Connect with us

TV

Revisiting the Community Pilot

A look back at the pilot episode of the NBC sitcom Community

The aughts emerged right off its centennial heal with an array of sitcom comedies heavily revolving around groups of various character types. In 2003, the dysfunctional wealthy Bluth family came about in Arrested Development. In 2005, it was the depiction of the everyday lives of Dunder Mifflin paper employees in The Office. And on September 17, 2009; we got the social misfits of Greendale Community College portrayed in Community.

Created by Dan Harmon on NBC, the series follows a group of community college students: Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) a suspended lawyer, Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs) a former anarchist activist, Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi) a pop-culture-obsessed film student alluded to have Aspersers, Shirley Bennett (Yvette Brown) a Christian single mother with an alcoholic past, Annie Edison (Alison Brie) a compulsive overachiever, Troy Barnes (Donald Glover) a former high-school star quarterback who lost his scholarship, and Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase) a millionaire who enrolls into college due to boredom.

Straight off the beginning scene of the show’s pilot, we are introduced to these archetypes laid out neatly by the corky Dean Pelton (Jim Rash), centralizing the universe that the audience is in. What makes the pilot so strong, is purely the setup. With the preamble of so many backstories among so many oddball individuals, the expectations are set extremely high for episodes to come. We can only expect humorous things to come about as the details to these stories surface and character relationships intertwine.

Some may argue that the first episode isn’t as grand as other pilots or as funny compared to proceeding episodes, especially looking back on seasons two and three. Although the humor isn’t as mature as that of episodes like Modern Warfare or Critical Film Studies, the pilot displays great promise of great things to come, which is exactly what a pilot should do. To all those naysayers out there I say: What good is a television show if it’s only as good as its pilot?

To its promise, the pilot also introduces a new trend to modern-day television by injecting heavy uses of meta-humor and popular culture references, often parodying film and television clichés and tropes, without explanation or hand holding the viewer. It is with early signs in the pilot, liberally referencing The Breakfast Club via the obvious comparison with the early morning study group and Jeff’s blatant callout to the John Hughes title, that we will get a more complex homage to forgotten films like My Dinner with Andre in the episode Critical Film Studies. Its smart comedy that doesn’t pander, but rather challenges the viewer to be on the same page as the show.

To praise the setup and promise of a pilot is directly related to its writing. Thus the strength of the first show is that of Dan Harmon. The world of sitcom television introduced a talent that can make us laugh while also making us think. If that was ever a testament to its humor, it’s evident in the failures of the fourth season when David Guarascio and Moses Port replaced Harmon as showrunners and executive producers. As a result, ratings dipped, the show went into hiatus beyond its original 2013 season premiere airing date, and showrunners like executive producers Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan and lead actor Chevy Chase among others left the series early. Despite troubling times, on May 10, 2013, the series renewed for a fifth season on NBC, with its sixth and final season airing on Yahoo Screen in 2016.

Chris Clemente

Written By

Chris Clemente is a senior web and graphic designer located in Upstate New York. He enjoys writing articles and reviews as often as he can. When unshackled from the chains under his desk, you can find Chris lurking around the NYC film festival circuits, like Tribeca and NYFF at Lincoln Center. His brain may be filled with code, but the love for film (especially independent film) bleeds deep within his heart.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Facebook

Trending

Queer As Folk 1999 retrospective Queer As Folk 1999 retrospective

Queer As Folk – A Cultural Milestone

TV

Stranger Things Season 4, Chapter 4 "Dear Billy" Review Stranger Things Season 4, Chapter 4 "Dear Billy" Review

Stranger Things Hits a Terrifying Home Run with “Chapter 4: Dear Billy”

TV

John Carpenter's The Thing 1984 movie retrospective John Carpenter's The Thing 1984 movie retrospective

Ambiguity Makes for Better Horror in 1982’s The Thing

Film

The Witch: Part 2. The Other One The Witch: Part 2. The Other One

The Witch: Part 2. The Other One is a Disappointing Genre Hybrid

Culture

Web of Make Believe review Web of Make Believe review

Netflix’s The Web of Make Believe Gets Off to a Scary Start 

TV

Stranger Things Season 4, Chapter 6 "The Dive" Stranger Things Season 4, Chapter 6 "The Dive"

Stranger Things Scrapes the Bottom with “Chapter 6: The Dive”

TV

Top Gun: Maverick Top Gun: Maverick

Top Gun: Maverick is Franchise Filmmaking at its Best

Film

Jurassic World Dominion - Tilt Jurassic World Dominion - Tilt

Jurassic World Dominion Misunderstands the Entire Franchise’s Allure

Film

Stranger Things Season 4 Chapter Two: Vecna's Curse Stranger Things Season 4 Chapter Two: Vecna's Curse

“Chapter 2: Vecna’s Curse” Is Both Too Much and Not Enough for Stranger Things

TV

Stranger Things Catches Its Breath with “Chapter 5: The Nina Project”

TV

RRR RRR

RRR Delivers Infectious Charm and Unparalleled Action

Film

The Interceptor The Interceptor

Netflix’s The Interceptor is Sunk by Laziness

Culture

Stranger Things Screeches To a Halt with “Chapter 7: The Massacre at Hawkins Lab”

TV

The Wilds vs. Yellowjackets: Which is Better? The Wilds vs. Yellowjackets: Which is Better?

The Wilds vs. Yellowjackets— Which is Better?

TV

Rutger Hauer Rutger Hauer

Blade Runner and the Particular Qualities that Noir Fans Can Appreciate

Friday Film Noir

Stranger Things Pulls Itself Together with “Chapter 3: The Monster and the Superhero” Stranger Things Pulls Itself Together with “Chapter 3: The Monster and the Superhero”

Stranger Things Pulls Itself Together with “Chapter 3: The Monster and the Superhero”

TV

Connect