The cast of NBC's Community have been through some very strange times. During "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" they all turned into stop-motion animations, and during the fourth season there was an episode where everyone was a puppet. Then there was the Halloween party with a zombie outbreak. Happy times.
In the latest trailer for the upcoming fifth season of Community, Jeff Winger and (most of) his friends from Greendale Community College appear in a jolly cartoon where Pierce has apparently died of suffocation. Well, that's one way to write Chevy Chase out of the show. As a previous trailer revealed, Jeff's life on the outside as a lawyer hasn't worked out too well for him, and he eventually chooses to return to Greendale as a member of the teaching staff.
Jeff isn't the only person making a comeback, however. Community creator Dan Harmon was fired after season three, leaving new showrunners David Guarascio and Moses Port behind to hold the fort during the fourth season. Harmon has now been rehired, though he has said in an interview with the New York Times that this shouldn't necessarily be taken as a token of unquestioning faith by the producers:
"I think it says we got to within spitting distance of syndication numbers, and these 13 episodes felt like, it doesn’t matter who’s running the show this year, so make it Harmon. That’s what I feel like. I’m not flattered by it, and I don’t feel vindicated or boosted by it. I don’t feel like it’s any kind of license to burn money or be unprofessional or self-indulgent in any way. I only feel pressure, because I feel like all I can do is screw up. And there’s only one way to interpret me screwing up, because it can’t possibly be their fault this time."
Harmon went on to say that he almost certainly won't have a license to burn money since Community's budget has been reduced for the fourth season - though one of the positive sides of NBC apparently only wanting to secure enough episodes for the show to reach syndication is that he and the rest of the team have quite a lot of creative freedom. Speaking to TheWrap, Harmon added:
"At least with Season 5 of ‘Community,’ it’s really just me and Chris McKenna with a lower budget, less time and a lot of really passionate green writers trying to do the best season of the five, left to our own devices with no more risk of anyone calling it mismanagement."
A lower budget is by no means a bad thing, as with writers like Harmon it can often only be a fuel for creativity (see the battle scene in the most recent trailer, in which the warriors are students with chairs tied to their feet). Let's just hope that he manages to deliver on his aspirations to bring us "the best season of the five."
Community returns to NBC on Jan 2nd, 2014.