New Castle News

The Couch Potato

January 15, 2014

The Couch Potato: Pledging my ‘Community’ support for Thursday nights

NEW CASTLE — In the old days (10 to 20 years ago), no one ruled Thursday nights like NBC.

The “Peacock” network was home to the best comedies like “Cheers,” “Seinfeld,” “Friends” and many more. I’ve written about all three in the past few months.

In recent times, however, nothing has really been able to stick for NBC on Thursdays.  As “The Office” wilted to its slow and painful death, so did the fortunes of the network on the most coveted night (in terms of advertising dollars) of TV viewing.

Even though it has been mostly failure, there has been one bright spot that somehow keeps chugging along through low ratings and lagging network support: “Community.” It returned to Thursday nights a few weeks ago for its fifth season, and so far, it has not disappointed.

But first, a little history on the subject. “Community” premiered to high critical acclaim in 2009, but never really found a huge audience. What it did do was develop a cult following of rabid fans who hounded NBC to keep the show going. Those efforts have been rewarded as the show continues to be renewed, even with low ratings, but maybe only because NBC has nothing else to put on.

Starring “The Soup” host Joel McHale as Jeff, the show began by focusing on his former lawyer character having been busted for not having a real law degree, and returning to a Community College to start over. Of course, he joined a study group, and the cast rounded into shape featuring a number of eclectic, oddball characters.

The show was created by Dan Harmon and it really was and now again is, his show. He is famous for the work that he put into every episode and script, as well as being infamous for his temper and dealings with the network. He became such a pain that he was fired from running the show after the third season, sat out season four, only to be re-hired for season five. 

The reason this is important is because with the return of Harmon, the Couch Potato has seen a return to the “Community” that the rabid fan base fell in love with in the first place after a very uneven season four. 

Gone are the happy endings and cutesy dealings of the alien fourth season, and back are the random references, spot-on parodies of procedural dramas and general goofiness that only a “Community” fan would understand.

One of those goofy plot lines came in the premiere episode when eccentric movie lover, Abed, took a Community College class titled, “Is Nicolas Cage a good actor?”

Now obviously that is a hilarious topic for college credit, but what struck me was how true of a question it actually is. Think about the career of Nicolas Cage and it becomes obvious that there is no real “right” answer.

As the episode so brilliantly points out, no one can be sure if he has a method to his acting or if he is just completely random. From yelling at odd times, jumping around like a maniac and then blowing people away with an Oscar-winning performance in “Leaving Las Vegas,” the man is a mystery in madness.

Well anyway, Abed ends up doing a randomized impression of all of Nicolas Cage’s quirks, which I highly encourage you to check out online if you can. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

It also needs mentioning that the performance of Jim Rash, who plays the Dean of Greendale Community College, is nothing short of remarkable.  His comedic timing is impeccable and he has been rewarded with an increased presence in the show.

So here’s my pitch: stop watching “The Big Bang Theory” on Thursday nights and give “Community” a try. 

Don't you think that NBC's Thursday nights, like McHale's character Jeff on the show and Harmon in real life, deserve a second chance?

(If you have a question, comment or idea, please email me at:


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