Is Joel McHale’s New TV Show Community a Wannabe 30 Rock?

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After PopWatch tipped us off to the fact that buzzy fall pilot Community is available in full on Facebook, we couldn’t help but take a 24-minute break from blogging to check it out. First, the terms: in order to watch the pilot, you have to become a fan of Community‘s Facebook page. Well played, NBC viral marketing team. Moving on, the show stars Joel McHale, already beloved among fans of E!’s The Soup, and a rag-tag ensemble that includes, rather oddly, Chevy Chase.

OK, this show is basically 30 Rock, right? Both sitcoms are vehicles for former fake news star (Joel McHale/Tina Fey), featuring prominent supporting role for a stately older actor (Chevy Chase/Alec Baldwin) and an eccentric young sidekick (Danny Pudi plays Asberger’s-afflicted Abed, Community’s answer to Jack McBrayer). So, yes, this show is definitely trying on 30 Rock‘s winning formula, with a little of The Office‘s celebration of mediocrity thrown in there, but it does have a plot of its own: McHale’s Jeff plays a lawyer whose phony degree is found out and sends him back to community college, where he meets a group of people who, for various reasons, also find themselves there.

The community college setting works, and McHale definitely needs a bigger platform than The Soup. There were a few funny moments, including what may turn out to be either a poorly- or serendipitously-time reference to The Breakfast Club, but beyond that, we wish the pilot had a little more oomph. When we meet him, McHale’s Jeff is already on campus, trying to bribe a school official played by The Daily Show‘s John Oliver, but we think it would have been a little more cinematic if we got to see the lead-up to his fall from grace. Same for the other characters: how did they end up in community college? What’s going to keep them there for the duration of the show?

The Office and 30 Rock both started slow, so we have high hopes for Community. Check out the show for yourself on Facebook and let us know what you think. A clip is below.