Community attempted to answer the age-old question when Abed enrolled in a class called “Nicolas Cage: Good or Bad?”
In celebration of Nicolas Cage’s Birthday, it’s Nicolas Cage Week for The Snooty Ushers, so naturally here’s my review of Community’s Nicolas Cage Episode.
Community Season 5, Episode 2: “Introduction To Teaching”
After disappointing ratings, Community creator Dan Harmon was relieved of his duties as show runner after the end of the third season. When the forth season ended without an increase in ratings (and a decrease in quality), it was assumed that the show had run its course. However, production company Sony Pictures managed to persuade NBC to give it one more go, allegedly with a big discount to get the episode count up and make the show more attractive and valuable in syndication. They also brought back Harmon for the fifth season, and after the first episode “Repilot”, they had all of the characters back at Greendale Community College, where they belong.
The second episode, “Introduction To Teaching”, saw Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) start teaching a Law class, and introduced Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul) as Criminology teacher Buzz Hickey. It is a very good story that involves the campus descending into a riot and Dean Pelton trying to learn Excel. However, this is Nicolas Cage Week, so what we’re really interested in the subplot, where Abed (Danny Pudi), Troy (Donald Glover), Britta (Gillian Jacobs), Annie (Alison Brie), and Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) take a class called Nicolas Cage: Good or Bad? To be honest, it’s an all-too-brief, rather slight B story that probably needed one more scene in the middle, but it makes it one of the best episodes of the latter seasons.
Drama teacher Sean Garrity (Kevin Corrigan making a welcome return after Season 2’s excellent “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design”) is teaching the 2 day course. It’s essentially a blow-off course in the fine Community tradition like Pottery, Pool, and of course the famous “Who’s The Boss?” class. In that final class studying the American sitcom of the same name, Abed had caused the tutor to quit after solving the seemingly rhetorical question. Garrity assures Abed that there is no answer to the question Nicolas Cage: Good or Bad? which of course Abed can’t accept. Garrity sets the class homework of watching 5 Cage movies (“no marathons, spread your films out”) – I guess it really is a blow-off class.
Later, the gang are watching a unnamed Cage film at Troy and Abed’s apartment, with Annie and Shirley particularly confused, saying “that was an interesting choice”. Of course, Abed needs to be able to answer the question:
“Every actor is something. Robert Downey Jr- good. Jim Belushi – bad. Jean-Claude Van Damme – the good kind of bad. Johnny Depp – the bad kind of good. There’s a spectrum, and Cage is on it. I just have to find him.”
We then see Abed with a room full of string combining every Nicolas Cage film and the connections between them (Snooty Usher Dave has a similar set-up in his loft), causing Annie and Troy to get very worried for him, especially given his history of obsession and mental illness. This leads to Abed going down the rabbit hole, and when the class reconvenes, he is driven to go full Raging Cage.
He breaks into various Cage noises, which turns into an impression, and then into, well this…
Yup. I guess there really isn’t an answer to the question.
And later on, that’s what Abed comes to realise. He is sadly throwing away his DVD collection, and when Shirley briefly tries to convert him (“I’m not going to become a Christian. I’m not even going to become a better Muslim”) he explains that he used films to understand people but…
But, when Shirley reveals her love of the Helraiser films, she explains that people aren’t simple, and that the people who show us that are important. In her religion there is a name for people like that, and there are in Abed’s as well
Community is available on Netflix now. If you haven’t watched it, well you really should.