Monday, September 7, 2009

Pilot Screener Review - Community

Status: Premiering Thursday, September 17th @ 9:30pm on NBC (and moving to 8pm after SNL: Weekend Update Thursday is done)

I should like the pilot for Community more than I did, which is not to say I didn't like it. I laughed. Quite a bit, actually. Of course, stick John Oliver in a few scenes as a saucy foil and I'm sure to be entertained.

I believe the issue I have with Community is with its lead, Joel McHale, who I love on The Soup. He plays a shark named Jeff here. A fast-and-smooth talking shark of a lawyer who, because of a slightly amusing (but generally implausible setup) mixup regarding his undergraduate education, must now attend and graduate from Greendale Community College or else be disbarred.

Jeff fits into NBC's Thursday night lineup of somewhere between Michael Scott and Jack Donaghy... only I think his character has the least likable qualities of each and, as such, I'm worried (for a funny show that I hope succeeds) that the audience will be turned off. He can be abrasive. He outright lies to try and sleep with a young woman (though the lie is certainly found out by the end). He wheels, deals, and manipulates people to semi-nefarious ends.

And yet... we're asked to like him.

It may be asking too much.

Jeff certainly has his redeeming moments and lovable qualities, but they are not hit on enough (or separately from his manipulations) to balance out. Favorite moment, for me, is when he encounters an older black woman in a cafeteria and, because of watching too much TV, expects her to impart sage wisdom.

Which, as above, will be a shame because there is a lot of funny to be had in this pilot, and a standout supporting performance by Danny Pudi as Abed.

I'll be watching... but the show has to fully win me over by the time it moves to 8pm, as there is a lot of competition on Thursday night.

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