Documentary Filmmaking Redux Dean Pelton

Documentary Filmmaking: Redux
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Director: Joe RussoWriter: Megan GanzAired: November 17, 2011 —Season: Three — Number: Eight
Summary: Dean Pelton is asked by the school board to film a new commercial for Greendale Community College; Abed films all the activities for a documentary.


The Dean had his seventh epiphany today which has given me an epiphany of my own: The Dean is a genius...he has to be, if he isn't then I've given almost two weeks of my life to an idiot. That is unacceptable! Therefore the Dean IS a genius and I WILL DIE protecting his vision!
Dean Pelton plays the current, and woefully outdated, Greendale TV commercial in the study room. He explains that the school board has given him $2000 to make a new ad, and he wants to feature members of the study group. Reluctantly, Jeff agrees to help out. Abed has chosen to film a documentary about the Dean's attempt to film the commercial, guessing it will be more interesting than the commercial itself. Pierce threatens to stay in his trailer out of protest when Dean Pelton tells him the shoot will not be catered. When he finds out there won't be any trailers, he promises to rent his own.

3x08-Old Promo8
Go Greendale, go Greendale, GO!
On Day One, Dean Pelton introduces the script with the help of his "script supervisor", Annie. Troy, Shirley, Britta, and Jeff rehearse their lines. Troy and Britta hug to exemplify the friendship and diversity of the student body. Shirley represents budget-conscious parents who attend Greendale. Jeff plays the Dean with the aid of a bald cap and glasses. He intentionally overacts his part in an attempt to get cut from the production. Instead, Dean Pelton falls in love with Jeff's character. In the parking lot, Pierce's rented trailer is delivered and he begins his holdout over the lack of trailers and catering.

3x08-Chang understudy
Jeff begins his shoot in front of the Luis Guzmán statue. Jeff suggested the location so that he could tell Guzmán's lawyer that Guzmán's image is being used without permission, making all of Jeff's scenes unusable. In the cafeteria, Dean Pelton struggles to direct Shirley to be more "sassy" without resorting to the cliche "sassy black woman." As Day One ends, the Dean prepares to wrap the production, having gotten all the footage he needs, when he receives a call from Luis Guzmán. Jeff's plan has backfired and Luis offers to be a part of the commercial, though he can't make it to Greendale right away.

3x08-Luis Guzman statue
Greendale's most famous alumnus.
Pelton immediately scraps the entire first day of shooting in order to rewrite the script to be worthy of a production featuring Luis Guzmán. Nobody is happier than Jeff until the Dean tells him that he will be getting even more screen time. Everyone is initially optimistic and excited by the news but quickly question the need to start from scratch. Abed notes that this is the first step towards the Dean's inevitable self-destruction.

S03E08-Dean slide starts
Everything that we shot so far is worthless!
Day Two of shooting sees the production take over the whole campus. Classes are canceled and school resources, including the students, are conscripted to work on the commercial. Now that he has "a real big-time celebrity" on board, the Dean shows up acting like his idea of a hot shot Hollywood director. His new script contains inscrutable notes like "be a book, reading a book." When he arrives on set, wearing an unzipped hoodie with no shirt and camo pants, he hands Annie an orange explaining that it's "Scene four."

3x08-Dean Pelton outfit 2
Just like a real director.
In his office, Dean Pelton shares his plan to use the potentially explosive topic of race to take everything to the next level. In his absurd pursuit of perfection he forces Britta and Troy to film take after take of their hug until they can't bear to touch each other By the end the crew resorts to the use of ropes to move their arms into a hug. Britta tells the camera that she and Troy are so psychologically damaged that she doesn't even know whats happening and instinctively moves in to hug Troy only to have the negative reflex from the traumatic shoot kick in and they jerk apart, crying. With the whole day spent filming other scenes, Jeff is annoyed that he has to wear the bald cap for no reason.

3x08-Britta Troy hug
Let the healing begin.
The shoot drags on four more days, and $9,642 over budget, as the Dean tries to bring his bizarre vision to the screen. As Shirley films her scene Garrett tries to use a motion capture suit to emulate a microscope. Ben Chang seems to be the only one getting into the spirit of things as the self-proclaimed understudy of Jeff portraying the Dean which requires him to wear a Jeff wig under his bald cap. On the eighth day of production the school board checks in to see what is taking so long. When pushed to finish quickly Dean Pelton refuses to compromise, putting his job on the line if the board isn't satisfied with the commercial.

3x08-Dean Pelton newspaper 4
Pelton makes headlines.
On Day Nine the shoot is going strong but is clearly taking a toll. Annie has invested so much time to fulfilling the Dean's vision that she is unable to question him lest she have to face the fact that she has wasted nearly two weeks of her life. Abed diagnoses her with Stockholm Syndrome. Shirley is so fed up that she envies that Pierce has managed to avoid being involved. Meanwhile, Pierce commandeers a trailer that was delivered for Luis Guzmán and continues his holdout over the catering.

3x08-Annie stockholm syndrome
Stockholm Annie.
Things come to a head when Jeff is finally called to the set on Day Twelve. Dean Pelton feels that the bald cap looks phony and instructs Jeff to take it off. Jeff refuses and the Dean throws him off the set. Britta can't take it any longer and yells at Dean Pelton for taking things too far. Annie then agrees that the Dean has gone insane. Dean Pelton remains intractable and tells everyone to leave if they don't want to be there. As the fog literally clears, the Dean is alone in the dressed up cafeteria.

3x08-Jeff Dean Pelton Chang
What is reality?
Luis Guzmán arrives at Greendale to find the campus empty. He wanders around and encounters Dean Pelton, who leads Guzmán into his office. Pelton plays the commercial he has been editing which turns out to be an incoherent mess. Abed interviews Guzmán, who explains that he had to back out of the commercial. Dean Pelton finds Guzmán and is outraged that he backed out of the commercial but is willing to film a confessional for Abed's documentary. Guzmán realizes that Pelton is ashamed of Greendale and encourages him to worship the school and its students rather than those who leave Greendale. A broken man, the Dean films his own confessional and apologizes for how he has treated the school. Having graduated from a university he felt a duty to better Greendale but instead he found that Greendale accepted him despite his flaws. The audio plays over footage of Dean Pelton burning his university degree, stripping naked, and rubbing the ashes on his skin.

S03E08-Guzman worse than crazy
You're worse than crazy.
Dean Pelton has composed himself by the time the school board representatives arrive and apologetically introduces what he assumes will be his confession video. But, when he presses play, an upbeat and professional-looking commercial is shown on the screen. The Dean is confused but the the board members are satisfied and leave. Dean Pelton asks Abed, who is still filming, what happened. Abed admits that he put the commercial together mostly from footage from the first day of shooting. He then explains to the camera that just by shooting the documentary he was affecting the story so he didn't think fixing the commercial for the Dean was any more of an interference. As the group finishes watching Abed's documentary in the study room, Dean Pelton enters and asks for their forgiveness. Jeff reassures him that everyone at Greendale has made mistakes and everyone moves in for a group hug. After the group hug is over, everyone but Abed, Britta and Troy leave. Abed is concerned that Troy and Britta are unaware the hug is over and are still embracing each other.

Group hug
The study group forgives Dean Pelton.

End tagEdit

Pierce's trailer has been taken to Hollywood where he exits angrily in front of the new occupant, Jeff Garlin. Pierce steals Garlin's granola bar and runs of. Garlin demands a new trailer and granola bar from an intern.

Recurring themesEdit


  • First appearance: Two members of the Greendale Board of Directors appear together for the first time in this episode. Richie Countee appeared without Carl Bladt in Basic Rocket Science.
  • Returning students: Neil, Magnitude, Garrett and Leonard make appearances. Neil is "a book, reading a book", Garrett is a CGI microscope but can't get the motions right.
  • History lesson: It's revealed that Dean Pelton graduated from Appomattox University. Appomattox is the site of Robert E. Lee's surrender to Ulysses S. Grant ending the American Civil War.
  • School supplies:
  • This must be the place: Group Study Room F, the lounge, the cafeteria and Dean Pelton's office are all seen in this episode.
  • Middle Eastern Magic 8 Ball:
    • Troy and Britta continue hugging after the group hug breaks, unaware that they are the only ones still doing so. This is just one in a series of decreasingly subtle hints at their growing romantic attraction.
    • The two members of the Greendale Board of Directors comment that they want more of the crazy Asian guy, referencing Chang. This is foreshadowing of their infatuation with Chang later in season and their part in helping him ascend to control the school.
  • Discontinuity: A caption names one of the board members as "Eugene Johnston" but the character's name is later given as Richie Countee.

Running gagsEdit

  • Attention students!: The Dean makes casting call announcements.
  • Come sail away!: Troy loses it after filming 12 hours of a hugging scene with Britta.
  • Deanotation: Uncharacteristically, Jeff utters numerous examples in his role as Dean:
    • Welcome to Deandale Community Colle-dean!
    • Deanily Doo!
    • Just Dean it!
    • Dean Machine.
    • Got Dean?
    • Lights. Camera. Dean!
    • The Gazette Journal Mirror uses "DEAN-SASTER" and "IN-DEAN-FINITELY" in its headlines.
  • Sexy voice: "The word he's looking for is sassy. He better pray he don't find it." -Shirley
  • Shut up, Leonard!: After Jeff indicates he's always willing to go the extra mile to avoid work, Leonard interrupts saying "Like sex with women". Jeff tells Leonard to shut up and that he smells like mentholyptus.
  • That's you: Jeff does an overly flamboyant impersonation of Dean Pelton hoping that it will cause him to be fired from the commercial.

Pop culture referencesEdit

  • IMDb:
    • The relative merits of Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse and Apocalypse Now are briefly compared by both Abed and Luis Guzmán.
    • Luis Guzmán mentions that he was in Boogie Nights.
    • A literal reference to IMDB : When on the phone to Luis Guzmán, Dean Pelton says, "I loved you in..." but is unable to finish the sentence and snaps his fingers at Annie, who searches the internet on her phone. She doesn't get far enough however, because Pelton reads off it and ends up blurting, " IMDB." 
    • The orange that Pelton hands to Annie is a reference to Apocalypse Nowdirector Francis Ford Coppola's other epic film, The Godfather. In that film oranges always appear on screen just before someone suffers a brush with death.
  • Shout out:
  • Use your allusion: Dean Pelton's direction of Britta and Troy to "Tear down those walls" is an echo of when US President Ronald Reagan challenged the head of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, to destroy the Berlin Wall: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!".

Meta referencesEdit

  • Homage: The episode format of a documentary about the making of a film is taken from Hearts of Darkness, itself a documentary about the making of Apocalypse Now. Abed makes the connection explicit early on. Additionally, Jeff and Dean Pelton both have moments reminiscent of scenes from Apocalypse Now. Annie's behavior is also reminiscent of Dennis Hopper's sycophantic photographer character in Apocalypse Now.
  • Parody: Several characters, especially Dean Pelton and Jeff, spoof on the occasionally outrageous behavior of cast and crew members of major motion pictures.
  • Up against the wall: Early in the episode, when told about the documentary being filmed later, Britta asks, "If we're shooting this weekend, why are these cameras here?" while pointing towards the cameras filming the show.



Ever seen Hearts of Darkness? Way better than Apocalypse Now.Abed
Pierce Hawthorne, screen of stage and star, will not leave this trailer until he gets a trailer. And then I'm not leaving that trailer until there's catering!Pierce
I've become a stranger to myself. I'm bald now. I've always been bald. I merely dreamt of having hair. And now the bald man is awake.Jeff
To meet different people.Britta
Stop saying I'm different!Troy
I come here to shoot this commercial. That's what you had written in the script.Luis Guzmán
That script was terribleDean Pelton
I thought it was pretty good.Luis Guzmán
Of course you'd think that. You went HERE!Dean Pelton
It's good. You know what, better than good. Good enough.Board Member #1
Season Three Episodes

1. "Biology 101"
2. "Geography of Global Conflict"
3. "Remedial Chaos Theory"
4. "Competitive Ecology"
5. "Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps"
6. "Advanced Gay"
7. "Studies in Modern Movement"
8. "Documentary Filmmaking: Redux"
9. "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism"
10. "Regional Holiday Music"
11. "Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts"

12. "Contemporary Impressionists"
13. "Digital Exploration of Interior Design
14. "Pillows and Blankets"
15. "Origins of Vampire Mythology"
16. "Virtual Systems Analysis"
17. "Basic Lupine Urology"
18. "Course Listing Unavailable"
19. "Curriculum Unavailable"
20. "Digital Estate Planning"
21. "The First Chang Dynasty"
22. "Introduction to Finality"

Community season 3 dvd

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