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How Community Paved the Way For KFC's Lifetime Mini Movie

  • Just as they planned it, the internet is agog over yesterday's news that Kentucky Fried Chicken has partnered with Lifetime to air the Colonel Sanders-themed movie spoof A Recipe for Seduction, starring Mario Lopez as a sexy Sanders ("Stupid sexy Sanders!" as Homer Simpson might say). 

    And while this whole project has the air of, well, an advertising stunt, it's not the first time KFC has wormed its way into pop culture consciousness. It's possible they learned the art of spoofing from their involvement with the "Basic Rocket Science" episode from Season 2 of Community back in 2010. 

    That episode, directed by Anthony Russo (Avengers: Endgame), was a riff on Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff featuring that saw the Greendale Community College study group getting stuck in an outdated 1980s space simulator that was built into a Winnebago, which then gets towed away.

    Its theme was the "Kentucky Fried Chicken 11 Herbs and Space Experiment," featuring an A.I. reminiscent of HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, but named S.A.N.D.E.R.S. and visualized by an "Atari cartridge" version of Col. Sanders head. When Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase) gets a concussion, he also starts claustrophobically hallucinating that S.A.N.D.E.R.S. is his father, and that formed the basis for the actual appearance of Cornelius Hawthorne (Larry Cedar) when he showed up 9 episodes later. The episode included details like "the Buttermilk Nebula," gauges for "flavor heading," and Chang (Ken Jeong) making a point of eating Doublicious sandwiches and blatantly calling out the product integration.

    This wasn't the only time Community would do this sort of thing. In the Season 3 episode "Digital Explorations of Interior Design," guest-star Travis Schuldt plays a "corpo-humanoid" who waived his birth identity and contractually represents Subway restaurants in human form, but then has an illicit tryst with Britta (Gillian Jacobs) that becomes a spoof of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and also makes the title of the episode into a very dirty reference. 

    Community, created by Dan Harmon (Rick & Morty) ran for six seasons. During the run of the show, it was often under threat of cancellation, so when they made a joke about NBC's The Cape running for "six seasons and a movie" (it only lasted 10 episodes), that became a rallying cry for its cult following to keep the show alive. Fans still patiently await the much-talked-about reunion movie.

    The cast recently did a charity table read that actually included Donald Glover, the guy who left the show in Season 5 to become the star of Atlanta and major crossover music star Childish Gambino, and since he said he'd be open to a movie, it suddenly seems like a real thing that's possible. Stay tuned.

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    Andy Hunsaker has a head full of sitcom gags and nerd-genre lore, and can be followed @AndyHunsaker if you're into that sort of thing.

    TOPICS: Community, Anthony Russo, Chevy Chase, Dan Harmon, Donald Glover, Gillian Jacobs, Larry Cedar, Travis Schuldt, KFC