It's been a bumpy road for Community getting to today's premiere of season six on Yahoo! Screen. The comedy series set in a community college has been sitting on the edge of cancellation since it began; it has fought its way through multiple showrunner changes and casting change-ups to survive this long. Luckily for fans of the series though, its cancellation on NBC was not its end - as evidenced by today's season six debut.
The season six trailer - a parody of the Age of Ultron trailer - was therefore a welcome sight, following just a teaser, images, and the (unwelcome) confirmation that Yvette Nicole Brown isn't returning for the next installment in Dan Harmon's offbeat TV show. Meanwhile, there continue to be rumblings that the series could, in fact, wrap up with a feature film - prompting fans to keep on tweeting the hashtag "#sixseasonsandamovie" in support of the idea.
Community cast members Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Gillian Jacobs, Jim Rash, and Ken Jeong (along with season six additions Paget Brewster and Keith David) attended the show's SXSW panel, along with executive producer Chris McKenna and Harmon. The latter's comment about the continuing movie rumors (via Variety) was, in typical Harmon fashion, mostly joking... but also perhaps a bit serious (see below):
“Yahoo seems down for just about anything, I don’t know why they’d turn their nose up to a movie about a low-rated show. They seem to be very naive.”
Brie later provided the following food for though, when asked about how Community season six is different from the previous five - and how the change from a network to digital platform has affected the show:
“It’s been a difficult question to answer from our perspective because there’s not a huge crazy difference. Dan’s weirdness, it’s just able to exist more. That’s more of the difference. In the smaller moments, when someone’s having a rant, that rant can live a little bit longer. [Turns to Harmon.] The things we’re saying can be as weird as you’ve always wanted them to be.”
Brie also provided the following insight, when asked about the difference on set when working with NBC versus working for Yahoo! Screen:
“I think part of that vibe is yes, being at Yahoo, and feeling incredibly supported. Everyone from Yahoo who visits is like, ‘We get it. Just do your thing.’ It’s so refreshing. The vibe has been so fun. I do think it’s nice to have a couple new people [Brewster and David] in the sixth season of a show."
McKenna talked about the show's rollercoaster ride from being cancelled to then resurrected with Yahoo! Screen. He also expressed relief that each individual episode will now be longer (26 minutes for season six versus 22 minutes when the show was on NBC):
“They finally figured out how to defeat us. They just let us have a show. Last year was hard because we were losing characters and there was just a lot to do…It was a lot of bills to pay and we’re still paying them... Now you guys are getting a lot more ‘Community’ because we love our stuff, and we’re not cutting it out."
It sounds as though Community season six is going all out with its antics this time around. The lack of restraint on Harmon and his team - allowing them to create as much weirdness and pack in as many pop cultural references as possible - suggests this is one show that ought to fit comfortably on its new platform.
The extended run times for the episodes and the (remote, but still existent) possibility of a film ending point to the same thing: Community fans getting more than they've ever gotten before. That freedom is all the more refreshing, coming to a show that has never been able to fully get out of the shadow of low-ratings and behind-the-scenes controversy... until now.
Community season six is available for streaming every Tuesday on Yahoo! Screen.