Thursday, September 17, 2009

Community, "Pilot": Nobody puts Abed in the corner!

I raved about the premiere of "Community" in Tuesday's column, but what did you guys think?

Also, I'm curious if they left in the "Dirty Dancing" joke or punted it in light of Patrick Swayze's recent passing.

73 comments:

Drew Sarver said...

I thought it was pretty bad, though the last 2-3 minutes was good. It just wasn't that funny.

They did leave the line about "nobody puts baby in a corner" in, but it was very subtle.

Blue said...

Not sure what all the fuss is about. It's okay, I tried hard to like it. I can see its potential, but has a way to go.

Melinda said...

They left in both the Dirty Dancing joke and the Breakfast Club jokes. It made for a very weird runner. It took me a second to realize they couldn't have written it that way on purpose.

At the end they dedicated the show to John Hughes' memory, which was nice.

Mark said...

I enjoyed it. I laughed as hard at Abed's "am I deaf?!" as I did at the end of The Office.

Figgsrock2 said...

Really, really good. First sitcom pilot I've liked since Arrested D. Glad you raved about it, because I never would think to watch a new NBC show.

Ryan said...

Pretty meh. The hardest I laughed was when Abed quoted Bender. McHale's a little too much for me. I do like Alison Brie (Trudy from Mad Men), though, maybe she can have the career once earmarked for Judy Greer.

Lisa Holton said...

I loved it. John Oliver has found a proper home. If the writing holds up next week, it's a keeper. It officially joins "Glee" and "Chuck" on my favorites list then.

J said...

I don't know, man. There were some funny lines but this thing tries awful hard. Because of its time slot I'll definitely give it a couple more chances. Hopefully it will settle down a lot.

The pop culture references were okay as far as acknowledging a Breakfast Club thing (helped by the Simple Minds redo and the Hughes dedication), but I hope that's their end. It's a cheap condescending shortcut that's being used way too many places to replace actual content.

Sloansy said...

That was a bit of a letdown, but I chalk it up to inflated expectations due to every TV critic gushing over the show. It was a pilot, and most comedy pilots are not very funny (this one blew the Office pilot and 30 Rock pilot out of the water) so this show still has a good chance of being very good, but a kind of meh start.

I did love how taking Trudi Campbell out of Mad Men's clothing and gigantic hats de-aged her by a solid 10 years. On Mad Men she looks near 30, in this, she could easily pass for 19.

Anonymous said...

I liked it! I was afraid that all the positive reviews had raised my expectations too high, and maybe that very fear countered my high expectations, but it's my favorite new show this season so far. (Not that there have been many to see yet, but after two episodes I gave up on Glee, which is the other one everyone's raving about.)

only mostly dead said...

I've seen the pilot three times -- once on facebook, once on Roku, and then airing live -- and it was hilarious all three times. Maybe it's my unabashed crush on Joel McHale, but I find the show hilarious. (Any reference to "Smoke 'em up, Johnny!" is amazing, and Abed's inflections were perfect.)

And then there's Glee, which I hate with a thousand burning suns, but everyone else raves about -- and I'm the key demographic (post high school musical theater kid).

Either there's something wrong with me, or television is beginning its descent into a pop cultural apocalypse.

(At least ABC brought past Better Off Ted! So there is hope...)

Matt said...

I'd watched it on Facebook in the preview, and liked it, but got even better on a second watch, because I caught more of the jokes. The big question to me is sustainability--how long can you keep this up without it getting excessively cartoony.

only mostly dead said...

@Matt -- The show takes place at a school, which familiar grounds for television settings because so many storylines can come from it. It's parallel to any show in the workplace; if there's a routine of interaction, there's sustainability.

Matt said...

I get the school setting--my greater concern is the characters--walking the fine line between making them funny, making them real, and making them cartoons, which the best comedies do well.

domino87 said...

Meh, would have liked it more if I hadn't heard all the critics rave about how good it is. It was decent enough tho and definitely has potential, so I'll be sticking around.

