TV Review: ‘Community’

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Fans of The Soup rejoice! This week alone, we not only get punchy host Joel McHale on the E! clip show, but also in theaters alongside Matt Damon in The Informant and on the very first episode of NBC’s Community. Thankfully, the show looks like it has potential to stick around for quite some time, playing partner to other NBC hits like The Office and 30 Rock.

For those who plan on catching the premier tonight, here’s a little about the show. Community is about Jeff Winger, a lawyer with the gift of gab who gets disbarred when it’s revealed his license to practice law is all but real. He is then forced to attend community college, where he feels completely out of place among what he thinks are the old, young, and useless. Winger then meets fellow classmate Britta (Gillian Jacobs), who he becomes smitten with, a decides to give the community experience a try.

The show brings together great names like Chevy Chase, John Oliver, Joel McHale and the writer/creator of the show, Dan Harmon. You might not recognize that last one but Harmon has been a prominent name in the internet comedy community for years now. He started off writing the failed pilot Heat Vision and Jack directed by Ben Stiller and starring Jack Black and Owen Wilson, which was about a traveling astronaut and his talking motorcycle. Harmon then moved on to the internet with cult web series such as Laser Fart, as well as co-creating The Sarah Silverman Program for Comedy Central.

Though Community has some great supporting characters, the basis of the plot is all about Joel McHale and his lightning-fast wit. Making his character Jeff a master of speech and incredibly bright allows McHale to do some pretty impressive things with the dialogue. If there is one thing that this show does, it will bring McHale from cable to superstar status. There is room for the argument that Chevy Chase agreed to this role to pave the way for McHale, as he can be seen as a modern day Chase. There is even a throwaway line where Chase says Joel reminds him of a younger version of himself.

The writing is both smart and funny. There are plenty of pop references for movie and TV nerds, as well as some great character development through dialogue that you may need to watch twice to get. Overall, the show is quite well done, should play well to Middle America (because that’s where it counts in ratings) and will hopefully live a long life on NBC. At least longer than My Own Worst Enemy.

Community airs tonight (Thursday) at 9:30 EST/8:30 Central on NBC.

  • Anonymous
    September 21, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Did those who claimed the show was “hilarious,” “fresh,” et cetera actually watch the show? The characters were stereotypes used over and over. The level of humor was infantile, at best. This show insults serious students of community colleges (and there are many) and those who have dedicated their lives to teaching at that level. This show is worthless as entertainment.

  • jules
    September 18, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    Saw the pilot and thought it was hilarious! Fresh, very smart, accessible, charming and incredibly watchable cast. Will be watching next week, too. Hope it takes off!

  • Chris Ullrich
    September 18, 2009 at 2:29 am

    My reaction to the pilot was mixed. Some great jokes while others fell flat. Still, I have hope and will continue watching. . . at least for a few more weeks.

  • TeeJay
    September 17, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    Caught the pilot tonight and I though it was very funny. I’ve become a pretty big Joel McHale fan from The Soup and was looking forward to Community but with all the crappy scripted wanna be sitcoms out there I kept my expectations low so as to not be disappointed but I really enjoyed the pilot. Not only was Joel, well, being Joel the entire time but I really liked all the other characters. This show has a terrific cast. I also thought John Oliver was hilarious and I was hoping that his would be a regular character but from what I’ve read I don’t think he is. I hope Community has a much better run than the HORRIBLE Kath & Kim…..

  • Community NBC
    September 17, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    We at Community NBC are very excited about “Community”!

    • Pyewackettoo
      October 22, 2009 at 7:28 pm

      Oh really? Are you also very easily pleased?

      I saw one show in which the, er, “satire” fell flat and in so doing more than effectively managed to insult both women and homosexuals multiple times during a mere half-hour. Be certain your writers know how to write archly before you commit script to filming.

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