Community

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Community: the next NBC Thursday night hit?

In the pantheon of popular sitcoms ranging from Seinfeld to Cheers to Everybody Loves Raymond, most began with an undeniably rocky ratings start. The same may be true for the up and coming series Community, the new Thursday night lead-in for NBC. Centered around a snarky, attractive ex-lawyer, Jeff Winger (Joel McHale, The Soup), who is forced to return to a local community college in order to be able to practice law once again, the show pieces together an eclectic assemblage of characters in a way not done since The Breakfast Club. While each student has been brought to Greendale C. C. for unrelated reasons, they form an unbreakable bond through a Spanish study group, as each member contributes a unique persona to the group dynamic. From the aging moist towelette tycoon portrayed by Chevy Chase to the Asperger’s-afflicted movie guru, Abed, each has staked a definite niche in the group, and the combination functions flawlessly in producing laughs. Add to the awkward band of characters a setting consisting of a pathologically unhinged Spanish teacher and a school revolving on a gender-neutral spandex-covered “human being” mascot, and the comedic fruit is ripe for the taking.

But the show’s appeal arises from more than just the superb casting and orchestrated chemistry. The single defining element that elevates the comedy above the likes of Parks and Recreation and The Office is the seamless, rapid-fire barrage of wit. The torrent of quick jokes, one-liners, and pop culture references necessitates two or three viewings before all can be fully appreciated. Very rarely have writers been able to so well manipulate a storyline to facilitate such effortless humor, and it is a testament to their comedic genius that Chevy Chase was so persuaded by the writing that he signed onto the cast.

Despite the impressive scripting, Community has not been without problems. The producers have struggled with character development at times, making Britta, the central female personality and potential love interest of Jeff, more unlikeable than originally intended. In addition, every fourth or fifth episode seems to be slightly off-kilter, disturbing a consistent pacing through a season that a viewer might hope for.

But the promise is still there. The premise is chock-full of potential, and the rookie show is poised to find its stride just as it enters the May sweeps. It should surprise few if, five years from now, Community has usurped The Office as the dominant comedy on Thursday night.





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