Brian said...

Completely brilliant. My head is still spinning over the rat-a-tat dialogue, which reminded me of Preston Sturges at times. Just hilarious, and McHale really does seem to be an heir to Bill Murray. I just hope Dan Harmon and company and keep up the incredibly quick pace of the pilot as they move forward.

DolphinFan said...

The show works.

lungfish said...

Wow, I just didn't get the show at all. I didn't find myself laughing at any of the jokes, and I though McHale was actually not very likeable.

Number Five said...

It was very funny! And I had heard half the jokes - you don't have to read a lot of reviews before the two or three things each reviewer cites start to add up. They've already two key things down - Joel McHale can carry the show (I've never seen The Soup) and the timing/pace is already very assured.

I cannot believe that was Trudy...Sloansy is right, and the absence of the stilted aristocrat voice also helps remove some of Trudy's agelessness. I'm also glad that Yvette Nicole Brown has a regular role and won't have to keep playing the Angry Overweight Black Woman in commercials (I read an article once on that weird cultural trope but don't remember where).

I agree with J - the reliance on pop culture references, especially 80s movies, is a bit of a warning sign, but I imagine a lot of that was for the pilot and it will be toned down afterwards.

There were a couple of interesting shots that departed from the bread-and-butter TV camera set-ups - when Jeff walks back into the study room to re-unite the group, and one other I can't recall. Hopefully those will continue.

The Thursday night comedies - they may not do well in the ratings, but what a powerhouse line-up!

Anonymous said...

Not funny. It sucked. No real likable characters (aside from the "assberger" dude, and I'm surprised Alan like that humor as he hates it so much on Big Bang.)

No chemistry.

Fail.

Chris said...

Wow - I had sky-high expectations going in and it exceeded them. McHale is amazing as expected, and Oliver was great. Ken Jeong is still to come.

Strongest sitcom pilot on a long time. Dare I say since Arrested Development? The Office and 30 Rock both stumbled out of the gate, as has Parks and Rec. I don't even remember HIMYM. But I sure as hell remember the AD pilot.

Owen said...

I liked it very much. I liked the characters. I liked the setting. It made me laugh.

Having seen so many sitcoms in my life, I especially appreciated not knowing what the characters were going to say before they spoke. (My other favorite sitcoms share this characteristic: The Office, Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, and HIMYM.)

Brandy said...

I really enjoyed this one. Watched it a few days ago on on Amazon unbox and then watched it with people tonight.

It got a lot of laughs here. I thought it held up surprisingly well on the rewatch.

Good stuff.

LA said...

Much to my surprise, McHale was the weak spot for me, utterly disappointing. That said, I did like the rest of the cast, and easily, Abed is my favorite. Hilarious. If they could make him the lead, I'd be happy.

It was interesting to see Allison Brie as someone other than Trudy Campbell.

jasctt said...

I didn't make through the first 5 minutes. Christ, can they find a MORE annoying lead guy? Makes that Ted guy on HIMYM look like Clooney compared to this D-Bag. NEXT!

When the heck is 30 ROCK coming back?

bsangs said...

Enjoyed it -- a lot.

"Asperger's. Huh, huh, huh." The texting site gag killed me too. Chevy mouthing inappropriate words and creepily trying to touch Shirley also. I can't recall too many comedy pilots grabbing me from the beginning, but this one did.

Now if only NBC would get rid of that horrible "Parks and Recreation."

Rachel said...

Didn't really get into it. I'll give it a chance because right now I'm just not seeing what the critics were talking about (and I love The Soup).

Rinaldo said...

I liked it very much, have watched it a couple times since it was made available some months back online. The characters being mostly not likable is a plus for me (I'm of the "no hugging, no learning" taste when it comes to sitcoms), and I thought the pilot did a good quick job of introducing a large group of characters and differentiating them.

