To many people Community is a television series about a group of students at a community college but it is so much more than that. The series heavily uses pop culture references and meta-humor often parodying film and television clichés. These episodes include a holiday stop-motion episode, a clip show of memories that never happened, a parody of westerns, and even a recent episode that had seven alternate timelines. Every single of one these are worthy of an entire blog post but today in the spirit of Halloween I am focusing on their annual Halloween episodes.
In the first season their Halloween episode was called “Introduction to Statistics” and dealt with Jeff and his decision to blow off his study group’s Halloween party in order to score with the young Statistics professor. However the b-plot of the episode is a great parody of superhero films and Batman. Abed is a student that is obsessed with pop culture and entertainment, much like the show’s creator Dan Harmon and the writers. At Halloween he dresses up as Batman and more specifically as the Christian Bale reboot version. At the end of the episode he saves the day as a chair and desk fort begins to collapse on Jeff who is trying to comfort Pierce about realizing he is old and “un-hip.” Jeff is usually the first to complain about the absurd behavior of Abed but at the end of the episode after he made his decision to choose the study group over the teacher he accepts Abed, his behavior, and his new batch of friends. The ending moment is then a straight parody of the heroic music and narration Batman will often do which was just recently seen in the movie The Dark Knight.
Last season the Halloween episode was called “Epidemiology” but most fans know it has the zombie episode. In this episode the study group is left to fend for themselves when their classmates become “zombies” due to tainted food the Dean cheaply bought. While it was actually an outbreak of rabies instead of them actually being zombies, the episode features numerous horror movie clichés the would be seen in a zombie or horror movie. First was a cat rustling in an abandoned area. Many times in movies characters are often spooked by some animal like a cat flying past them when they are trying to hide and escape the real evil outside. Community parodied this by having the cat constantly keep reappearing and showing it unconvincingly flying across the screen. Another funny comment on horror movies the show made was on music. Usually horror movies have scary, dark, and very intense music but on Community the music was the greatest hits of ABBA mixed in with the Dean’s voice memos. Unable to leave that section of school to change the playlist, upbeat songs like “Dancing Queen” played as the zombies attacked and bit the study group. Finally another comment on horror movies (or any movie in general) came when Troy tries to run through crowd to save the day and turn down the thermostat (which is believe to slow down the symptoms of the zombies before they suffer brain damage). While normally the action hero will burst through the group and destroy all the bad guys in his path, Troy is immediately attacked and stopped. He ends up reaching the goal but after he was bit himself.
I love Community and their themed episodes like their past two Halloween episodes. Tomorrow night at 8 pm on NBC their third episode airs called “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps” and I am sure based on the title and the prior history of the show that it will continue to make fun of and comment on horror movies, pop culture, and entertainment in general. I for one can’t wait for the hilarity and references to ensue.