Last week's "Community" parody of "Law & Order" captured not only the most obvious tropes of the classic NBC drama — the split between cops and lawyers, the banter between the detectives, the key witness who drops out at the last minute, etc. — but smaller things that were just as recognizable to any hardcore "Law & Order" fan.
One of those was the familiar sight of the post-trial bull session in Adam Schiff's office (here translated into Dean Pelton's), and the way it was so often interrupted by a phone call bringing some unexpected, usually tragic, bit of news about someone from the case. In the case of "Community," it was the news that recurring character Alex "Star-Burns" Osbourne (played by Dino Stamatopoulos, a friend of Dan Harmon's who also works as a writer and consulting producer on the show) had died when the meth lab in the trunk of his car exploded.
In the context of an ordinary comedy, it was shocking. In the context of a "Law & Order" parody, it made sense — and, it turned out, came at the request of Stamatopoulos, who had gotten sick of the acting process.
Even though the death took place in the concept of a parody episode, it was very real within the Greendale universe, and will inspire much of the action of tomorrow night's episode, "Course Listing Unavailable," which includes a memorial service for Star-Burns. In addition, Abed is tasked to make a farewell video for Alex involving green screen computer effects. The finished video doesn't turn up until the episode's tag, but if you want to see it now, we've got the full clip — exclusive to HitFix for the next few hours — featuring Star-Burns at his most adventurous. (And if you want to wait to see it in context, "Course Listing Unavailable" airs tomorrow night at 8 on NBC.)