Pilot Light: NBC's 'Community'
The usual disclaimer: These posts are not reviews -- in a lot of cases, pilots aren't completely finished products yet. But we do want to offer our impressions of the new shows, now that we've seen more than just a few clips.
Cool? Cool. On to "Community."
What it is: Jeff ("The Soup's" Joel McHale) is a lawyer who's gifted at the art of persuasion -- and skating by without really working that hard. That comes back to bite him when his college degree is invalidated and he has to earn a new one starting at a community college populated by "remedial teens, twentysomething dropouts, middle-aged divorcees and old people keeping their minds active as they circle the drain of eternity," as the pilot puts it.
Who's making it: Dan Harmon ("The Sarah Silverman Program") wrote the pilot and is among its executive producers, as are the pilot's directors, "Arrested Development" veterans Joe and Anthony Russo.
What to look for: The show will be focus on a "study group" Jeff organizes in an effort to make time with a girl (Gillian Jacobs) and that attracts the aforementioned underachieving types (Alison Brie, Donald Glover, Yvette Nicole Brown and Chevy Chase -- yep, Chevy Chase), plus an oversharing and overager guy named Abed (Danny Pudi of "Greek"). They're all scraping bottom in one way or another, and they all kind of know it; the laughs (which are fairly frequent) come from their reluctance to admit it.
What pops: The cast has an odd but comedically effective chemistry, and McHale has no problem moving from snarky clip-show host to sitcom star. Pudi may be in line for a big breakout; he steals several scenes. McHale and John Oliver ("The Daily Show"), who plays a professor, also have several funny exchanges.
What doesn't: A couple of the supporting characters a little thin, as you might expect in a pilot. The show may also need to do a little more work to establish real bonds between the members of the group.