What a crazy year (and a half) it’s been for Community, both onscreen and behind the camera on NBC’s cult hit comedy series. Showrunners came and went (and came back again), one primary cast member bowed out permanently, another member of the Greendale Seven might be preparing to make their exit and questionable storytelling choices throughout the fourth season – in combination with the network having delayed individual episodes well past their intended air date – ostracized a number of the show’s longtime fans and contributed to the low ratings dwindling even more.

… And yet, despite the many obstacles that life has thrown its way, Community remains the little television show that could, now that it’s been renewed for a fifth season with its original creator, Dan Harmon, back as the ringmaster for this circus of meta-madness.

Maybe it’s for the best, then, that the Community season 5 teaser keeps it simple, with a few establishing shots of the Greendale campus, the members of the Greendale Seven Six – including the recent graduate Jeff Winger (Joe McHale) – looking excited to be back in session and hanging out in their customary study spot (which is pulling double-duty as a storage room, apparently) and the familiar sight of Chang (Ken Jeong) making an odd appearance, followed by the expected reactions of horror.

Yep, class is definitely back in session.

So what now? Well, Community has experienced more than its fair share of ups and downs, in addition to having spent so much time on the chopping block that, at this stage, there have been two season finales that were designed to also serve as fitting conclusions to the series (in the rather plausible scenario where the show didn’t end up being renewed).

Moreover, following after a season that explored nearly ever high-concept premise for a Community episode that you can imagine – Halloween at Pierce’s house, Jeff meeting his long-absent biological father, a puppet adventure and even an (imagined) encounter with the Greendale gang’s evil counterparts from the darkest timeline – one has to wonder: is there much left to do with the show that would be interesting (and relatively original), at this point?

One of many pop culture jokes to come on ‘Community’ Season 5

Well, Community wouldn’t be the first TV show to bounce back after it hit a rough patch, especially now that the show’s general dynamic has been shaken up – providing Harmon and his writing staff with an opportunity to continue evolving the series like they did in season 3 (whereas the approach of the season 4 showrunners felt more like treading familiar ground for diminishing returns, arguably).

Plus, judging by the premiere episode (read our review) for Harmon’s Rick and Morty Adult Swim animated series, it’s fair to say that the man – eccentric and prone to sticking his foot in his mouth he most certainly is – still infuses his art with a whole lot of nerdy creativity, enthusiasm and sincere heart.

Who knows – if things take a turn for the better on Community, then maybe we will end up with six seasons and a movie, when all is said and done.

Community Season 5 begins airing on NBC on January 2nd, 2014.