Friday, October 2, 2009

"Community" Tries Hard to Please on NBC

A clever and mostly pleasant comedy premiered on NBC last week brought to us by Joe and Anthony Russo of "Arrested Development" fame. Airing Thursdays at 9:30pm, Community is an ensemble of quirky characters set at a local community college. The cast is mixed but interesting. Joel McHale anchors the effort as Jeff, the self centered smarty pants lawyer forced to return to college when his degree is discovered to be a sham. Simultaneously amusing and annoying is Dani Pudi as Abed, the Arab-American pop culture nerd with a serious case of ADD. The stereotypical angry middle aged divorcee (Shirley) is capably rendered by Yvette Brown. Chevy Chase stars as Pierce, a sage senior who is in every class and we are never really sure why. Chase is brilliantly underplaying his former star persona in this series. He is subtle, eccentric and a true team player. Last night's episode in which he tried to teach a fellow student how to "sneeze like a man" was genius.

One of the funniest characters in the series is Senor Chang, a Chinese American Spanish teacher played by Ken Jeong, who stole the show on the hit summer movie comedy, "The Hangover". Note to NBC---make sure Senor Chang is in every episode, he brings the most humor and energy.

Rounding out the cast is Gillian Jacobs as Britta, the obligatory pretty blond which, based on a 50 year old rule, must appear in every television sitcom. She's light as a feather and so far not especially memorable.

This series might be a diamond in the rough if the writing stays sharp. It's definitely a worthy lead-out for The Office and 30 Rock on Thursday nights.

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