I'm more concerned about its future, whether the tone can be sustained. The pilot kept threatening to tip over into sentimentality but didn't quite. But anytime we start learning regular heartwarming lessons that these are real people with real feelings, I'm out.

Trilby said...

Why is the obligatory Hot Chick named Britta? "Britta" is not a name. I realize that that is one of my main problems with this show.

Ingrid said...

I wanted to like this so badly, but I was underwhelmed.

Jerry said...

If you consider that it's the pilot, I thought it was good and showed potential. The writing was quick witted and sharp at times but so of the jokes tried too hard. I'm sticking with it.

Craig said...

I too was underwhelmed. I liked Chevy Chase and will give it another shot but it was just a big bowl of OK for me.

TC said...

I liked it quite a bit. I didn't have much in the way of expectations other than "it's supposed to be pretty good and Alan likes it," so maybe that helps. McHale was the weakest link to me. As has been said, though, it's only the pilot so hopefully it has a ways to go and will get even better.

Kathie said...

I liked it a lot, thought it was vey funny.........I really liked the 80's movie references, hope that keeps up. Loved when Abed was doing Bender......he is my favorite so far....

I agree Britta is a stupid name, hard to take her seriously. And she does look a lot like Elizabeth Shue...........

Bryan said...

I thought it was hilarious - just behind the office and better than the (much improved) Parks.

I'm suprised at the haters though - this doesn't seem to me like a show (like Arrested for example) that would generate that kind of response.

As for the 80's references and music I assume it's just because of the dedication to John Hughes (yes I know Hughes had nothing to do with DD) and won't continue.

Sharon said...

I liked it and will continue to watch. My rule of thumb is if I can get a couple of chuckles out of a pilot, then there's a good chance I'll like the show once it settles into a groove.

Oh, and for the person who said Britta isn't a name? There was a girl named Britta in my graduating class from waaayyy back in 1979, so it's a real name.

jasctt said...

Isn't Britta a water filter or something.

In other news, who cares?

Anonymous said...

I was surprised how bad it was. The promo for it was great. And it was clearly a great script. But the problem was all in the direction. Tone, pacing and cast were way off. Only Chevy Chase seems like he should be co-starring in a TV show and that's death for a TV show. Lines that should have been funny -"...and either way booyah." just fell completely flat. There was no sense of urgency to the story either. I never got a sense of the main character's conflict. It played out as one big flat line, so there was no payoff at the end. There was definitely funny lines, but very few of them even drew a laugh, as presented by this cast. I hope it's not like this for all new shows this season. And by this, I mean, Set Season Pass (cut to 1/2 hour later) Cancel Season Pass.

Q Ball said...

I had high hopes for this show, but it managed to meet them on all aspects.

They have to find a way to keep John Oliver around. His interactions with McHale were my favorite parts of the pilot. Abed had some funny lines, but I'm not a fan of the guy on The Big Bang Theory, so I have a feeling my patience with that character will be tested.

I don't get the haters either. I understand how some wouldn't find it funny (humor is subjective), but I thought the performances were great all around and like someone else said, the camera angles were impressive. Also, I have to agree that the rapid-fire delivery of McHale & co gives me pleasant flashbacks to AD.

Lane said...

count me in as those shocked by the haters too

Peruvian Idol said...

I really enjoyed it. Looking forward to Ken Jeong as the Spanish teacher, SeƱor Chang.

Hatfield said...

I didn't love it, but I laughed a lot, so I'm in.

"Dude, you just wrinkled my brain" was hilarious

Hannah Lee said...

I did love how taking Trudi Campbell out of Mad Men's clothing and gigantic hats de-aged her by a solid 10 years
Oh, THAT'S why she looked so familiar. Thanks.

I liked it alot...there was so much going on I think I missed half the jokes, so it'll be definitely getting a rewatch.

Although McHale's character is totally obnoxious, since the show admits he's obnoxious I can just sit back and enjoy him instead of cringing at whatever horrible thing he's doing.

