‘Community’ stars hope they get a passing grade from NBC


LOS ANGELES — Decisions as to which network shows will be asked back for the 2010-2011 season will made over the next couple months.

For NBC’s new comedy “Community,” it’s
like being a college freshman with a 2.0 GPA — it’s doing OK but
there’s no guarantee it will return for a sophomore year.

For those of you who have not found this cool comedy, “Community” features the biggest band of misfit schoolmates since “The Breakfast Club.” Their leader, Jeff, is an ex-lawyer (Joel McHale) who’s more interested in the social aspects of community college than making the grade.

The show’s gotten critical support but when it comes
to viewers, “Community” falls in the middle of the 130 network programs
on the five networks.

A solution for the low ratings from Chevy Chase, who plays the world savvy community college student Pierce, has him thinking like a transfer student.

“We could go to another network,” Chase sarcastically suggests during an interview on the set.

It’s rare for a TV show to transfer to another network, so “Community” must survive NBC’s pass-fail thinking.

Yvette Nicole Brown, who plays a middle-aged divorcee/college student, is thinking more optimistically.

“I am really proud of the work we are doing, and I
feel like the people who are supposed to find the show will find the
show,” Brown says. “I am happy NBC gave us a full year and I hope viewers will find us.”

Jeff’s other study buddies at Greendale Community College include Britta (Gillian Jacobs), the object of his attention; Abed (Danny Pudi), a pop culture guru; perfectionist Annie (Alison Brie); and jock Troy (Donald Glover). “The Hangover” maniac Ken Jeong plays Spanish professor Senor Chang.

Television history is filled with comedies that
struggled the first year but grew into major hits, including “Cheers”
and “Seinfeld.” No one’s suggesting “Community” will end up as big a
hit, but it certainly stands out compared to NBC’s comedy-thin “Parks & Recreation” (ranked 91 of 130 network shows), which just got an order for a third season.

Giving a grade to a television show is a lot
different these days than when “Cheers” and “Seinfeld” were on the air.
This is the era of TiVo,
Hulu, On Demand and watching full seasons on DVD. That means the
success of a show like “Community” might not become clear for years.

There are some clues the show has fans. On the Halloween episode, Jeong used the phrase “Mexican Halloween,” referring to a sexual position. The next day, the phrase was the most-searched item on Google.

Over the next few weeks, “Community” will try to earn enough points with viewers to get NBC executives to give it a passing grade.


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