Amongst continually dismal ratings and a fairly lackluster fall season, NBC has decided to reinvigorate its line-up by making room for several midseason replacements - and to, hopefully, raise the profile of a few lagging programs.
Sadly, these moves will likely do little to earn favor amongst the small, but incredibly devoted fanbase of Community, as they learn the show will be remanded to the NBC shelf, for now.
It’s a familiar story for television fans: a beloved, intelligent, show has once again fallen victim to a poor performance in the ratings department, and now its future has been called into question. (Arrested Development, anyone?) One of the few highlights in NBC’s stable of half-hour comedies, Community has been placed on indefinite hiatus while the peacock network shuffles around its once dominant Thursday night line-up – and makes room for the return of 30 Rock.
Beyond losing out to shows like Whitney and the retooled Are You There, Chelsea? (formerly, Are You There Vodka, It’s Me Chelsea) what likely irked many fans is the way NBC decided to address the show’s status – mostly by not addressing it at all. When the programming shake-up occurred, Community simply didn’t appear on the schedule, which, in turn, led to great supposition amongst many in the media (fan and non-fan alike) that the network’s good will toward the show had finally run out.
For now, that doesn’t seem to be the case. While it sounds as though the end is nigh for Community – and fan reaction on the Internet suggests that is what many believe to be the case – the fact is that NBC hasn’t cancelled the series, at all. The network confirms that the remaining episodes of Community’s 22-episode third season will be filmed – there is just no word on when anyone is likely to see them.
The unfortunate truth of the whole situation is that Community’s fate rests on the unpleasant business side of show business. Despite guest stars like Josh Holloway and John Goodman, the critically lauded program consistently pulls in very low numbers. The most recent episode managed a paltry 3.5 million viewers – suggesting those praising the show in various media outlets may be the only ones actually watching. Compounding the problem further, the comedy has – again, despite being critically praised – missed out on pulling in any awards, which typically grant underperforming shows a stay of execution.
While being placed on “indefinite hiatus” certainly doesn’t bode well for a chance at a fourth season pick-up, there is still a chance that some good could come of the precarious position in which Community finds itself. If NBC plays its cards right, the public awareness gained by the chorus of disapproval over the show’s dismissal/hiatus may produce the kind of ratings surge the network so desperately needs. For that to work, however, Community would have to make its triumphant return to the airwaves sooner, rather than later – meaning the show’s best shot at ultimately proving its worth may come as soon as spring 2012.
Strangely, beyond a few indirect statements from executive producer Neil Goldman and series creator Dan Harmon on their respective Twitter accounts (which consisted of Goldman saying, “Midseason schedule burn!” – to which Harmon replied “Streets Ahold!” ) the cast and crew have largely remained silent on the situation.
Perhaps the reluctance to use social media as an outlet for anger or disappointment can be taken as a good sign that Community is really just the victim of some poor scheduling choices.
Community will continue to air new episodes through its December 8 holiday episode, which airs @8pm.