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Basic Rocket Science 

Everyone in the study group except Abed is stuck in a crude 1980s space simulator as it is towed off campus, and Abed leads the team given the difficult assignment of bringing them home.


Anthony Russo


Dan Harmon (created by), Andy Bobrow | 1 more credit »

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Episode cast overview:
Joel McHale ... Jeff Winger
Gillian Jacobs ... Britta Perry
Danny Pudi ... Abed Nadir
Yvette Nicole Brown ... Shirley Bennett
Alison Brie ... Annie Edison
Donald Glover ... Troy Barnes
Ken Jeong ... Ben Chang
Chevy Chase ... Pierce Hawthorne
Jim Rash ... Dean Pelton
Jordan Black ... Dean Spreck
Richard McGonagle ... Sanders (voice)
Richard Erdman ... Leonard
Brady Novak ... Faculty #1
Michael Montiel Michael Montiel ... Runner


Dean Pelton decides that Greendale Community College must have its own flight simulator and cannot be bested by the competition, "City College," which is planning its own flight simulator. He enlists the study group to clean and refurbish the Greendale Community College simulator. As Jeff, Pierce, Britta, Annie, Shirley and Troy wash the tattered simulator down, they end up accidentally launching it - sending everyone on an unexpected journey into "outer space." Abed is left behind to try and navigate a safe "return" for everyone. Written by NBC Publicity

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

14 October 2010 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The opening scene where everyone walks slowly towards the camera in their uniforms is a call back to an iconic scene in the movie The Right Stuff, which tells the story of the start of the US space program. See more »


Jeff Winger: We earn the right to pick on Greendale by going there every day. Our school may be a toilet, but it's our toilet. Nobody craps in it but us.
See more »


References Scary Movie (2000) See more »


Greendale is Where I Belong
Performed by Ludwig Göransson
See more »

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User Reviews

In honor of "Community"- a review of every episode. (S2;E04- "Basic Rocket Science")
26 April 2017 | by MaximumMadnessSee all my reviews

(This is the twenty-ninth installment in an ongoing series. I am in the process of writing brief reviews of each and every episode of creator Dan Harmon's beloved cult-comedy series "Community." This project was originally conceived as a response to NBC's cancellation of the series before its renewal on Yahoo's streaming service. As this is a hobby, updates will come incrementally and it may take some time for me to complete this.)

Two thoughts really struck home with me as I re-watched the second season of "Community" and then did a little research on each and every episode online in preparation for writing these reviews. First, I was struck by the fact that looking back, as much as I loved Season One and consider it to be my personal favorite... Season Two has possibly the most objectively consistent string of hits in the history of the series. From the humble beginnings of "Anthropology 101" and "Accounting for Lawyers"... to the delightful high-concept holiday satires of "Epidemiology" and "Abed's Uncontrolled Christmas"... to icons of the series such as "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" and "Paradigms of Human Memory"... Season Two starts off on and maintains a frankly baffling high note that I don't think any subsequent season even came close to matching. Virtually every episode, with only the minor sour-note here and there, is near-perfect in execution.

And the second thought? Wow, did the critics get "Basic Rocket Science" wrong, wrong, wrong. I was completely and utterly flabbergasted to read that the reception to this episode was decidedly mixed at best. With the most common complaints seeming to revolve around the fact that the episode lacked significant character development and went "too far" at times, professional TV reviews just didn't seem to like it all that much. And I can't even understand how they could feel this way. Heck, I can't even fathom agreeing with the notion that this episode is anything less than perfect. I watched it the night of its premier along with my family. And we were all completely blown away by it. To this day, it is not only one of the most cinematic and gorgeous episodes of the series thanks to excellent visual direction... it is not only extremely funny thanks to razor-sharp writing and a brilliant high-concept parody... It is, in fact, one of my favorite episodes. And I put it right up there with "Modern Warfare" as one of the best "concept- episodes" of the entire series. Yes... it's that good.

A modern day (and very underwhelming) space-race is on between Greendale Community College and City College as both schools try to become the first in the area to have a "simulated space launch." After acquiring a 1980's children's space simulator van (licensed and sponsored by Kentucky Fried Chicken, no less), Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) puts it on the study group to clean it up on time for the scheduled "launch" as punishment for their recent shenanigans that accidentally got a... rather awkward design voted as the winner for a contest to design the school's new flag. However, the group is accidentally locked inside, and accidentally "blasts off" when the van is towed away... leaving only Abed (Danny Pudi) behind. The group must overcome obstacles and complete the simulation with Abed's help over the radio to try and get themselves free in order to make it back to the school in time in this delightful send-up to films such as "Apollo 13" and "Space Camp."

I'm not going to dispute one of the main complaints about the episode- that being the lack of character development- because it's frankly a non-issue. This isn't a character episode. This is a high- concept satire episode designed to both parody and pay loving tribute to a specific breed of films... and it does that to complete and utter perfection. Every single facet of space and astronaut related films is on full display, only ramped up considerably and played for comedy. From the slow motion shots of people walking while patriotic music blasts... to intense scenes where we see everyone at homebase staring intently at monitors... to extreme closeups of waving flags... it's all here and it's all parodied to perfection. Yes, it's over the top. But it's over the top by design, and builds off of previous similar concept episodes by raising the stakes and the insanity by a noticeable but still restrained margin. From the opening scene, the episode lets us know that for this 30 minutes of television, we've sort-of left the "real world." And thus, to me the episode never felt disappointing in the slightest for it's lack of development or whacked-out tone. It didn't go "too far", because it's not really being restrained by a real-world mentality.

Director Anthony Russo and writer Anthony Bobrow craft a deliciously amusing tale and work together splendidly, leading to one of the most unique episodes of not only the season, but the series as well. It's no surprise that Russo and his brother have gone on to become such compelling presences in the world of film. The cast is just magnificent and everyone gets their moment to shine. I was particularly taken with Jim Rash in this episode, as he gets not only a great deal of screen time, but some of the funniest gags he's had thus far in the series. ("Those aren't thumbs...") And you gotta commend KFC for being such good sports and playing along with the insanity of the story. It's just great that they (along with several other restaurant chains) were so supportive of the series.

I really can't say much else. "Basic Rocket Science" is a perfect 10. And I'll never understand the mixed critical reception it received. It's just brilliant, plain and simple.

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