Community 608 recap/ review
Intro to Recycled Cinema
“Intro to Recycled Cinema” took a premise that many expected “Community” to take a long time ago—a concept episode following the production of one of Abed’s films with the main cast filling in for his film cast. The episode opens on a popular deli meat commercial with Chang popping in at the last minute to shout, “HAM, GIRL!” as if he were saying, “Damn, girl!” Right after this, we’re taken to a Chang interview on the fake entertainment news show, “Celebrity Blast.” His success from playing Miyagi in “Queer Studies and Advanced Waxing” skyrocketed him to commercial acting. We find out in the interview that Steven Spielberg is interested in Chang to star in “The Color Blue.” Chang also admits he hasn’t told anyone that he left his teaching position as the camera shows the Save Greendale Committee watching his interview with dropped jaws. “Turn it off!” Jeff demands as the rest of group can barely utter a word. The Dean indicates that he’s towing Chang’s car after three weeks of waiting. Roll opening credits.
As Britta tends bar, she sarcastically toasts “To Chang!” as the others gather around a table. They speculate as to whether or not the Spielberg rumors are true, and Frankie finds a silver lining in Chang’s absence- the insurance company reduced premiums by six percent. Abed expresses that he’s the only one who misses Chang because they were filming a movie together before he booked the ad. When Abed answers in the affirmative that Chang signed a release, dollar signs form in Jeff and Frankie’s eyes. They suggest using Abed’s footage of Chang—a potential star of a Spielberg film—to make their own movie to make a few bucks for Greendale by cashing in on his big name. At Abed, Annie, and Britta’s place, the director screens his Chang footage for the committee. He mentions a former cop helping him with movie, referencing Jonathan Banks’ criminology professor Buzz Hickey from season five. Frankie enters with her producer friend, Maury (a Steve Guttenberg guest appearance). Maury guarantees a “fast turn-around deal” if the gang can make an 81-minute movie that “arguably stars the Ham Girl guy.” Abed doesn’t understand how his cop movie can come to fruition with such little footage, but Maury insists that people like space and dinosaurs now instead of what Abed wants to create and convinces the group to shoot a crappy sci-fi to capitalize on their Chang footage.
Maury explains how this kind of thing happens all the time and one can’t help but notice a few similarities between “Intro to Recycled Cinema” and Tim Burton’s Ed Wood as a production team scrambles to base an entire motion picture around seemingly useless footage of a star they can no longer include in the project. He also can’t stop talking about Chris Pratt as more and more allusions to Guardians of the Galaxy become apparent. Elroy agrees to help in the CGI department to help with special effects. Elroy also uses his platform to present a mysterious pool ball to the group. Jeff then agrees to be the Chris Pratt-type. Abed indicates that he doesn’t want to make the movie the group pitches him. The Dean threatens to slander him on the announcements before Frankie says that if Abed doesn’t make the movie, it’s just as good as robbing Greendale of half a mil. Abed tries to make them agree to producing a good movie, but it’s clear they merely want to rush production and have zero standards for the project. Elroy concludes it with, “So…Let’s crap out this piece of crap.”
The rest of the episode blends production/ shooting with finished scenes in order to give the viewer a dynamic of behind-the-scenes and completed footage. The group calls their movie Chief Starr and the Raiders of the Galaxy with Chang starring as the Chief. The production is what one might expect from the committee: random costumes and wigs thrown together, hilariously awful CGI characters voiced by Garrett, terrible makeup work, the halls and classrooms of Greendale wrapped in aluminum foil to give the movie a futuristic illusion, and the Dean throws on a wig to sit/ stand in for Chang. Abed has difficulty connecting with cast as they clearly care far less about this movie than he does. The film doesn’t really follow a plot, but that doesn’t seem to bother anyone. They use close-ups of Chang to create the illusion of walking and fill in the background with their new footage. Perhaps the funniest nod in their movie was that Frankie’s character also played steel drums (remember last week?) in homage to the cantina scene from Star Wars. Elroy’s fake third eye falls out and the camera keeps rolling during a scene. Who would even watch this? The rest of the movie also heavily borrows from Star Wars as they film a climactic scene in an equivalent of the Death Star’s trash compactor. “Space garbage!” Jeff proclaims. Leonard appears toward the end of the movie as the villain, “Dracula,” who uses “Dracula force.”
Maury loves the movie, but asks them to shave six minutes off of the runtime. The group collectively agrees that Jeff’s death scene needs to get cut because it’s too long and doesn’t feature any Chang in there. Jeff, obviously reluctant, nabs Abed’s laptop to edit the movie all by himself. As Jeff sits alone editing in the room where they shot the trash compactor scene, he ignores the door knocks until Abed sneaks in as if he were a dianoga himself. He tells Abed to back off, but now the shoe is on the other foot. Abed tries to convince Jeff that the movie is “a piece of crap.” Abed pops up behind Jeff with a “Bazinga!” to reference Sheldon’s ball pit antics from “The Big Bang Theory” as Jeff lunges for Abed and strangles him. After they separate, Jeff comes clean and admits he’s afraid he’ll be the last one of the group stuck at Greendale—this explains his acting out earlier in the episode. It isn’t too often that Jeff openly bares soul, especially just for Abed. They reach an understanding and share a hug. Jeff wants to cut his death scene out once and for all.
We jump later on in the time line as they premiere the film for Greendale and Maury, but this time with an alternative ending. Maury receives a troubling phone call from the distributor and wanders away from the group, it doesn’t look they’ll get distribution. Annie pulls up some news about Chang on her phone. Their footage no longer seems bankable after a hot air balloon mishap involving James Franco. They share a group moment as the camera takes us to Chang in a studio booth, looping/ dubbing lines for Spielberg, who fires him for not working very hard. The episode concludes with Chang entering the study room and reassuming his place at the table as if nothing happened. Everybody dumps on Britta with Elroy even finally admitting “she’s the worst.” Chang shouts his agreement and everything snaps back to the way it used to be for them.