Always Watching

Pilot Review: Community

In 2009 Fall Season, 2009 Pilots, 30 Rock, Comedy, Community, Daily Show With Jon Stewart, Gilmore Girls, Greek, Law and Order SVU, Mad Men, My Name Is Earl, NBC, Parks and Recreation, Preview, Rules of Engagement, The Book of Daniel, The Office, The Soup on 08/19/2009 at 12:20 am


You know that feeling you get from a good laugh?  That feel-good feeling, like your day just got a bit brighter and maybe everything isn’t so bad?  I kinda dig that feeling.  It’s hard to get that feeling for me – I’m a glass half empty type.  It’s a curse.  My burden.  It’s something I try to work on.

Certain TV shows tend to give me that feeling.  Witty, smart comedies, mostly.  30 Rock, Better Off Ted, The Office, all currently airing shows that spring to mind.  I’m sure you’ve probably guessed by now where this is headed.  Not exactly the master of unpredictable (or even readable) writing here.

I watched the pilot of Community, a new half hour sitcom set to air on NBC this fall.  As the episode ended, my first thought was, “Wow, this will go so great with The Office and 30 Rock on NBC.”  Take note there, because that’s probably the only time, in relation to the 2009 Fall season, that I will say I’m happy about something being on NBC.  For all it’s pitfalls and blunders, NBC has always been known, and still holds on to, the title for best comedic sitcoms in my book and gets a lot of credit for giving those comedies a chance to catch on.

The series revolves around Jeff Winger, played by The Soup‘s Joel McHale  The character lands somewhere right between a hustler, a player and a seemingly nice guy.  Even with those qualities, though, I somehow ended up routing for him to succeed.  He was a lawyer, until the state bar association realized his degree came via email attachment from Columbia the country, as opposed to Columbia the school.  That’s when he was sent on his way to Greendale Community College.

Once on campus we recognize many faces from around the TV world.  There’s folks from Mad Men, The Daily Show, The Book of Daniel, Greek, Gilmore Girls, Rules of Engagement and even the aforementioned 30 Rock.  Don’t get me wrong here – we’re not talking John Hamm or Tina Fey, but you’ll probably do a double take and have to check IMDB a time or two.

The one face you will recognize, I’m sure, is Chevy Chase, movie star and Chuck villain extraordinaire.  After his run as a racist a-hole on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit a season or two ago, and then an evil billionaire on Chuck, I though maybe Mr. Chase had left his good-guy Clark Griswold days behind for darker pleasures, so I’m glad to see him back in a comedic role, even if he is a creepy old man (in an amazingly awesome sort of way, of course).  His character, Pierce, is a successful businessman who never really picked up on the concept of sexual harassment.

The show is a great change of pace.  The shows I’ve referenced so far, 30 Rock, Better Off Ted, The Office, while witty and three of the (if not the) best sitcoms currently being broadcast, all have certain common features that Community has avoided:

(a) At no time do any of the characters talk to the camera/audience.

(b) It’s not filmed in an office environment

(c) It’s not a ‘mockumentary’

(d) The lead character is not a moron, ridiculously handsome, socially awkward or overly smart

(e) In fact, he’s an anti-hero.  An oddly likable anti-hero, but still.

Will the lack of these features hurt the show?  I doubt that and for two good reasons:

(1) The fantastic writing, which doesn’t cram in quite as many jokes as 30 Rock, also avoids the downtime and awkward silences of The Office

(2) The large cast of characters whose backgrounds vary wildly, as opposed to, say, Better Off Ted, where everyone is a variation of a corporate type, or 30 Rock, where it’s a studio full of comedians

The show, I’m sure, will certainly be able to hold it’s own in the Thursday night realm of The Office and 30 Rock and just may send NBC Thursday back to ‘Must See TV’ territory.

Community premieres Thursday September 17th at 9:30pm on NBC before taking up it’s regular time slot of Thursdays at 8pm on October 8th.

P.S. If NBC had kept My Name Is Earl…Oh wow.  What a two hour block of amazingness Thursdays would have been.  Here’s hoping Parks and Recreation pick up their game a bit.

  1. […] Ok, that was only four of The Five A’s.  We’ll let you know when the fifth, A Lot Of Classes is done.  Now that you’ve watched those I’ll let you in on a little secret: Dr. Isakson is actually Dan Harmon, creator of NBC’s upcoming comedy Community.  In case you missed it, we kinda fell in love with the show when we saw the pilot. […]

  2. […] our standards.  We’ve been big fans of both the U.S. and U.K. inceptions of The Office and, since viewing the pilot, suspect we’re going to be huge fans of Community, as […]

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