Back in May, Community fans everywhere were shocked and saddened by NBC's upfront announcement that Dan Harmon's ratings challenged sitcom had been canceled. With the largely underwhelming commercial performance of most other NBC comedies, fans assumed that the fact that Community had a devoted (if small) audience would be enough to save it from the ax again.
Alas, it was not to be. All truly seemed lost, with prospects of Community's revival looking nonexistent. Then, earlier this month, upstart video service Yahoo Screen saw fit to ride to Community's rescue like a knight in shining armor.
With that harrowing journey fresh in mind, Community star Joel McHale recently sat down with THR to discuss the show's fabled season 6 and tentative plans for an "epic" follow-up movie. As you might imagine, McHale feels very positively about Community's future with Yahoo, who he says "really believes in the show."
"I’m so excited because now there will be no commercial breaks, the restraints I'm assuming will be way less and it’s like this just playground now for [show creator] Dan [Harmon]. Unencumbered Dan Harmon is very exciting."
When asked whether he was nervous about Community moving to an untested content provider, McHale was unfazed, and feels that " 'Community' fans have proven that they will find the show." McHale also noted that the entire principal cast is contracted to appear in all 13 sixth season episodes, which stands as a contrast to the cost-cutting "single character focus" model employed by Netflix's revival season of cult sitcom Arrested Development.
As far as the fan-demanded Community movie is concerned, McHale says that Harmon and producer Chris McKenna's plan is to make a potential movie "epic" in scope, and more than just a longer version of a normal episode. However, a script has yet to be written, and it is by no means set in stone whether the movie would be shown on Yahoo Screen or in some other venue.
In a sharp contrast to all that upbeat positivity, NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt recently saw fit to shed light on exactly why the Peacock chose to finally cancel Community after five seasons. Predictably, the short answer is that the ratings weren't good enough. That said, Greenblatt went on to elaborate on the decision making process, in a way that might serve to annoy Greendale devotees everywhere.
"That sixth season thing was created by [the fans] — I’m surprised they didn’t say ’10 seasons and a movie. And [the mantra started] before my time [at NBC]. It didn’t just make sense for us to have another season of it at that level of audience.”
Well, Bob, don't hold back, tell Community fans how you really feel. While we all know television is a business, it seems a bit counter-productive for Greenblatt to take a backhanded swipe at the passionate fanbase of one of his network's longest-lasting comedies since the heyday of "Must See TV." Those same fans may now be a lot less willing to take a shot on a new NBC comedy this fall. After all, nobody likes being talked down to.
In the end, it really doesn't matter why NBC did what it did. Community will go on, and Jeff, Annie, Britta, Abed, Shirley, Chang, and Dean Pelton will be back for another semester at Greendale soon enough. Results like this may not be typical, but they really do illustrate why fans of a show should never be quick to give up hope. For now, let's all look forward to six seasons and a movie.
Community season 6 will stream on Yahoo Screen, but has no current premiere date.