Themed Episodes Gives Show Huge Potential
The phrase “six seasons and a movie”means a lot to anyone subversive or stoned enough to closely follow Dan Harmon’s show about community college misfits. It has been more than just a battle cry for fans of the show. It has been a carrot, dangled in front of our faces from distances both far and near, for years. When Yahoo picked up the show for a 6th season and possibly more; spirits had never been higher. But… the show completely bombed in its new home and cost Yahoo a shit ton of money. Leading the powers that be to once again yank the dream of “Community: The Movie” from the realm of possibilities and cast into a hopeless wasteland, imaginary enough to host “Troy and Abed in the Morning.”
Of course this isn’t a huge surprise. Network sitcoms, with their simplistic plots and episodic formulas, wouldn’t make for good movies. I don’t need 2 hours of the “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” precinct chasing weaponless criminals and arguing over the office dress code. And I don’t need the same dose of J.D. doing everything in his power to win the approval of Dr. Cox. Thirty minutes, 24 weeks a year is good enough.
However, “Community” is not like other network sitcoms, especially during its prime– end of season 2 and all of season 3– years . That’s because “Community” mastered what would allow it to have a kickass movie: Themed episodes.
Unlike its contemporaries, Harmon’s characters transcended their primary roles. Jeff, Britta, Abed, Annie, Pierce, Shirley, and Troy spent most of their time at Greendale as more than just college students. They’ve been Christmas claymations, paintball assassins, dungeon masters, 2-dimensional video game characters, and more .
No network sitcom ever has or ever will deserve a feature film. But you can’t tell me that a themed episode of “Community” could make a bomb ass TV movie. In today’s media climate Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon could make this happen. And lucky for them, I’ve taken the liberty of doing the heavy lifting and churned out some ideas.
A real crowd pleaser, the Greendale gang is thrown back into the video game format— a Mario Kart style race. The City College dean uses an innocent invitation to a costume clad Culture Club Carnaval to lure Dean Pelton into a winner-take-all, virtual death race. Pitting Jeff Winger and his friend against a Guest Start Christian Slater led team go-kart driving cronies from down the road.
But there is a rouge driver on the streets. Abed, more comfortable with a Mad Max archetype than the Nintendo one he’s given, drives a keytar-powered war machine through anyone in his path. He tires of being let down by the decision makers at Greendale. He’s in it for himself. He wants to be the new Dean.
Jeff and Shirley make a promise to the dean to save the school once again, but Britta and Annie can’t help but sympathize with the stoic and silent Abed. To make matters worse, Ben Chang operates as double agent and for the millionth time takes advantage of the gang’s accepting nature.
As the red shells and banana peals settle, the film ends with Chang and Abed in a dead heat. The future of Greendale hangs in the balance of whether Jeff and the others can get through to their friend.
Loosing a best friend isn’t easy. The fact that Abed has gone almost two seasons without show much as a moan in the night to his long lost pal, Troy, is fine if you believe in personal growth. Just kind of inconsistent I expected there’d already be a few musical numbers and a James Cameron themed episode on the subject.
One night, while watching re-runs of “Anger Management” on FX, Abed sees something he can’t believe. His best friend Troy limping through the streets of Atlanta with what appears to be new friends.
A saddened Abed recruits Jeff and Jeff’s Audi to go with him to Georgia to find Troy. Meanwhile, murmurs of resurrection at the Air Conditioning Repair School have surfaced. A horrifying fear gas that aims to tear the school apart has penetrated the ventilation at Greendale. While Britta, Hickey, Annie, and Shirley hold off John Goodman’s chemical advances, Jeff realizes that even Abed is meta enough to handle this high-stakes crossover. Only a partnership with FX and their new show can save the day. The question is: will the lawyers let it happen?
Capstone: Painting Pain
“Community” has already explored the Wild West and outer space in their famous paintball wars. As a season 3 flashback episode indicated, a tribute to the golden age of cinema seems like the next viable option.
The movie starts of like any piece of 1950 noir. Professor Detective Buzz Hickey sits alone in his low-lit office. He takes a drag of a cigarette. Annie, the femme fatale, enters the room. She explains the Dean’s attempts to bank in on the school’s sweet insurance policy through another paintball war, how a mysterious person has rigged the ceiling sprinklers with more paint than ever before, and how the threat has created a sense of nuclear deterrent on the combatants despite a grand prize of a $200 Peach Wave gift card.
A hard-boiled private eye who has seen it all, like Hickey, has no interest in Annie’s silly, soft-serve shenanigans. But suddenly, an enigmatic first shot is fired. Panic ensues. Now it is up to Annie and Hickey to find the culprit and restore order. Their first suspect: local anarchist Britta Perry.
I don’t want to give anymore away, but the trail begins to lead towards Shirley’s estranged husband, played by Malcolm Jamal-Warner, and the vacant drug empire Starburns left behind.