'Community' is back (but they're not getting cocky)
March 15th, 2012
05:12 PM ET

'Community' is back (but they're not getting cocky)

It was the "Community" fans' winter of discontent.

Ever since the end of last year, the NBC comedy's most faithful viewers kept hope alive by tweeting "#sixseasonsandamovie", creating fan art and fan videos, and wearing the occasional felt beard.

Finally, on Thursday night, the show they love is back on the air! But that doesn't mean creator Dan Harmon is resting on his laurels. He realizes that he is returning to one of the most difficult timeslots of the week.

"[Thursday nights at 8 is] a tough slot, and I've always felt that way. I've always been proud to plant our feet there and take a kidney punch week after week," he recently told reporters. "Always been ecstatic that we're chosen to stand there with our bayonet and experience terror under this [NBC] peacock banner that I'm so proud to stand under. That they would choose us to go into those front trenches and look at the whites of the enemies eyes, as long as there's an understanding that that's what the environment is."

"30 Rock's" ratings, in that slot since January (it moves to 8:30 p.m. ET/PT tonight), weren't great either.

"I did not like being put in the position where I was rooting for a fellow creative's bad fortune at all," Harmon said. "I think that there's probably room for everybody to get entertained, and to entertain. But at the same time, yes obviously...I was relieved to see that my suspicion that that environment temporally was a little bit hazardous to anybody [was right]. 'American Idol' is a juggernaut. More so than 'Big Bang Theory.' That thing just ate us alive; it's a killer."

Series star Joel McHale admitted that it's been "weird" to look at "Community's" ratings each week, keeping in mind that the target audience may be more difficult to measure in the Nielsens.

"At the time the show was on we would be a trending topic worldwide [on Twitter]," he said. "And that to me showed the great sincerity in the viewers – in reality, there's a huge number of people that, I think, watch."

Harmon once said that "Community's" third season would be the darkest one yet. "It turned out to be right, because the show itself in a sense suffered a cardiac arrest [when it went on hiatus]," he explained. "That energy trickles into the writer's room when you've got a guy like me, who thrives on constant affirmation. A big spoiled baby who's so used to the show airing once a week and us getting that feedback and having that ego stroke."

Harmon also addressed the popularity of the episode that launched 1,000 internet memes: the timeline episode.

"I thought there was an equal chance that people were going to, you know, retch at it, because it was a conceptual episode that mainly focused on people eating pizza," he said.

"I'll be the first to admit I never know what people are going to like and not like...And the one thing that I've always been able to rely upon is the audience's love of the actors. We've been dreading episodes that people have gone through the roof for. The 'Dungeons and Dragons' episode was not a popular dance partner politically, so there was a scramble to cut its throat with some of the halls of the corporate buildings, because it was a nerdy topic. It was that we kept saying goblins. 'Stop it, stop saying sword.'"

It's "Community's" commitment to a vision that fans (and TV critics) seem to appreciate, and Harmon is always astounded at how fans show their love for the show online.

"There are the ones that blow you away, because the only way this person could have possibly meticulously gone through all the footage of our show, and assembled this particular thing is if they cared about the show almost literally more than me," he said. "There's a video on YouTube that is edited to the tune of one of Donald [Glover]'s 'Childish Gambino' songs called 'Freaks and Geeks.' Every syllable, every word of Donald's rap is reflected in some piece of imagery from 'Community' in multiple boxes that go to the beat, and it is spectacular. I don't think our entire editing staff would have time to put that together if we had to broadcast it. It would be too big a project for them. And someone just did it by themselves."

Just like the show's study group, this comedy attracts viewers of all stripes, from creative artists and video editors to people who just like quality TV – even if their first and last name are remarkably similar.

[Full disclosure: Of course, this being a call with a comedy writer and one of the best known comedians in Hollywood, it wasn't entirely serious – not by a long shot.

In fact, Harmon and McHale were very curious as to why this reporter's name, shortened, could be said as "Hank Hanks." "Why would your parents do that? If your last name is Hanks why would they name you Henry?" Harmon asked, and McHale even offered to call my parents to get to the bottom of it.

The discussion then went over to Twitter briefly. (And just to clear it up, I'm a junior, and my father goes by the middle name of "Doug.")]

soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Frijole Discoteca

    Does anyone remember that crazy show about nothing back in the day?... I think it was called Seinfield. And of course we think the Community is as good as Big Bang fans think theirs is.... we're called fans and if we like it, we'll brag about it. I think Community kicks ass. My little niece thinks Yo Gabba Gabba kicks ass and I'm not going to spoil her love of the show. We all have different tastes, so why rain on someone else's parade when you have one of your own to enjoy? #sixseasonsandamovie

    March 23, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kickpuncher

    Community sucks. As you all saw in its comeback premiere.

