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Series premiere: Community with Joel McHale and Chevy Chase

In television on 09/17/2009 at 9:39 am

Series name
Community

Debuts
Thursday, Sept. 17 at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBC

Regularly airs
Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. ET (after The Office)

Premise
Lawyer finds one of his degree has been revealed to be less than actual and so must go back to school, Greendale Community College to be exact, whereupon he spies a blonde (always with the blondes). To get close to her, he invites her to his “Spanish study group” (no brunette would ever fall for this, I’m just saying) and is startled to find that a whole  mob of, well, utter nerds, including Chevy Chase, show up. Absence of Spanish knowledge cannot kill this “community”: Yes, the theme is right there in the title!

Primary cast and crew
Joel McHale
(E!’s sarcastic celeb news show Talk Soup) as Jeff, ex-lawyer, user of lame come-on lines.
Gillian Jacobs
(The Book of Daniel) as Britta, the blonde who just wants to pass her Spanish exam.
Yvette Nicole Brown
(The Ugly Truth, Boston Legal) as Shirley, snarky “middle-age divorcee”. I’m betting she is hiding a sensitive soul. Also daggers for Chase’s character.
Danny Pudi
(Greek) as Abed, who is comically alleged to have Asperger’s Syndrome, which is not a burger for your… you know. You are SO juvenile. And so is using a syndrome for a one-liner. But I bet you’ll laugh.
Alison Brie
(Pete’s wife on Mad Men) as Annie, a so-far ill-defined brunette used to draw out the blonde’s character. Because blondes need the assist. It’s just a theory.
Chevy Chase
(Chuck, SNL) as Pierce, the oblivious bore who tries to trade on his infinite yet non-existent life wisdom and street smarts.
Donald Glover
(30 Rock) as Troy, high-school sports star casting about for a Plan B.
John Oliver
(The Daily Show) as Jeff friend and former client.
Ken Jeong
(The Hangover) as Señor Chang, Spanish professor. Of course
Dan Harmon
(The Sarah Silverman Program) is creator/exec producer and Joe and Anthony Russo (Arrested Development) are exec producers

Buzz buzz
McHale is popping up everywhere to promote this show. Nice smile, if a bit bright this early in the morning, right now on NBC’s Today show, as I write this.

But what do I know anyway? After having NOT seen the pilot I predict…
Shall I jinx this utterly by saying this looks too good to fail? The 4 minute 20 second trailer is about a quarter of the pilot and it looks very funny, even when you see it coming a mile off (the previously alluded-to Asperger’s joke), I still laughed out loud. But then again, I’ve just had a couple of espressos and this always makes me a little susceptible to sitcoms that create small artificial family groups that are loveable in their eccentricities. I do have a worry though, which means I need another dopio espresso: Chase is working my bad nerve with what, for him, is an all-too-familiar character: the socially oblivious bore. If the show writers and execs give and/or force this character to punch out the sides of its box, they might have something here.

Other reviews
New Jersey Star-Ledger’s Alan Sepinwall loves it: “I’ve seen the pilot episode at least four times already, in whole or in parts, and I laugh just as hard at the jokes now as I did the first time.”

Chuck Barney at the Chicago Tribute calls it a “Grade A” comedy.

Tim Goodman at the San Francisco Chronicle says McHale’s character and the pilot in general are strong, but says: “What may be harder for Community to pull off going forward is the feel-good notion of outcasts coming together.”

Official website
Cast/character bios and photos, videos that Canadians cannot watch (b’stards) and — shame! shame! — promising-looking categories Exclusives, Games and Take It that all come up “Coming soon!”. Hello! The show starts today.

Twitter
Kinda blah.

Facebook
Apparently the music playing in the background of all the promos is by Brooklyn’s Matt and Kim (who are playing Pop Montreal on Sept. 30. It’s called Good Ol’ Fashioned Nightmare and you can listen here.

Can’t wait for the next new-series preview?
Bored to Death some time before its Sunday premiere.

Wondering when the other new series and returning series are kicking off?
Click here for my select list of fall 2009 premieres and other important dates. Who am I to tell you what to do, but you could consider bookmarking it…

— Denise Duguay

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