Community Episodes

2009, TV Show

Community Episode: "Pilot"

Season 1, Episode 1
Episode Synopsis: A lawyer (Joel McHale) whose degree has been revoked forms a study group in the premiere of this comedy series following oddball students attending a Colorado community college. Chevy Chase also stars.
Original Air Date: Sep 17, 2009

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Season 1, Episode 1
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Aired: 9/17/2009
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Community Episode Recap: "Pilot" Season 1, Episode 1

From Dan Harmon (The Sarah Silverman Program) and Emmy Award-winning directors Joe and Anthony Russo (Arrested Development) comes Community. In the series premiere of this shiny new NBC show, it doesn't seem to matter how they got there or why, but a mismatched band of students at the Greendale Community College in Colorado are about to teach each other lessons that their curriculum could never cover. 

This week's debut episode finds main character Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), a normally slick-talking lawyer completely out of sorts and out of a degree.  Though his only hope of being a lawyer again is to re-earn the one that has been revoked, he is not going willingly, and not without the intent to cheat his way through, reminding an old professor friend, "If I wanted to learn something I wouldn't have come to community college."  Enter love interest, the gorgeous Britta (Gillian Jacobs) a 28-year-old drop-out with something to prove and a Spanish test to pass.  When she begrudgingly accepts the help of newly self-appointed "board-certified tutor" Jeff, she has no idea he knows "un poquito" Spanish and only wants to get in her pants. Hilarity ensues as the Spanish study group Jeff intended to be an "intimate" date grew into a serious meeting of the minds between Spanish extra help-seekers from class.  Here we meet the entire cast and find out just what Jeff is made of.  Can Jeff sweet talk his way out of this mess and still win the girl's heart?

First thing I thought when I saw previews for this show was, "YAY!" Not only has Joel McHale (major hottie and funny guy from The Soup) made the leap from commentator on pop culture to participator, but Chevy Chase is finally back in the spotlight (love him, where has he been? And why does he remind me so much of my dad?) I felt instantly this was a winning, if not intriguing, collaboration of comedic ability.  However, a few minutes into watching, I realize that there is way more to this new show than these two headliners. We may be looking at quite a promising ensemble cast.

Mere frames into the episode, the college nostalgia is thick.  Students with backpacks walking slowly between classes, green grass filling the quad is host to a swirling bout of that "new year" energy and the clock tower chiming really brings me back... oh wait, nevermind. That bell sound is playing from a boom box, which is quickly and awkwardly turned off just in time for a welcome address by the Dean.  And the comic tone is set, but just what kind of school is this?

With that, the perfect thesis statement was shouted through the mic that was plugged into the boom box, as his voice resounds, "What is community college?" He goes on to describe the many "misconceptions" that people have.  We start with the words, "When you think of community college, you think it's a 'loser college,'" as high-school football jacket-wearing Troy played by Donald Glover looks up.  You think of "20-something drop-outs," as Britta raises an eyebrow. He called out "middle-aged divorcees," as Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown)" stops in her tracks. And finally the comment "or old people keeping their minds busy as they circle the drain of eternity" causes Pierce (Chase) to pause and shake his head. 

Remember that "study group" I mentioned earlier?  Well it turns out this is where they all convened eventually.  Jeff got more than he bargained for as his entire Spanish class showed up looking to him for guidance not knowing a lick of Spanish.  Sitting around the large square table, in the library we get to know everyone in attendance.

Pierce proves to be the character that brings life experience to the group.  He has a thing for Shirley. I find Chevy in signature form. We find familiarity in his weakness for remembering people's names. His delivery is as sharp as ever.

Abed (Danny Pudi) plays a pop culture junkie who talks super fast and has an aversion for complete and utter honesty.  In a sense he plays the Screech Powers of Community

Britta dropped out of college because she thought it would impress Radiohead, has a sharp wit and her guard up.

More and more sit round the study table and the scene being set, a la The Breakfast Club.

By the end of the "study" session, which consisted of getting everyone to talk about anything but Spanish, Joel cracks and tells them all he made it up to get closer to Britta, whose only rule about meeting new people is: "You tell me the truth, I will like you. You lie to me, I will never talk to you again. That is my deal". We find that perhaps Joel is the one who needs extra help. Bribing your old psychology professor/friend to give you a sealed package containing all the answers to the test isn't a good idea, especially when Jeff eventually opens the package to reveal stacks of blank pages. Joel faces a room full of angry people and his professor, with whom Jeff has been in cahoots at the school. This isn't helping him cheat either, so unless his study group forgives him and Jeff can lose his cockiness, nobody is passing this Spanish test.

I thought this was a fun first offering and a series that could easily stand up on a Thursday night with the big dogs of 30 Rock and The Office.  Its upbeat nature and smart writing will make it a standout this fall for sure. So what do you think?  Does Joel McHale have comic chops that extend past Soup commentary?  Will Jeff pass his Spanish test?  But more importantly, will he get the girl?

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From Dan Harmon (The Sarah Silverman Program) and Emmy Award-winning directors Joe and Anthony Russo (Arrested Development) comes Community. In the series premiere of this shiny new NBC show, it doesn't seem to matter how they got there or why, but a mismatched band of students at the Greendale Community College in Colorado are about to teach each other lessons that their curriculum could never cover.

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Premiered: September 17, 2009, on NBC
Rating: TV-PG
User Rating: (583 ratings)
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Premise: A comedy series about an oddball group of students attending a community college in Colorado.

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