchphrase “Haaaaa’aaaaam Gurrrrrl!” in a sandwich meat advert. And now he’s off to Hollywood for the role of ‘The Color Blue’ in Steven Spielberg’s Play Doh movie. No, really, that’s the starting point for this week’s episode of Community. Although the events committee are initially upset when Chang says there’s nothing left for him in Colorado as he had no friends, they begin to the benefits to his absence, such as a 6% reduction in their insurance premium.
When Abed reveals that he had been making a cop film with Chang, Frankie realises that they can cash in on Chang’s new found fame by finishing and releasing it themselves. She brings in the help of her movie producer friend Maury (Steve Guttenburg – Police Academy, Short Circuit) who advises that since no one likes cops any more it should be a sci-fi adventure instead. Since he only has three minutes of footage featuring Chang, all of which shows him as a police chief sat at a desk in front of a New York skyline, Abed resists the idea, unwilling to make a bad movie. Maury insists that they can get around such problems with CG critters “like Chris Pratt has”, prompting Elroy to volunteer his own CGI gingivitis monster Glip Glop whilst Jeff volunteers to the Chris Pratt type character. What ensues is a homage to every low budget sci-fi movie and TV show from Dark Star to Star Wars via Doctor Who. Entitled “Chief Starr and the Raiders of the Galaxy” the movie features Jeff as ‘Mayor of Space’, Britta as ‘Princess Meridian’ his daughter, Annie as ‘Scorpio Nine’ a pleasure droid (and either Meridian’s sister or Jeff’s love interest… it’s complicated) and Garrett as the voice of Glip Glop; whilst the footage of Chang (plus the Dean in a wig) is cut together to form the title character. From pie tin space stations to sets made of bubble wrap and tinfoil no expense has been spent. A Chalmun’s Cantina style scene reveals Elroy as Minotaur Man in a cardboard robot costume, Frankie as some kind of tentacle assassin on steel drums and a guy in the carrot costume from the season premiere. Abed struggles with the low quality of the production, being limited to only two changes per scene and very few takes. Jeff advises him that he should approach movie making the same way Jeff approaches working out, he does it every day, the work is never finished, but he still gets out there and takes his shirt off (there’s an unhealthy obsession with Chris Pratt’s buffness in this scene), similarly Abed shouldn’t spend his life on the treadmill hoping for perfection but get his work out there now.
Filming progresses through a variety of shonky scenery, attacks from wastepaper bin robots, and Glip Glop’s inevitable betrayal. Britta is continually horrified by Annie’s choice of revealing outfit, especially when she improvises a laser bomb coming out of her cleavage, whilst Annie counters that Britta should pay her rent or shut up. The frisbees from S6E01 also make a return appearance in a very slow moving tribute to the Star Wars trash compactor scene, complete with a franchise appropriate accidental incestuous incident, an element Maury seems to approve of as he watches the completed movie. The final scene of the movie shows Chief Starr, with a phone CGI’d into a laser, in a tragic final battle with Dracula, as played by Leonard in a bandana with a greasepaint widows peak. Whilst Maury enjoys the movie he declares that as 87 minutes it is too long and six minutes of footage must be cut. When the committee decides to keep Frankie’s steel drum solo and Glip Glop’s alien marriage scene over Jeff’s topless death monologue, Jeff steals Abed’s laptop.
Hidden away in the trash compactor set Jeff tries to learn editing from YouTube tutorials to ‘save the soul’ of the movie. But like the Dianoga in Star Wars, or Sheldon in Big Bang Theory, Abed is lurking beneath the frisbees. Bazinga! They fight over the laptop and Jeff eventually admits that he doesn’t want to give up his moment of glory because he has realised that he’s never going to leave Greendale Community College. Shirley and Troy are gone, even Pierce got to die and now Chang has gone to Hollywood, whilst Jeff will literally be the last to go. Abed says that Jeff has taught him a lesson about film making that can also be applied to life- “…our plans are randomly gonna fall apart and our lessons are randomly gonna be wrong, and if we just keep the cameras rolling and shoot a lot of crap eventually Annie is going to reach down her shirt and pull out a laser bomb. […]Life is a big, dumb, pointless movie with no story and an abrupt ending where the hero gets shot by Dracula in the middle of a lunch order during an outtake. But somewhere in there, every once in a while. Annie reaches down her shirt. So we keep the cameras rolling, and we edit out the parts we don’t like, and we stop thinking about Chris Pratt so much, because it is not healthy.” So the team finishes the movie and then they learn some more lessons. The first, predictable, lesson involves Chang, hot air ballooning, James Franco’s balls, telling Spielberg to lick his butt and how easily he be can be replaced by Randall Park (Veep, The Interview), the second lesson is about the importance of hiring a movie producer who knows about words like ‘bankruptcy’, ‘YouTube’ and ‘broadband’.
Although this wasn’t exactly a return to the sci-fi dystopias of season 5 the movie sequences in this episode were a welcome return to the surreal and bizarre. I’m pretty sure I’m missing a lot of the references in this episode but I’m sure that will just make it more rewatchable. Seeing a sci-fi stalwart like Keith David playing a cardboard robot like something out of Red Dwarf was a joy in itself and whilst the sets were intentionally cheesy it did effectively hark back to the time when budgets were low and sci-fi films were still fun despite the effects. Sometimes things just come together. I’d definitely sit and watch the whole of “Chief Starr and the Raiders of the Galaxy” given the opportunity, who wouldn’t want to see Dracula versus the Mayor of Space?