Could NBC actually have a solid block of comedy again? I totally understand why Leno would dip after these premieres. These were funny, and Leno was not. Once again I made it only 5-10 minutes into his show before havin to turn it off.

Holly Martins said...

I liked it - funny, fast-paced, cynical, lots of good lines last night. I especially loved the bits about John Oliver's DUI ("2002 was a simpler time"). Anyway, no show on earth will make me miss "Supernatural," but I'll definitely keep up with this one on Hulu.

J said...

People haven't heard the name Britta before? Does that mean they've never heard of Dean & Britta or even Luna? That would be a shame, because "Slash Your Tires" is one of the best Valentine's Day songs of all time.

barbra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
barbra said...

Off the top of my head, I know two people named Britta. It's a name of scandinavian origin. (And I don't live in Scandinavia or even Minnesota - I live in California.)

My friends were bummed when they came out with the water filter called Brita. Now they get that all the time: "Britta? Like the water filter?"

Anyway, I enjoyed the pilot. I thought it was better than P&R, although that was a pretty funny P&R. We'll see if C. holds my attention as the weeks go on.

Anonymous said...

Not one single laugh for me in the premiere. But I was happy with the acting and liked the characters, so I will give it at least one more shot. Sometimes it takes me a while to warm up to comedies.

Lizbeth said...

May not be everyone's cup of tea, but it is mine. I love the quick throwaway jokes and count myself as a McHale fan. Not a perfect pilot, but the casting and writing are both pretty strong and will most likely get better once everyone finds their rhythm together.

My favorite line from the pilot:
"I want you to extend the same compassion that you extend to sharks, pencils, and Ben Affleck."

Anonymous said...

I liked most of it - but even though I'm familiar with her name, I don't think the Britta character works.

Solid pilot from the rest of the actors and characters.

Anonymous said...

I felt like they were trying really hard to get that "30-something" viewer demographic...but to the exclusion of those younger or older. I mean how many times did they need to bring up Elizabeth Shue? And people in their 20ies may have SEEN the Breakfast Club and Dirty Dancing but would they really remember sections of the script enough to get this show? Abed and was the highlight.

Hatfield said...

I'm in my 20s and got all the references, so it didn't occur to me that it might skew old.

Upon reflection, it was really funny, I just was expecting to experience ecstasy based on Alan's reaction. Probably should dial my expectations down a bit...

srpadd said...

Thanks Alan! I would have ignored this but for your review. Enjoyed it a lot but wonder how much material they can mine.

srpad said...

oops. that is me above just typo'ed my name.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was pretty damn funny, especially the Slumdog Millionaire line. And hey! Trudy Campbell!

Anonymous said...

Oh and I'm in my mid-twenties and loved all the references. Just because I was born in the 80s doesn't make me a pop culture idiot.

Jennifer said...

Wasn't planning on watching it, am not too into most sitcoms these days, plus I work at a college, but...it wasn't bad. I had to admire the smooth talking and the stirring up and then resolving of the war, plus Britta and the prof shooting lawyer guy down. Maybe I'll watch it again?

Though yeah, I can't help but think about the damn water filter either.

compain87 said...

I enjoyed Community. It seemed like an enjoyable show. All the characters were entertaining, I think Joel McHale was great, at least if he was trying to come off as a shallow D-bag and i mean that as a compliment. i just look forward to watching more of this show.

Anonymous said...

"Community" had it's funny moments but has a long way to go. Chevy Chase was quite good though.

GabbyD said...

i have a question about the premise of the show...

if McHale's character has a bogus undergrad degree, doesnt he also have a bogus law school degree?

OR, if he passed the bar, why does the undergrad degree matter?

Maura said...

Between Joel McHale starring, and Alan's review, I've been looking forward to Community. And I was not disappointed. I laughed my ass off.

Abed (Butt-calling guy from those T-Mobile commercials) is hilarious, and I almost had tears running down my face when Jeff told him he has Asperger's. Anyone here who spends time on TV boards knows that, according to many posters, everyone on television has Asperger's.

