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Community recap: 'Documentary Filmmaking: Redux'

Dean Pelton fashions himself a DeMille-style film director, complete with riding crop. Terrible unhappiness follows

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Community Joel Mchale
Lewis Jacobs/NBC


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Joel McHale
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“I am living a documentarian’s worst nightmare. I have become the subject of my own film.”

Abed didn’t say that during “Documentary Filmmaking: Redux,” but he very well could have. Actually, that quote comes from Jan Jurgen (Justin Theroux), the Herzog-esque filmmaker who “directed” Rain of Madness, a faux making-of doc about Tropic Thunder that’s funnier than the movie itself. Rain of Madness was the Hearts of Darkness to Tropic Thunder’s Apocalypse Now, meaning that it’s pretty much like the movie Abed was making — a devastating portrait of a deluded director undone by his own hubris. In Rain of Madness the mad director we see slowly becoming unhinged is Damian Cockburn; in Hearts of Darkness, Francis Ford Coppola; and in Abed’s movie, none other than Dean Pelton. (In reality, the people who are truly going crazy are Community fans, after we learned this week that NBC is benching our beloved series this spring. #OccupyGreendale)

What prompted this Conrad-esque journey up the river of insanity? Well, the Dean just received $2000 to make a new commercial promoting Greendale. The old one was an early ‘90s relic, with spandex-clad students awkwardly tossing Frisbees, exchanging high-fives and giving thumbs-up on cue and a long-since-forgotten African-American Dean touting the virtues of Greendale’s typing course — the most advanced in the southwestern Greendale area! The pastel animatics were a nice touch, though. And it was informative! It told us we could even enroll by fax.

But with a $2000 budget, Dean Pelton wasn’t going to let that early Clinton Era artifact play during late night reruns of Fantasy Island any longer. And he was going to recruit Greendale’s most serendipitously diverse study group — Hispanics excluded — to be the college’s ambassadors to TV Land. The Dean would direct, while Annie would serve as his script girl. Check that, supervisor girl. Check that, script supervisor. (I love how for decades the position really was called just “script girl.” And not just in America. I was watching the TV miniseries version of Scenes From a Marriage recently, and when Ingmar Bergman reads the production credits aloud at the end of each episode, everything he says, of course, is in Swedish. Except for when he announces the “script girl.” Yes, the Swedish for “script girl” is “script girl”!)

This was the perfect position for Annie. It called upon her latent talent for organization and slightly anal personality. As the production progressed, though, you could judge her state of mind from the number of pencils she had stuck in her hair. One pencil meant all was well and ordered in her Annie brain. Two, she’s on shaky, quasi-Stockholm Syndrome-afflicted ground. Three? It’s rabbit-hole time.

NEXT: Troy and Britta undergo a marathon hugging session, and Jeff’s identity slowly disintegrates