Things are in flux over at NBC, what with the network abandoning "narrow" and "sophisticated" comedy in order to keep up with the competition's mainstream ratings-leaders (Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory). However, that news has left Community fans wondering if that means the ongoing saga of Greendale Community College and its peculiar students/staff is heading to the chopping block (... again).
NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt has publicly addressed the likelihood of Community Season 5, following the show's fourth season this year. He also spoke about what led to the decision to pass on Bryan Fuller's Munsters TV series reboot Mockingbird Lane, despite a decent showing for its pilot (which aired as a Halloween special last year).
Several shows were represented at last week's Television Critics Association press tour, including new arrivals such as A&E's Psycho spinoff Bates Motel and long-running series that are winding down to a close this year (e.g. The Office). During the event, Greenblatt received questions about NBC productions where the future is more up in the air; or, rather, non-existent in Mockingbird Lane's case.
Here's what Greenblatt had to offer about Community Season 4 (via Deadline):
“I think you’ll see relatively the same show that you did before, maybe with a little bit more heart built into it. But we didn’t fundamentally change it... We’re absolutely hopeful it will lead to a fifth season. I’d love nothing more than to see it continue.”
David Guarascio and Moses Port (Just Shoot Me) are assuming showrunner duties from Community creator Dan Harmon on Season 4, leaving many members of the loyal fanbase concerned; even after Harmon's third season was ambitious, but (admittedly) something of a mixed bag. The new show heads aren't taking steps to move away from the increasing reliance on "theme" and homage episodes in recent seasons, but it remains to be seen whether that's a good or bad thing.
Greenblatt also touched on Chevy Chase's departure from the show (via EW):
“Actors come and go on a lot of shows and this is a big ensemble. I don’t think that’s going to be a big negative about the future of the show.”
To be frank: Chase leaving the series was not only predictable, it almost seems necessary following season three (where his character's role was heavily reduced). It had reached a point where Pierce's antics were amounting to little more than a distraction from the overarching storyline; not to mention, reports that Greendale's (second) oldest student actually regresses back to his old prejudiced ways in season 4 are less-than-encouraging.
As for Mockingbird Lane, Greenblatt said:
"We just decided that it didn’t hold together well enough to yield a series. It looked beautiful and original and creative, but it just all ultimately didn’t come together…, it just didn’t ultimately creatively all work.”
Similar issues were raised in Screen Rant's Mockingbird Lane pilot review; to quote our Kevin Yeoman, "[it] feels like Fuller is holding something back." There was certainly room for improvement down the line, but it also sounds as though the show deemed too much of a niche product (which, as mentioned before, NBC is consciously moving away from).
Greenblatt went on to sing praises for the Mockingbird Lane cast:
"We felt great about [Jerry O’Connell as family patriarch Herman Munster, Portia de Rossi as his wife Lily, Eddie Izzard as Grandpa, and Charity Wakefield as cousin Marilyn]. But we tried to make it not just a sitcom. We tried to make it an hour, which ultimately has more dramatic weight than a half-hour. It’s hard to calibrate how much weirdness vs. supernatural vs. family story. I just think we didn’t get the mix right.”
Lastly, the NBC head refused to deny the possibility that The Munsters could get another re-imagining somewhere down the line. However, taking everything into consideration, another reboot would take on the form of a more conventional small screen examination of modern American living through the experiences of its most ghoulish citizens. So don't expect Fuller's darkly whimsical vision to be resurrected, should that happen (no pun intended).
Community returns to the airwaves on Thursday, February 7th at 8/7c on NBC.