While it was easy to have some misgivings about the show’s early growing pains, Community immediately grabbed hold in its pilot episode, with smart humor and a refreshing take on the sitcom, heavily influenced by the touching moments of John Hughes.
But over the course of 10 episodes, Dan Harmon’s Community has evolved into a great way to start NBC’s Thursday night comedy lineup, and has arguably been the strongest point of it this year with a hit-and-miss Office season and a slow start for 30 Rock. The week of Halloween, Community’s holiday special “Introduction to Statistics” was hands-down the funniest thing on television.
The characters are starting to evolve and turn into more than the caricature stereotypes they started as, and the show has done a great job of moving around to feature each one of them. This has also helped to make super-eccentric characters like Abed (Danny Pudi) and Senor Chang (Ken Jeong) not feel so overburdening on the show. In fact, the credits exchanges between Abed and Troy (Donald Glover) have become a great way to end each show.
The only real exception to the evolution is Jeff Winger (Jole McHale) who unfortunately doesn’t seem to change with the rest of the cast. As the centerpiece for the show, most every episode ends with Winger learning some sort of lesson, only to find himself in the same trappings the following episode. Given, this is how sitcoms generally work and were Winger to change completely he wouldn’t serve as a mouth for McHale’s sharp wit. But because the show seeks those tender moments in addition to comedy, it’s hard to watch everyone else move forward and Winger stay the same guy.
To get the other complaint out of the way, the meta-humor needs to come to a halt, or at least be reduced drastically. Community has a diverse cast, and that often leads to risqué jokes, but it seems that the writing team can’t just put one out there without a line immediately following to self-acknowledge the wrongness of the joke. It makes the show at times feel insecure and plays down to its audience, fearing that if they don’t make sure to mention Pierce’s (Chevy Chase) racial generalization was just that, that viewers will consider the creators as having the same views and revolt. The self-referential humor works for some bits, but Community has way too much of it and needs to put itself out there if it is to succeed.
Otherwise, the show has featured stellar comedic performances from both the big names – McHale and Chase – to the relative newcomers like Glover. It is also refreshing to see the show moving away from the Winger-Britta (Gillian Jacobs) connection, even if it is all a play for Britta to eventually see something she likes in the guy. Winger has attempted to date a teacher, and tonight’s episode leavers Winger looking for a new date for a night out with Pierce and his lady. Hopefully, this creates a new arc for the second half of the series and Community continues to rise in the Thursday night lineup.
Community airs on NBC Thursdays evenings.
About the Writer:
Bill Jones is the editor-in-chief of padsandpanels.com, a site dedicated to the coverage of comics and games.