A seemingly simple show about a group of community college students has proven to be television's ultimate unsinkable ship as Community has earned yet another second chance, half fulfilling its #SixSeasonsAndAMovie promise while thrilling diehard fans of the imaginative and laudable series who had started to lose hope.
Cancelled back in May by NBC, series creator and Communie spiritual leader Dan Harmon seemed somewhat unmotivated to fight his most vigorous fight yet to keep the show going, saying that he had been in the "eh" column after the cancellation when the notion of continuing the show had been broached, but that he would "heat up." After one previous firing, repeated rumors about the shows death and scrambles to prove its viability, one couldn't really blame Harmon for his initial "eh," but despite a rocky journey that included a flirtation with Hulu and countless other rumors, Community has a new and unexpected home in the form of Yahoo's digital channel. Yes, Yahoo.
While going to a streaming network always seemed like the most likely destination for Community, it's doubtful that anyone won the pool with a bet of Yahoo, though now that all is said and done, it makes a little bit of sense. Think back to Netflix before the Arrested Development deal. Now think of them now.
Yahoo began their ascent toward original comedy programming glory in late April by greenlighting 8 episode seasons from Other Space (which is produced by Freaks and Geeks creator and comedy movie hot hand, Paul Feig) and another show about a basketball team in the Silicon Valley. But while these shows would garner some attention, they didn't have the richter-scale-registering effect of landing something with a built in audience. Specifically, an audience that is as loyal as the Community audience.
Seriously - have you seen these folks on your Twitter timeline? They're not just screaming about the quality of the show or begging networks to pick it up, they're tweeting at sponsors that run ads on the shows thanking them for their support and they're urging people to watch the show live and legal. These folks know how the business side works, and that kind of fanbase has got to be very appealing to a nascent digital streaming network.
As for the quality and personnel that we can expect from Community's sixth season, right now we know that Dan Harmon will be back and that executive producer Chris McKenna is in talks. The full cast (absent, we assume, previous castoffs Donald Glover and Chevy Chase... though, I imagine we're all fingers crossed for at least a cameo if this is truly the last season) seem likely as well, especially since Vulture is reporting that the production budget for this 13 episode season will not be "dramatically different" than last season's.
So, in addition to seeing Harmon get one more season with the cast, it seems likely that he won't be stifled financially when it comes to doing big things - not to mention the expectation that he may have a bit more creative freedom - and we don't even want to imagine a version of Community without the ability to do big things and theme episodes. What will those big things be?
Obviously, we'll have to wait and see, but with a new episode of Harmon's Harmontown Podcast recording tonight and San Diego Comic Con only a few weeks away (assuming that Harmon and company can pull something together for the convention this quickly), it will only be a matter of time before we are flush with tidbits, rumor crumbs and speculation. As opposed to the steady diet of nothingness and despair that we would have been promised had the show not, once again and thankfully, proven itself to have a cockroachian durability.
Update: Yahoo Chief Marketing Officer Kathy Savitt told Vulture that Yahoo's hope is to "build and extend and prolong" Community beyond season 6, though there is no comment about the show's future beyond the sixth season from Harmon and the other creative principles.
The update also goes on to establish that there is a fall 2014 target for these episodes and that they are "likely" to run weekly as opposed to in a binge-watchable batch.
This makes perfect sense to us with Community's social media firepower. If you're Yahoo and you're trying to establish yourself as an original content provider, why take the buzz-benefit in one burst when you can dine out on it for months?
Community will return for a 6th season on Yahoo Screen at some point in the near future.