First aired:17th September 2009
Joel McHale – Jeff Winger
Gillian Jacobs –Britta Perry
Danny Pudi – Abed Nadir
Donald Glover – Troy Barnes
Yvette Nicole Brown – Shirley Bennett
Alison Brie – Annie Eddison
Chevy Chase – Pierce Hawthorne
John Oliver – Ian Duncan
Jim Rash – Dean Craig Pelton
Synopsis: Following the discovery of his bogus Law degree, Jeff Winger has enrolled in Greendale community college, run by the bizarrely incompetent Dean Pelton. He tries to convince his friend, faculty member Ian Duncan (I say friend, he really is someone who owes Jeff a favour) to get him the answers to every test that semester to give him an easy ride.
In order to curry favour with the pretty blonde student Britta, Jeff fakes a study group in order to spend time with her. This plan backfires when Britta invites Abed, who in turn invites other new students Shirley, Annie, Troy and veteran student Pierce. Realising that the group is in his way, he causes a number of arguments and upset until Britta convinces him to smooth things over within the group in exchange for a dinner date. He does that with an impassioned off the cuff speech on the benefits of community. Britta calls him out on his bull and he leaves to collect the answers from Duncan. He gets screwed and has no answers, finally coming to the idea that he might need this group. So begins the four years of the second chance of Jeff Winger.
Notes: A variation on the workplace sitcom, this is a classic ensemble piece along the lines of Friends, rather than be the story of just one person. The first week of college works best, with all the cast starting at the same time to make all the characters be the stars. In that way, the entire cast needs to work. It’s a daunting task for most, but this is an exceptional cast. Each one is playing either likeable or sympathetic character, but with something slighty off about them. No one is in the place they wanted to be, Shirley is a divorced single mum trying to start a business career, Troy is a washed out jock, Britta is only now getting her life sort of together after dropping out 10 years ago and Annie is post-rehab. Only Abed and Pierce seem to actually want to be there. So most characters out of place or, cast away from their ideal home gives us a lot of conflict to start with.
And that’s where the more standard elements fall by the wayside, because this is a little on the weird side. Greendale is full of strange people and run in a bizarre manner by Rash’s unforgettable Dean Pelton. This is a slow start to series, easing you in with hilarious dialogue and polished comedic performances. I had heard of very few of these actors before, but there isn’t a single actor here that isn’t amazing. This a true ensemble piece that takes it time to hit it’s stride, althought it’s supposed to be Jeff Winger’s story, no one is shortchanged and everyone has a place to shine. I have watched this first episode 3 times and each time I have really enjoyed it.
Does it work? Yes, the basics are established quite quickly and we’re just left to enjoy the characters.
Does much need fixing? Not really, the cast seem to know what they are doing immediately.
Does it stand up? Much better than many other comedy shows.
Do I want to watch the next one? Do I? Just finished watching season 1 by the end of the week.
Did I enjoy it? Both the MIGHTY Rosie and I loved it.
Overall: 5 out of 5. Quirky and incredibly well written.