One of the consistently funny shows out there for the past two years has been NBC's "Community" (NBC, 8 p.m.), which has settled into its own niche and made itself very distinctive among network fare.
It took a few episodes for the show to find its legs, but now it has found its way, mainly by riffing on pretty much any movie ever made.
An episode about a paintball war on campus gave us spoofs of "Die Hard" and several war movies. Another about an astronaut simulator gave us some great spins on "Apollo 13" and "The Right Stuff."
This week, Hilary Duff guest stars in a take on "Mean Girls."
"Community" has grown from a vehicle for star Joel McHale into a genuine ensemble show. Though its ratings aren't great, the show is on NBC, which can afford to show it more patience than another network. Plus, it has a devoted core of dedicated fans. In fact, the network just increased its episode order from 22 to 24, a great show of faith in "Community."
For me, it's the top show of the night for the network, eclipsing "30 Rock" and "The Office." While those latter shows are still funny, they lack the freshness "Community" has.
THURSDAY'S BEST BETS: After the NBC sitcoms, there's a new "Apprentice" at 10 p.m.
ABC has been heavily hyping tonight's "Private Practice" (ABC, 10 p.m.), in which one of the regulars is sexually assaulted. It follows a new "Grey's Anatomy" at 9 p.m.
CBS is all-new with guest star Eliza Dushku on "Big Bang Theory," "(Bleep) My Dad Says," "CSI" and "The Mentalist."
With the World Series over, Fox delivers new episodes of "Bones" and "Fringe" from 8-10 p.m.
"Nikita" (CW, 9 p.m.) continues to get better every week and is one of the five best new shows of the season. It follows a new "Vampire Diaries."
On cable, there are new episodes of "It's Always Sunny" and "The League" from 10-11 p.m.
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