Back to 'Community' college, magna cum laughter

Chevy Chase, left, as Pierce, Joel McHale as Chevy Chase, left, as Pierce, Joel McHale as Jeff in the NBC sitcom "Community." Photo Credit: NBC Photo

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REVIEW

REASON TO WATCH: Ken Jeong, Joel McHale, John Oliver, Chevy Chase . . . and so on. An amazing comic cast.

WHEN/WHERE: Thursday nights at 9:30 on NBC

Jeff Winger (McHale, host of E!'s "The Soup") is a speed-talking smart lawyer, or rather former lawyer who was disbarred because he lied about his college degree. (Went to "Colombia" . . . now, he's got to get one from America! BA-dum.) He's come to Greendale Community College to get some easy credits because he figures a former client (Oliver, "The Daily Show"), now a prof at Greendale, will get him test answers.

Meanwhile, Winger fakes a little bit of Spanish to impress Britta (Gillian Jacobs), then launches a Spanish study group, which is a magnet for oddballs (cue "The Breakfast Club" jokes). They are Abed (Danny Pudi); Pierce (Chevy Chase), who created baby wipes and for some reason is at Greendale; high-strung Annie (Alison Brie); jock Troy (Donald Glover), and Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown). They all adore Winger, Britta excepted.

BOTTOM LINE

"Community" was created by Dan Harmon, and his NBC bio reads: "Harmon is a native of Milwaukee, Wis. He's 36; he has chronic heartburn, a perfect girlfriend and a cat with no teeth. Wish him luck on this new adventure in life."

And wish him luck we will. Harmon is a horse of a different color, indeed - a cocreator and scribe on "The Sarah Silverman Program," and co-writer of 2006's "Monster House," a big-screen animated feature about a house that turns into a you-know-what. He spent a lot of time in community college - and apparently never graduated.

All this is a roundabout way of saying that Harmon may be as qualified to produce this show as his cat. And that, by the way, is a good thing. "Community" can be fresh, funny, smart and extremely aware of its own cleverness; it also can be terrifically odd - odd good, or odd bad, or sometimes odd-good-bad-strange all at once. By the time you get to the second episode, you'll see exactly what I mean.

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Just wait for Jeong's SeƱor Chang, who makes his entrance next week. That alone makes this ride worthwhile, and maybe - maybe - a ride for the long haul.

GRADE

A-

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