    March 17, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ColumnAColumnB

    Is it somehow impossible for someone to like both Big bang theory and Community? Are comic tastes that narrow in the world?

    March 16, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JJH

    This show is so streets ahead of Big Bang Theory. I just can't understand how that show even gets viewers.

    March 16, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Chris


    March 16, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Snorlax

    NBC has been going downhill ever since they cancelled "Caroline in the City"...

    March 16, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Spacetime

    I'm so glad that Community is back! I think that the reason that Community has a hard time atteracting the audience of shows like Big Bang is the same reason that Arrested Development failed to find an audience. Both shows require work from the viewer. Don't get me wrong, I love all three series. However, I'm pretty sure that I get all of the jokes the first time I watch an episode of Big Bang. I have sat down to re-watch episodes of AD and Community and found completly new layers of comedy that I didn't even notice before. While that's what I and other fans of both series love about them, I think that's exactly what drives away the average viewer. Most people don't want to watch an episode of a show three times; they want a show that is strait forward and blunt with it's comedy.

    March 16, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  8. Gary from Atlanta

    Great Show, Glad it is back. Love the fact that they take risks. Big Bang is good but they have fallen into a formula they can't break out of. Still watch both but community has moments of brilliance. I will never understand how people can watch Idol. It is a real housewives, Jersey Shore, and star search all together. Three terrible shows combined does not make one good one.

    March 16, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  9. JennyGs Dad

    NEVER feed the troll

    March 16, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  10. MarcS

    Community is a wonderfully funny show that needs to stay on air(At least until they are sure they run out of jokes so they don't run it into the ground EX. Simpsons, Family Guy)
    Seeing Community go on hiatus reminded me all too well of Scrubs' end. We need more comedies that don't rely on laugh tracks to get a laugh out of watchers.

    March 16, 2012 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
  11. Gerald

    I like Community and 30 Rock. The characters in Big Bang however are one dimensional and a bit forced. IMO

    March 16, 2012 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
  12. jennygsucksmynutz

    Six seasons and a movie.
    Love , Kickpuncher

    March 16, 2012 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
  13. Samantha

    Skaytn, throw in some Xanax and a little lithium and she/he might be ready to be seen in public.

    March 16, 2012 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
  14. smath

    What about Hanging With Mr. Cooper? Grace Under Fire? Men In Trees? I think I don't really need to beat you over the head with more my dear Jenny. I hope you realize you've met your match, and I despise you and all like you who think they can bad mouth Community or it's community. I wish the worse in life for you all!!!

    March 15, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Marilyn

    I am also glad community is back, wanted to watch the interview with Joel but cannot stand Rosie's face.

    March 15, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sara

      There was another person in that interview? I only saw *dreamysigh* Joel.

      March 16, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  16. nerp

    I never watched it, but I'm going to start, and Joel McHale is awesome, love "The Soup". Still a really funny show.

    March 15, 2012 at 9:42 pm | Report abuse |
  17. ComeOnMan9

    Community makes me feel hopeful about the state of TV. This show is the sh it!

    March 15, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  18. JennyG

    The show leaving the air for a bit was no surprise – TV never respects a truly well-written show until long after it's been cancelled. The fact it's returning is a boon I had not anticipated. Community is as good as Big Bang fans think their show is. Hint – if you need a laugh track, it's not funny.

    March 15, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • JennyG

      Hint – If it gets cancelled, it's not funny. That is why reality cancelled Chevy Chase.

      March 15, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • smath

      Wow Jenny, there are so many examples to disprove your "if it's cancelled, it's not funny" theory. Apparently you don't like the show. Okay!

      March 15, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • JennyG

      So many examples, yet none given. Keep up the good work! Okay! XD

      March 15, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • smath

      What about Hanging With Mr. Cooper? Grace Under Fire? Men In Trees? I think I don’t really need to beat you over the head with more my dear Jenny. I hope you realize you’ve met your match, and I despise you and all like you who think they can bad mouth Community or it’s community. I wish the worse in life for you all!!!

      March 15, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • JennyG

      Much anger, smath? It's only a forgettable show. Jeez.

      March 15, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • smath

      No you Imbecile. It is probably the greatest prime time comedy ever produced. Better than Seinfeld? Check. Better than Big Bang? Check. Better than 30 Rock? Oh hell yes.

