School's back in session at Community, which has received an 11th hour order to return for a sixth season via Yahoo. A sixth season of 13 episodes will be available exclusively on Yahoo Screen.
That indeed means that the show's clarion call — "Six seasons and a movie," first uttered as a joke by Abed (Danny Pudi) in a Season 2 episode — is that much closer to reality.
The fate of Community looked bleak after NBC decided not to renew the show for one final semester. But Sony Pictures TV, which produces the show with Universal Television but takes lead in negotiating matters — is known for crafty dealmaking in resurrecting shows back from the dead. The studio found a way to bring back CBS' Unforgettable, for example, by turning it into a summer show for the Eye network, and also came up with a unique model to keep FX's Damages alive by partnering with DirecTV (which eventually became that show's sole home).
A negotiation with Hulu, which has syndicated rights to the show, ultimately couldn't pan out. That's when Yahoo stepped in.
"I am very pleased that Community will be returning for its predestined sixth season on Yahoo," Harmon said in a statement. "I look forward to bringing our beloved NBC sitcom to a larger audience by moving it online. I vow to dominate our new competition. Rest easy, Big Bang Theory. Look out, Bang Bus!"
Said star Joel McHale: "The reports of our cancelation have been greatly exaggerated." ---Mark Twain (The other version of this quote has been wrong for years). # SixSeasonsAndaMovie is real. Thank you Sony. Thank you Yahoo. Thank you Dan Harmon. And thank you to the greatest f%$#ing fans in the history of the human race. It's the internet. We can swear now."
On his Tumblr site, creator Dan Harmon admitted that he was initially ambivalent about a renewal when Sony first approached him with the idea. But he wasn't opposed to it: "I'm not going to be the guy that recancels cancelled Community," he wrote. "There are lots of reasons a Community resurrection could be difficult. So be prepared for that... If you want to know the God's honest truth, part of my 'eh' was coming from the unsettling thought of your passion for campaigns being once again exploited by this rather unfair, somewhat backward system, one that now treats you like it's your responsibility to keep a show alive, like a corporation is doing you a favor by feeding you low grade opiate through a regulated tube. Like you owe them an apology when they can't measure or monetize you to their satisfaction. You deserve better."
Beyond the renewal, talk of a Community movie remains. As TV Guide Magazine first reported last spring, Justin Lin, who directed the last four movies in the Fast & Furious franchise, is a contender to helm the feature.
"If the movie has to be made out of clay and duct tape in my basement, then that's how the movie will be made, because there has to be closure," Harmon told Hitfix. "The title of the book about the show is not Community, An Interesting Journey into a Show No One Ever Watched. The title of the book is obviously going to be, Six Seasons and a Movie."
The show's fifth season ended in April with Greendale Community College narrowly avoiding a shutdown at the hands of Subway, which planned to turn it into Subway University. Jeff (Joel McHale) was offered a job by the sandwich conglomerate, while Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) told Annie (Alison Brie) and Abed about the secret of Greendale's first dean (guest star Chris Elliott), which ultimately helped save the school. Meanwhile, Jeff and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) flirted with marriage.