A Quick Pitch for the Community Movie.

Gonna be real up-front about this — this needs a lot of work. A couple years ago I wrote a Rick and Morty spec script which took me four months and it still needs writer’s room punch up. I’m not gonna spend that much time on this. But I think about the work Dan Harmon has collaborated on quite a bit. Mostly because he strikes me as a classically good writer. Modern literary celebrity basically no longer exists (I point to 2016, the year Bob Dylan won the Nobel, as the final nail in the coffin) but good writing still shines in the realm of popular media. At least I have found much pleasure and comfort re-watching Community episodes.

Which is what lead me to a question that I don’t think has been properly explored in the Community-verse. In season 2 they bring back a character named Rich. Rich is ostensibly a doctor (though the only doctor skills he’s ever shown are basic compassion and temperature taking in the Halloween episode). We first meet Rich in season 1 taking Jeff’s blow-off pottery class. The joke at the end of that episode is that Rich is doing a devious internal monologue, perhaps even more messed up than the one Jeff is doing inside his head. In season 2 Rich joins their anthropology class for an episode. He was doing volunteer work with Annie and says “that she made it sound so fun I just had to check it out.” Jeff of course assumes its about Annie. Obviously he’s as interested in Annie as she is in him. Yet the end of the episode offers a reveal. Rich wasn’t interested in Annie, “she’s too young.” So why the fuck was he in that anthropology class?

Seriously. He’s ostensibly supposed to be a doctor with about a hundred other hobbies. If it wasn’t about Annie … who or what was it about? The answer falls quickly into your lap. Jeff, obviously.

At the end of the episode in season 2, Jeff goes running in the rain to Rich’s apartment where he pleads with him to teach him how to appear better so he can exploit it. Yeah it’s a joke, but you can take it farther.

I picture it as basically a Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy parody. Rich works for the FBI (I’d actually prefer if it was the CIA — BUT at the end of the series it’s already been established that Annie is going into the FBI, so tie-ins there without having to sweat and there’s also the realism aspect. CIA isn’t legally supposed to operate on US soil.) Rich has been cultivating Jeff as an asset. Rich has always been the best liar in the room and he knows its value. When he hears in the news about a winning attorney who lied his way into one of the best law firms in town, Rich knows this guy’s a born operative. But good assets have to be groomed. The better the asset the longer the grooming period.

Most of the meaningful people in Jeff’s life have left Colorado.

In Los Angeles I picture Abed’s sitcom falling apart terribly but he refuses to give up now that he’s got a taste of fame. Britta goes down to help him out (she has nothing better to do) and winds up accidentally getting cast in a soap opera. This begins a new obsession for Abed. Soap opera’s are the truest form of TV. We might open on them in their apartment doing a bit: “So that’s what this was all about, trying to frame me for the death of your twin sister.” Abed just likes to pretend and Britta indulges it because now she takes acting really really seriously (even though she’s like the lowest form of actor, you get it.)

I also think there might be some potential in making Troy a Kanye West parody. He’s invested his millions of dollars accidentally well and now he has hundreds of millions. And he’s starting to lose his mind. As I said in the beginning — I’m not putting months of effort into this thing.

So let’s quickly return to the main plot.

We see Jeff and Rich having lunch in a dark ornamental Chinese restaurant. They’re comfortable with each other. As the others have left Jeff’s life, Rich has become more and more important. Honestly, I was doing a false thing trying to set a scene just there — I figure there’s a bunch of different ways you could go about this.

Rich is killed and Jeff tries to find out why.

Rich gives Jeff a seemingly innocuous task that goes very wrong.

Jeff takes a freelance legal case and Rich tells Jeff to stop digging around in it, raising suspicion.

Jeff is approached by another agent who mistakes Jeff for already being involved in an operation.

Rich has been using Jeff’s office at Greendale as a dead drop.

If one really wants to go weird with it: Greendale is secretly a government program designed to test the human mind (this one is probably too Hitchhiker’s Guide.)

Jeff, after years of putting up with the Dean’s nonsense, starts a coup. He enlists Rich’s help — which comes with unforeseen strings.

The Dean’s coverup of the School Board’s malfeasance is dug up by an investigative reporter …. You see how you could come up with a thousand of these.

But the main beats are Jeff=Liar. Rich=Liar. I think the most fun stuff to write would be fourth wall breaking jokes where Jeff starts questioning the reality of all things. He flies out to Los Angeles in search of Abed’s help — the one who maybe had the answers all along. For some reason I can’t stop picturing him sitting on the airplane reading Timequake. It all has to happen again. He has to recreate it from day one and this time he’ll see what he missed. Maybe Troy’s developed a super advanced artificial reality in an attempt to recreate The Imaginatorium.

Has Annie had her own secrets with Rich this whole time?

Sorry, told ya at the top — this is left with more questions than answers.

But maybe you’ll think of something fun.

Happy Holidays.

Written by

Podcast: Western Thought. Writes literary fiction. His audiobook The Town of Books; first chapter. https://www.mixcloud.com/jondrist/town-of-books-chapter-1/

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