      March 15, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • JennyG

      Lol. Okay. You win? Lol again.

      March 15, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • JennyG is the Britta of trolls

      Ugh, you're the worst.

      March 15, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Wow – this Jenny is a real b**tch. Great shows get cancelled alll the time, the world is not simple as good shows stay and bad shows go. Nothing is like that.

      And Smath – you're an idiot. You actually just said that Community is better than Seinfeld was. That's probably one of the dumbest things that I have ever heard.

      Community is OK, and that is all.

      March 16, 2012 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Rose

      You can't seriously say EVERY TV series ever cancelled sucked... What about shows that are cancelled because the actors want to move on? I know of a show cancelled suddenly because it's lead actor died suddenly from Cancer. At least make a proper statement. And most Community fans hate TBBT. I don't but comparing TBBT to Community is ridiculous especially as Community doesn't have a laugh track and is an entirely different show in nearly every way. It's like comparing an apple to a pear, they might be fruit but they're not the same at all. And who are you to say you know anything about the show? You could've watched one episode for all we know and not know a thing about what makes the showor why it's amazing to us. I can work with a legitimate (AND TRUE) criticism other than, "it got terrible at ... Point" which isn't but straight out bagging a show for no good reason makes you an instant troll and a sad person for reading the article at all. If you find something annoying say it and more often then not you'll find that you missed or didn't have enough context to get it. There's a big chance we might disagree but there's also a chance we'll accept it. I hate Two and a Half Men, I never go onto their articles to bag the show. Actually I never go onto them in the first place.

      I'm sorry but this show isn't said to be an amazing show by critics and fans for nothing. Whether you like it or not you have to be stupid not to see any reason why this show is loved and adored by people. Sure the fans can be pushy, defensive and never stop talking about it but as soon as someone were to say, "I'll try it and not just for one episode." they tell you you're the best and thank you. Better yet saying you saw it and liked it makes you a heap of friends. Just as other crazy fans of any other show/ Movie etc. it's like a... club/family. Exclusive to people who like the show, squabble over stupid things a lot, but mostly just there to love the show. Just as I'm sure there are many different reasons why you love your shows to us it doesn't make our reasons stupid. Community is very hard to just walk in on and like. Just by watching the ads I would never watch the show. I might not have even from the best episode. I was actually bored and had a faint memory of my brother showing me a clip and me being intrigued and watched the clips on youtube. After seeing it all I decided I'd got my initial (while good) interpretation of the show wrong and after it was pieced together I just got it. And loved it.

      March 20, 2012 at 7:03 am | Report abuse |
  19. nickolai

    six seasons and a movie people!

    March 15, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • barrett

      Community WAS the best comedy on tv... up to about half was through season 2. Then it got way too mean-spirited, with too much relationship stuff, the characters became one note caricatures, there was not enough time in the study room (those were always the best scenes), and, well, Chang as a pathetic psychopath was sad, not funny. I have a pretty dry, sardonic, even mean sense of humor, but the show made me cringe it got so mean. It just wasn't the same show anymore and I stopped watching and never looked back. Sad to have it fall so far, so fast, but it went from amazing to completely lame. And reading this interview with Harmon confirms what I'd always thought, he's a narcissistic egomaniac. Sounds like a really unpleasant human being that I could not spend 10 seconds with without running screaming from the room. Reading this interview with him makes me sick. I'd rather pull my own eyes out than talk to this guy for 5 minutes. 6 seasons and a movie, my right arm. SHOW SUCKS NOW!!

      March 16, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Liz

    I am so glad that Community is returning! It is a consistently clever show and a breath of fresh air compared to some of the canned sitcoms on nowadays.

    March 15, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Observer is an idiot

    Mad men? Just like the rest of the sheep. Masogynism is so cool. That show lost its lure after Season 2 and is only followed by coffee house intellectuals who are told how great it is. Community is probably the smartest/wittiest comedy on tv. I'm glad NBC came to its senses!

    March 15, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • JennyG

      Community? Just like the rest of the sheep. Mediocrity is so cool. That show lost its lure after Chevy Chase and is only followed by CNN intellectuals who are told how great it is. For example: "Community is probably the smartest/wittiest comedy on tv. I’m glad NBC came to its senses!"

      See what I've done?

      March 15, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Observer

    The entire NBC Thursday night schedule needs to be done over. Get rid of 30 Rock, and Community and put on reruns of "Mad Men".

    March 15, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |

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