Sunday, May 23, 2010

Community - Season 1

I only gave the pilot of Community a shot because it was in the middle of NBC's comedy night, though it didn't take long for it to become my favorite new show of the fall season. The problem with the advertisements is they weren't honest about what the show really was. They showed Joel McHale, a pretty funny guy but not really an actor, as a sort of jerk named Jeff who's forced back to school after his law license was revoked. There were a couple decent jokes, but not a lot to on. But the show isn't about Jeff, not really. He's the protagonist, sure, but the show is about the whole cast - a hodgepodge of misfit Spanish students who form a study group together. It may not sound like a lot, but believe me, when everyone on the show is working right it's pretty hard to beat the amount of laughter the show can produce. It might be easy to dismiss the great diversity of the group as a cloying attempt at diversity, but that's sort of the point, and they play around with it enough, and the actors are good enough, that you like them all anyway.

Not every episode of Community is a total winner, but enough of them were brilliant enough that it wasn't long before it was my most anticipated show every Thursday night. Ken Jeong as the Asian Spanish teacher and the bald dean who's overly obsessed with political correctness tend to be the ones who set the plot in motion, coming up with crazy assignments or school activities that the group have to navigate through. There's some other notable recurring characters, like John Oliver's psychology professor who Jeff pushes around at first but gets more ballsy (and drunk) later, and an antagonist fellow Spanish student played by Dino Stamatopoulos that they know only as "starburns". My two favorite characters though are Abed and Troy, two of the youngest members of the group who come from different backgrounds but turn into the best of friends. Troy is sort of the token idiot but the writing and his performance keep him more interesting than that, and Abed's obsession with pop culture usually provides what seems like the majority of the show's best jokes. The show tries to keep you invested in what girl Jeff will end up with, but I'd keep watching even if the whole thing was just the little bits of genius between Troy and Abed that close most of the episodes during the credits. I already can't wait for season two.

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