The most meta show on TV returns, and here’s what you need to know before watching.
On Thursday, Community will make its return to the NBC comedy line-up. Fans may be stoked for the main study group to come back, but what about the little people who inhabit the zany, expansive Community universe? And better yet, what about the little fake movies and shows they idolize? We’re glad you didn’t ask, because in honor of Community’s mid-season debut, we’ve assembled a list of the best background characters and made-up pop culture the show has to offer. Now excuse us while we get to work on “Best Martin Sheen speeches and sex scenes in The West Wing.”
Fake Movies & Shows
When Abed invites Troy, Shirley, Chang and Pierce to watch great bad movies, they naturally choose Kickpuncher, a sci-fi flick about a cyborg whose punches have the power of kicks. Both Kickpuncher and its sequels are unfortunately fake – though the Tom Selleck mechanical spiders movie the group almost watches is 100% real and 100% amazing – but at least we have Troy and Abed’s version of Kickpuncher (seen in the clip above)..
The apparent inspiration for Cougar Town and a not-so-secret Downton Abbey spoof, Cougarton Abbey ends after just six episodes when all the characters ingest hemlock. Psst, Whitney! That poison gag was really funny. You should totally do an homage.
A riff on Doctor Who, Abed’s beloved Inspector Spacetime involves bowler hats, blorgons and Lost references. It also inspires a truly terrible Cockney accent by Donald Glover. If that can keep happening, we’d be cool with Inspector Spacetime running for 30 years.
We don’t know why those idiots on Broadway are bothering with Wicked when they have the next Phantom of the Opera on their hands in Fiddla Please! The all-black production Fiddler on the Roof features the showstopper, “It’s Hard to Be Jewish in Russia,” which is destined to unite fans of classic musical theater and fans of hip-hopera at long last.
Troy and Abed in the Morning
It’s like the Today Show, only without the drunk Kathie Lee commentary. Or actual cameras.
Perpetually inaccurate and perpetually drunk, Professor Duncan is the kind of man who has no business teaching. But between his made-up British slang and finals that consist of day drinking, we would enroll in his class in a second.
While most of Community’s side characters are of the quirky funny variety, Fat Neil is pure tragedy. His depression is so concerning that the study group stages an elaborate game of Dungeons & Dragons to cheer him up, leading to an episode that’s heartfelt, hilarious, nerdy Community at its best. And in case you missed it, yes, it was Fat Neil who ripped Britta off with mezzanine tickets.
Original Little Rascals cast member Leonard is many things. Bass guitar player. Frozen pizza reviewer. The wiliest of old men. But he’s certainly never boring, and whenever you hear the phrase, “Shut up Leonard!” you know it’s going to be followed by a great new piece of trivia. For instance, his prescription socks.
For anyone unfamiliar with Magnitude, literally all he does is show up and say his catchphrase, “Pop pop.” Which makes him arguably the best character in television history.
Poor Vicki is much like the Toby Flenderson to Pierce’s Michael Scott. She’s quiet and harmless, yet inspires a hatred of epic proportions. But unlike Toby, Vicki gets hysterical vengeance.
Rich is funny simply because he’s so damn perfect. A dreamy doctor who’s also a gifted potter and kettle corn maker, he’s a nice guy who drives Jeff insane with his lack of flaws. Without Rich to egg him on, we would never have Joel McHale’s tribute to the late, great Patrick Swayze.
Every college has one: The hackysack-playing, green tea-drinking hippie who’s not all there. Vaughn is that hippie and so much more, thanks to his runaway hit “Getting Rid of Britta.” Yes, he’s in a band. Duh.
Never has a desperate ploy for attention been so mesmerizing. In addition to sporting facial hair more magnificent than Sam Elliott and Colonel Mustard’s combined, Starburns wears a top hat and occasionally carries a lizard. Here is a character so real you can smell him, and it smells like a sweaty thrift store.