Don't You (Forget About The Breakfast Club)
As the study group assemble in Community’s opening episode, it’s almost impossible for media-obsessed Abed to avoid the obvious comparisons to John Hughes' teen classic. Community’s meta maestro hammers his point home by reciting Judd Nelson's iconic speech about getting a carton of cigarettes for Christmas. It’s the first of a smattering of references to the film strewn throughout the show’s three seasons.
The croaked crusader
When Annie decides to throw a Halloween party, the entire group dress up for the occasion. There are some great costumes, but Abed steals the show as Batman, complete with cape, cowl and gravelly Christian Bale voice. Brilliantly, he stays in character throughout almost the entire episode, even swooping in to save Piers’ Beastmaster (another geeky reference for us fans of 80s fantasy flicks).
The gang go all Mystery Science Theatre 3000 in this madcap episode. This time around the movie buffs shamelessly mock a fictional 80s parody called Kick Puncher (a cyborg whose punches have the power of kicks). The show takes many hilarious sideswipes at RoboCop and his fellow silver screen cyborgs, leaving us rolling around in stitches.
Seeing a ghost
Community’s dedication to geeky references is exemplified by a background gag that was three years in the making. Starting in its freshman year, the writers snuck a reference to Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice into each of the show’s subsequent seasons. As we all know, if you utter the titular ghoul’s name three times, he eventually appears. That’s quite a lot of dedication from the writers!
The little things count
Alongside the episode-long geeky gimmicks and in-your-face meta-moments, there are a host of blink-and-you’ll-miss-them titbits that really make the show sing. Some of the little things that made us smile include Jeff’s use of ‘Shazbot’, a fictional profanity used by Robin Williams in Mork & Mindy, and the subtle use of Lost’s familiar trombone-tail off which sneaks its way onto almost every episode.
You may recognise the lovely Alison Brie (who plays mild-mannered Annie) as her turn as Trudy Campbell on Mad Men. Any other series would try to distract your attention away from it, but not Community! The show turned it into a knowing joke as Abed impersonates the show’s suave star, Don Draper, in order to demonstrate his ability to pick up girls.
Taking a cue
Jeff’s pool hall grudge match is funny in its own right. But it’s also a wildly convoluted play on Tom Cruise’s pool movie The Color Of Money, complete with the pint-sized pool shark’s trademark boasting. And as if that wasn’t geeky enough, it’s even set to Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves in London” - the very same soundtrack that appears in the film. Those Community guys really do think of everything…
I always wanted to be in a mafia movie
A play on Goodfellas that replaces booze and drugs with chicken fingers, this episode demonstrates the writers’ encyclopaedic knowledge of pop culture. It even manages to squeeze in a little Sixteen Candles skit for good measure.
After the Dean announces a friendly game of paintball, Greendale sinks into a state of all-out war. This half hour homage to action movies references everything from Escape From New York to The Warriors via Scarface, Die Hard and Predator. It’s pure nerd-vana for us film fans, but somehow still manages to spin a giant pile of clichés into a touching story about the show’s characters.
Troy and Abed’s end bits
Bookending every episode are Troy and Abed’s post credit skits. From Sesame Street to Morning News, via a Batman growl off and Christmas raps, these bite-sized bits of pop cultural learning regularly provide some of the show’s most referential punchlines. As far as endings go, these are some of the best!
Community series 1 is available to XL customers. Just go to Catch Up & On Demand followed by TV for XL. Then search By Channel for US Boxsets.
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