It's been years since I've watched a comedy on television. This one is worth the time.

Savvy Veteran said...

It made me laugh a lot, and I'll most definitely be on board for the foreseeable future. It clearly has clever writing, and the performances were good all around. Seriously, what's there to hate? I can imagine being underwhelmed, I suppose, but I can't even fathom hating it.

olucy said...

@GabbyD --

I wondered the same thing, but I think he said that when it was discovered that his degree was bogus, he was disbarred. Hence, his dilemma.

Trilby said...

Lying about your undergraduate degree to the bar would disqualify you from ever practicing law again. The bar will overlook youthful transgressions if you admit to them and convince the bar that you have reformed, but to go all through law school, submit your paperwork to the bar, and start practicing with a phony bachelors degree? No, you could not get past that by going back to school. It's called ethics. Not trying to harsh anyone's vibe, just sayin'....

samuli said...

dman, that pilot was good... but might too clever for "normal people"... sniiff...

Sean said...

It might not be laugh-out-loud funny right now, but it takes the best shows a little while to find their footing. You know who also had a dry and not great 1st season? 30 Rock; and now it can't not win awards. I for one am giving this show more time.

Nicole said...

I just ignored the implausibility of the reason behind Joel Mchale's attendance at the community college, because in real life they would never have merely suspended his licence for lying about having an undergrad degree. It's fraud, and bar associations make a big deal about that. As much as the general public likes to accuse lawyers of being corrupt, there is a "good character" component before being admitted to the bar and a real life example of a student lying about her undergrad degree happened in Ontario, and although she had passed her courses in law school, her fake degree was discovered, she was expelled from the university and rejected from applying to the bar.

But outside of that, I didn't mind this show. It's certainly decent for a pilot.

darylhorn14 said...

I'm in my 40's and am a HUGE Chevy fan...so I was set to love this. Underwhelmed. I felt they were trying too hard. Very Diablo Codyesque with all the pop-refs. What happened to good interplay? I still set a 'series recording' and will give it a few more chances. I'm not sure McHale is the right guy to front this show...

Mike F said...

pretty surprised at how many negative comments...

I thought this was one of the best comedy pilots I've seen in years...this show coming on the heels of the new comedy on Starz (so good, I can't remember its name lol)...

I can't remember the last time there were this many good comedies on television...Curb Your Enthusiasm, How I Met Your Mother, 30 Rock, Community, The Office, The Simpsons, Bing Bang Theory, Californiacation, Its Always Sunny and the Starz show

Add in shows partial comedies like Hung, Greek, Rescue Me...and black/campy partial comedies like Breaking Bad, Dexter and True Blood and you have a revitalization of the comedy era in television

I didn't include some shows that I dislike that others love...like Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, Weeds, Nurse Jackie, 2.5 Men, etc etc...but if you like those too, then you're laughing more than ever

Anonymous said...

Nothing groundbreaking, very over-hyped, but much more likable than Glee.

mrsb said...

They could put Joel McHale in anything, and I'd watch it. The guy is just hilarious.

Karen said...

John Oliver is NEVER not funny.

I really liked it. I was prepared to like it by Alan's positive review, but I was surprised by how much I laughed.

Tracey said...

I finally caught this on video on demand (what would I do with out you...)

I was a bit disappointed by it, though I'll give it a few more chances for the love of Joel McHale. The pilot skewed a little too much into cringe humor, which never appealed to me, particularly not when, let's face it, the main character is a douchebag.

It seemed to have an OK start, with the dean giving a speech about the kind of losers who come to community college... which was supposed to be turned inspirational by the next card, that was missing. Funny concept, didn't quite play out as well as it could have.

I'm having a hard time buying into the premise. I'm a lawyer myself, and I'm having a hard time understanding how a community college degree is supposed to resolve his attorney disciplinary problem. Maybe they'll explain it better later on. Maybe they don't care.