Happy New TV Year! With the Winter Olympics only a little more than a month away, the networks are wasting no time premiering new and returning shows through January, making this almost as busy a month for programming as the heights of September. Let the winter midseason begin.
BACK TO SCHOOL: Some underdogs adopt a never-say-die mentality. In the fringe world of wackiness known as NBC's Community, it's more like never say graduate, as the cult comedy returns for an against-the-odds fifth season with back-to-back episodes (Thursday, 8/7c) once again under the warped tutelage of mercurial series creator Dan Harmon. (For more on his and the show's comeback, go here.)
Fans of Community are understandably wary about the fifth season, given the fairly hollow simulacra that aired last spring. But with the return of creator Dan Harmon, the show has regained the sense of deliberate chaos and freewheeling playfulness that originally earned it such a devoted (and vocal) fan base.
For Harmon's unprecedented return, you can thank none other than Joel McHale, who played a crucial role in NBC bringing back the controversial showrunner. Comparing Harmon to Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad) and Mitch Hurwitz (Arrested Development), both of whom are guest-starring this season, McHale preached the benefits of letting a series be dictated by a singular vision. "There was some really good stuff last year, but it did not....
NBC couldn't kill Community, even if it tried — and it definitely tried. But lengthy hiatuses and unusual scheduling (including Thanksgiving and Christmas episodes airing last spring) wouldn't destroy it. A controversial decision to replace creator Dan Harmon as showrunner last season couldn't slay it. Even all that Twitter chatter about "six seasons and a movie" didn't jinx it.
"Community is like a Twinkie," says Yvette Nicole Brown, who plays Shirley, perhaps the sweetest of the community-college study-group members who form the show's heart. "The shelf life of this show has defied odds."
Though Jeff (Joel McHale) seemingly got his happy ending he finally graduated from Greendale last year, judging by the first trailer forCommunity's fifth season, it was all downhill from there.
The lawyer has apparently hit hard times (in case his new beard didn't make that clear enough). In fact, his law career is looking so grim that Jeff decides that going back to Greendale is a better option. Only now the student has become the teacher.
Judging from Sunday's Comic-Con panel for the fifth season of Community, it will be the comedy's most bombastic.
Reinstated showrunner Dan Harmon arrived on stage with great fanfare in a homemade Iron Man costume, which had to be removed with the help of cast members Jim Rash and Danny Pudi. Riffing on Iron Man alter ego Tony Stark's penchant for arrogant oration, Harmon launched into a speech that would have humbled the fictional billionaire playboy inventor. Here are highlights of the speech, which also addressed his absence from the show last year and his triumphant return: