The most recent episode of NBC's comedy series Community ("G.I. Jeff") was a wonderful pardoy/homage of Hasbro's G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero cartoon and toyline from the 1980s. While there were many jabs taken at the Joes (my favorite of which lampshaded the silliness of the COBRA twins Tomax & Xamot), the effort taken in working with Hasbro to make the episode a true tie-in of sorts created a tone that felt much closer to "loving" than "mocking."
From top to bottom, the Community team put far more into this than they likely needed to. Plenty of actual Joe characters and vehicles appear, and the overall presentation in terms of animation and sound design is highly reminiscent of the original show. They even hired some of the original actors like Michael Bell, the voice of Duke! After checking out discussion threads on websites like YoJoe and HissTank, it seems the effort has been quite well received by G.I. Joe fans, even those not amongst Community's regular viewership.
Not only did the episode look and feel similar to the original Joe cartoon, it featured some incredibly amusing nods to the series' toy commercials as well. I won't spoil the episode if you have yet to check it out, but at some point there's an advertisement for the central Community cast as "The Mutineers," a subgroup that makes me think back to the likes of the Dreadnoks or Ninja Force:
As a fan of both Community and G.I. Joe, I absolutely loved this. I couldn't help wishing I could own a set of Mutineer figures for real! Since I can't actually have that right now, I wanted to at least see what it might look like. The end result: Photoshopped mock-ups of the "G.I. Joe: Mutineers" action figures in packaging!
I had fairly limited material to work with, but the end result is quite fun! I love imagining these as actual products hanging alongside the likes of Cobra Commander and Snake Eyes. Even if that day never comes, I really enjoyed the "G.I. Jeff" episode. Between the iffy-at-best movies, struggling toylines, and waning television presence, the G.I. Joe property isn't exactly at a high point right now. I'm truly thankful to Community for finally giving us something Joe-related to smile about again.