‘Community’s’ fourth-season premiere pushed back: Is the show doomed to fail?

Anne T. Donahue
·Blogger

NBC announced Monday night that instead of premiering on Oct. 19 as planned, "Community's" fourth-season debut (as well as "Whitney's" second season) would be pushed back until further notice. This news comes some months after "Community's" removal from the current Thursday night line-up, but may signal NBC's re-affirmed faith in the series, considering a Friday night airtime can be a glorified death sentence.

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For a network currently riding high on the moderate successes of new shows like "Go On," "The New Normal," and "Revolution," giving "Community" another shot could add to NBC's growing strength in the fall TV season.

"Given the success we've had for the past four weeks, we've decided to continue to concentrate our promotional strength on our new NBC shows that are scheduled Monday through Friday," the network said in a statement. "Without having to launch these comedies on Friday at this time, we can keep our promotion focused on earlier in the week -- plus we will have both comedies in our back pocket if we need to make any schedule changes on those nights."

New premiere dates for "Whitney" and "Community" haven't been announced, leaving fans of the latter in the dark.

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Unfortunately, "Community" has been plagued with drama throughout its run. After a hiatus earlier in the year, showrunner Dan Harmon was unceremoniously dismissed following a blowout with Chevy Chase, leaving the series' future in the hands of network executives and, eventually, new showrunners David Guarascio and Moses Port. Yet while both have recently sung the praises of the cast, writers, and the show's potential, one can't help but think delaying "Community" yet again is simply the next step in the series' painful death march.

A show without its creator will not be the same (just look at "The West Wing" following Aaron Sorkin's departure at the end of the fourth season), and Chevy Chase's public disdain for Harmon and "Community" itself could indicate even more rising tensions between the cast and the writing staff. After years of near-cancellation and, now, being pushed back again, "Community's" may have been beaten down to the point of being unable to bounce back.

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But that theory doesn't give credit to the actors and writers who are removed from the politics. Following last year's rumour that the show might get cancelled, the Internet rallied to save "Community" (or, at the very least, get "six seasons and a movie"), which helped prove just how much the series means and how relevant it is to its fans. If there were no attachment to the characters or to their story lines, nobody would care about "Community's" future, and the show would merely go quietly into the night. But that's simply not the case -- once again, "Community" fans are vocal in their discontent.

So, here's hoping NBC has pushed the series premiere back as an act of faith. It would be easy to let it slip away following a few subtle Friday night airings, but instead, the network is braving a media storm in an attempt to keep "Community" afloat. If fans believe in it so much, maybe NBC does, too.