NBC's newest sitcom, "Community," has some big names and a lot of well-deserved buzz. Joel McHale, the popular host of E!'s "The Soup," is undoubtedly the star of the show, but "Community" also features a beloved comedy legend who is ripe for a comeback: Chevy Chase.
McHale (above, with Danny Pudi) plays Jeff, an attorney whose undergraduate degree from Columbia (the country, not the school) is deemed illegitimate, so he must get a new degree in order to resume practicing law.
But of course, being the amoral jerk that he is, he tries to cheat his way through with the aid of a former client and psych professor played by Jon Oliver of "The Daily Show" (who thankfully, is only in the pilot).
Mostly, Jeff crushes on a girl in his Spanish class who looks like Elisabeth Shue (Gillian Jacobs), and convinces her to spend time with him by pretending to be the leader of a fake Spanish study group.
Word gets out about the study group and a comical bunch of misfits end up crashing Jeff's little party. After fits and starts, they all end up as buddies and the first 'community college cross section sitcom gang' is born.
Chevy Chase is part of that diverse gang. Chase plays retired CEO "Pierce Hawthorne, as in Hawthorne Wipes, the award-winning moist towelette." Chase is not over-the-top or overly silly (unlike Jon Oliver) and strikes the perfect tone for the show. I'm hoping for lots of Chevy Chase on "Community."
Also funny is Pudi who plays Abed, a super-talkative movie/TV buff who constantly reminds everyone that their group is a little like "The Breakfast Club." In fact, Abed often communicates through movie references or quotes, and tells Jeff at a critical point in the pilot: "I thought you were like Bill Murray in any of his films, but you're like Michael Douglas in any of his films."
What a great line.
Donald Glover plays the former high school jock still clinging to his glory days, and who once calls McHale's character "Seacrest," which is hilarious if you watch "The Soup." Yvette Nicole Brown is the middle-aged single mom divorcé, and Alison Brie plays the paranoid, high-strung high school grad who didn't get into a "real" college.
"Community" is a fresh sitcom with great writing, which is to say, it's no "Two and Half Men." There's no laugh track and there are no 1-2-3-punchline jokes. So if that's your sitcom preference, you probably won't enjoy this too much. But if you like comedies that build slowly and have great writing, like "The Office," "30 Rock" and "Parks & Recreation", definitely give it a shot.
"Community" airs on NBC, Thursday nights at 9:30pm after "The Office."