5 stars


4th October 2010

My favourite new show of 2009 is coming to the UK, to be shown on a channel by the name of Viva. Is that a channel? How long have I been gone? Do you guys have flying cars yet?

If that's yet another way the coalition government have failed you this year then salve what is I'm sure a constant sense of disappointment by tuning into so-called "Viva" on October 5th and watch Community, a clever new sitcom from your friends at NBC.

Community takes place at Greendale Community College, and specifically recounts the tales of a Spanish 101 study group; the raggiest-taggiest group of mismatched chums since the last one.

I must admit, when I first saw previews for the show, I was convinced I would hate it, look; there's a nerdy one, a prissy one, a weirdo, a jock and so on and so forth. Ah, they make pop culture references and are wordy and self aware. Way to break out. But get this come closer it's funny. And there are no talking heads. I know!

Joel McHale is Jeff Winger, the ostensible lead character, who was disbarred for getting a fake law degree from the internet. Apparently The Bar like degrees that "don't come as attachments".

He's a lazy good for nothing with douche rising, and a heart of gold (natch) who tries to convince his ex-client and Community College professor John Oliver, America's current Englishman of choice, to give him the answers to every test and exam so he can get his old life back without having to break a sweat. Or a book's spine.

[gallery]While he whiles away his time, his plan to bed the perpetually angry Britta (Gillian Jacobs) brings him to create a fake study group which very accidentally becomes a real one; and cue our pool of paint-by-numbers kooks and sidekicks. Except they're not as poorly drawn as they first appear; jock Troy is prone to crying jags and is scared of mice; old man Pierce (Chevy Chase on excellent form), a moist towelette salesman turned mature student, is brazenly either unaware of, or refusing to conform to, social niceties and the damn PC wave. Think The Office's Creed, with less psycho killer undertones.

The remaining cast all have their own quirks, including include Mad Men's lovely Alison Brie as Annie, the nerd with a secret, and 4th star of Road Trip: Beer Pong Danny Pudi as Abed, a pop culture glutton who clearly suffers from some form of Asperger's syndrome, commenting as he does on the sitcom like contrived situations in which the gang find themselves with detached, emotionless asides . "Snort. Ass-burgers." (That was the show, not me).

Community is based on creator Dan Harmon's own experience at the real Glendale Community College in LA, where he learned the value of connecting with people he had nothing particular in common with. This does give the series a rather heavy handed “moral” at the end of every other episode, but it's completely balanced by the hilarious, occasionally surreal and often borderline offensive comedy that comes before it.

There are more laugh out loud moments in each episode than in a whole series of fat-guy-with-hot-wife ABC comedies. And the crazy naked guy from Role Models (Ken Jeong) is a crazy, 92% dressed, Senor Chang.

Whilst I've got you here, my personal favourite episode is Modern Warfare, a marvellous homage to Die Hard, The Running Man, Battle Royale, Rambo. It's the 23rd episode, and really tops off the whole first series. Having said that, I've watched every episode at least twice "recommendation" is an understatement.

And on a very unprofessional note... Joel McHale gives me a fizzy tummy.

The credits sequences are worth searching out and watching, even if I haven't convinced you to watch the entire show.

More:  Community  NBC
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