NBC’s Community Reminds Us How Pilots Are Like First Dates

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Community 1The pilot episode of NBC’s Community aired last night (it was actually online months ago but you had to become a Facebook fan of it to watch, and I stubbornly refused to become a Facebook fan without first seeing it — I have integrity, dammit, and I reserve “fanness” for friends of mine for whom it’d be awkward if I didn’t “fan” their thing they sent me).

In short, I enjoyed the episode, if not frequently LOLing (laughing oh lot), but the outstanding ensemble cast is more than enough to make this show appear promising — Joel McHale’s smart but douchey main character was a welcome change from the typical schlubby main guy who ends up getting the girl, John Oliver is universally undislikable, Donald Glover (of Derrick fame) is great, and Chevy Chase is…well, let’s just say he’s paid his dues for his years of Hollywood self-alienation, and it’s nice to see him in a low-pressure role where he can bring something to the table.

Community 2That being said — I can’t get over how much watching pilot episodes of shows I anticipate reminds of being on a first date. No matter how interesting the show/person is or how well we may end up connecting later down the line, there’s always an inevitable boring exchange of information — who are these characters, what’s the setting, why are they here, what’s your job, what music do you listen to, you seriously think Super Troopers is overrated? How many times have you seen it? One? Well, there you go, I didn’t think it was anything special the first time I saw it either. No, I’m not saying it’s the lord and savior of comedies, it’s just a really likable, quotable throwaway movie. Crap, I haven’t even begun to look at this menu, sorry, you order first and I’ll just pick something.”

Sorry, that analogy got sidetracked somewhere along the line. I think in like the second to last word.

Community 3Anyway, my kind-of point — there were moments in Community where the show would just too-neatly have to sum up a character’s persona in a couple of their lines, and you knew the show was doing it, and you knew the show knew it was doing it, but dammit, it was a pilot episode, and it had to include everyone in a very basic, simple introductory setting with a lot of exposition and a nice tidy ending that didn’t automatically require a subsequent episode for closure.

Similarly, you wouldn’t enter a first date and immediately start talking about Kierkegaard, your mother’s battle with cancer, or reasons why every word in the line “I call the big one ‘Bitey’” is flawless (though if you actually did the latter on a first date, you’d suddenly look down and realize I’d married you.)

So with all of this in mind, I’ll deem the Community pilot a success, and certainly promising enough to deserve a Season Pass for the time being. Here’s hoping our initial first-date nerves gain some traction in future meetups. Then I will have sex with it.

And for the record, Parks and Recreation was also pretty funny last night, particularly the peach t-shirt incident. Good start for NBC Thursday, with 30 Rock still yet to return — this whole “having good things on tv” approach to tv is really strange…

Thoughts on the Community pilot and Parks & Recreation premiere? Leave ‘em in the comments. Oh wait, you can’t, because comments keep messing up today! I’ll just assume you echo my thoughts exactly. And thanks for the compliments about my elegant prose and masculine jawbone!