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'Community' recap: Chevy Chase in the spotlight

January 28, 2011 |  8:00 am

Community 213pic Giant bees, drug references and Chevy Chase -– it’s like the ’70s all over again. All we need is the rest of the Not Ready for Prime Time Players and we’d have the makings of a classic “Saturday Night Live” skit, although not nearly as funny in this case. Maybe you had to be there.

Anyway, Annie (Alison Brie) gathers the Greendale gang for an anti-drug play. The dress rehearsal buzz starts with the suitably striped Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi) trading dialogue. Enter Pierce (Chase), dressed as a giant marijuana leaf, demanding lines, any lines. You see, in the ’50s, he was “the Gerber baby of moist towelettes” and he wants his part here beefed up. Into the midst of this “Community” chaos bursts Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) in his own bee costume. Does he want to join the Greendale Anti-Drug Players? Not at all -- he’s headed for the airport Ramada. Why? One can only imagine.

Chang (Ken Jeong) wanders through with a mixtape for Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) -- “I hope you like Johnny Gill” --  after all, he may or may not be the father of her unborn child. Shirley wants to forget that their Halloween hookup ever happened and pretends he’s invisible. And not because he’s Chinese, but because he’s crazy. Good call there, Shirley.

Britta (Gillian Jacobs), meanwhile, has been getting text messages from a guy, but she is so 20th century and not into the whole flirting-by-text scene. She unwisely leaves her cellphone within easy reach of her favorite verbal sparring partner, Jeff (Joel McHale), who pretends he’s Britta and starts replying to a guy named Marcus. It being Jeff, the messages are on the risqué side. As are Marcus’ replies. Uh, oh.

Pierce catches Annie digging soda cans out of the Greendale trash, follows her to the recycler and then to her tiny apartment, a “monument to self-reliance” that is located above a “marital aids store.” Turns out her mom cut her off when she went through rehab and she’s short on rent money. The well-heeled Pierce whips out his checkbook and Annie accepts. Bad move, Annie. Pierce is soon rewriting the whole play, and what can Annie do but let him?

And then we’re on to the main event, with the Greendale Ready for Prime Time Players spreading their drug-free message to a bunch of bored middle-schoolers armed with baseballs and hopped up on Charleston Chews from the college candy machines. Among them is Britta’s young nephew Marcus. Oops! Cool Cat Jeff tries to fix things with Marcus, even texting him as he’s lying “dead” in a coffin, as Abed and Troy buzz "Taps." By the way, the best line of the night goes to Dean Pelton: “Well, that answers my question. Jeff Winger is sexy, even in a coffin.”

Could things get any wackier? Let’s ask Pierce, who’s added sparklers and a rainbow wig to his marijuana get-up and taken over the show, much to the delight of the kids, who are soon yelling, “I love you, Drugs!” and “We want Drugs!” Backstage, the gang discovers that Pierce bought his way in and that Annie sold out her message. So Annie fires Pierce and the gang fires Annie.

Drama or no drama, the show must go on -– and it’s Chang to the rescue with an over-the-top anti-drug message. But the kids aren’t buying it and quickly turn on him. Somehow, Dean Pelton puts a good spin on all this anarchy, congratulating Annie on her chemical-dependency program. Oh, and is there any way he can have the bee costumes? Then it’s apologies all around and Jeff buys Marcus’ silence. By the way, has anybody seen Britta’s bra?

Extra credit: It’s 2 a.m. and Annie’s trying to get some shut-eye. But that’s impossible when you live above Dildopolis and the night-owl deals are being broadcast on a loudspeaker. Cinnamon biscotti, anyone?

As episodes go, this one was so-so. It was a nice nod to Chase’s past on “SNL” and it had some good bits, but overall it left me flat. Maybe if I were more of a fan of Chase -– he was my least favorite in his era on “SNL” and he's my least favorite on “Community” -- I’d feel different. What do you think? 

-- Alison Dingeldein

Photo: Donald Glover, left, Chevy Chase and Danny Pudi on "Community." Credit: Chris Haston / NBC