The Darkest Timeline: NBC vs. Community

The head of NBC is desperately trying to get its parent company to sell NBC by producing horrible programming while neglecting other shows.

Oh, sorry, that’s the season arc of Community‘s (former) Thursday primetime buddy, 30 Rock.

All of my god-awful openings aside, Community is getting some horrible treatment from whoever is trying to to be Jack Donaghy at NBC. While internal problems between Dan Harmon and Chevy Chase and…well everyone else and Chevy Chase have been long-rumored, NBC hasn’t made it easy either.

The 2009 premiere of the Community was promising, bringing in about 8 million viewers, retaining 93% of the declining Office’s viewership. Like most shows, the finale viewing totals were much farther off than the premiere’s, at a relatively paltry 4.41 million, but averaged 5 million a night overall. It may not have helped that the show was dropped after only a couple of weeks from its 9:30 p.m. time slot  to a 8 p.m. one. It also may not have helped that The Office and 30 Rock were in a bit of creative slump as well.

The next years continued the trend of waning popularity, averaging 4.44 and 4.03 million viewers in season two and three, respectively. Community‘s overall ranking for those two seasons was 138th and 144th, certainly ranking below plenty of less critically acclaimed shows.

Of course there was the November 2011 announcement of a the mid-season hiatus that really showed that NBC was taking of the kid gloves and putting on the big boy gauntlets. Cue the lash back.

Twitter blew up with trends, including the hashtags #SaveCommunity and #OccupyNBC. College Humor even got the main cast together to make a wonderful, hilarious promotional video to get the show back on the air. Though, you can tell from its YouTube view count, that it didn’t receive that much exposure either.

However, the big win for community during it’s second-to-third season stretch is that it won the people’s Comedy of the Year via TV Guide, giving the cast room to deservedly plug saving their show. For a week at least…

The hiatus came at both a bad, yet opportune time for the show, as it was coming off some really strong episodes. But none stronger than “Remedial Chaos Theory.”

The episode is a perfect snapshot of Community. Throwing away all sitcom conventions, this episode followed six different timelines that all resulted in some sort of conflict between characters. None darker than the one that resulted in Pierce’s death and Abed in a goatee.

This goatee more or less became a symbol for diehard Community fans as everyone from Twitterers to flash mobs began using it as way of saying the show’s cancellation would be the darkest timeline.

On January 6, 2012, an NBC Chairman announced that the show was not cancelled, and on February 21, show runner Dan Harmon announced via Twitter that community would return again in March. Despite the great support from fans during the hiatus, the viewership hit an all-time low, with under 3 million by the season finale.

However, in a head-scratcher of a move, NBC put three episodes together (not well-connected episodes, either) for the finale in a single night. They were all great episodes, including one that is currently spawning a videogame, but received no love from the masses in terms of primetime viewership.

Cue season 4. The show is set to move to Friday, where its viewership is assumed to continue to fall. Dan Harmon has been fired, producers have left, and actor/writer Dino Stamatopoulos is gone. STARBURNS, (“my name’s Alex!”) WHY MUST YOU LEAVE US?

 

So since NBC forced their hand, everything must be at one in the Community world, right? Wrong. The show had an already delayed season premiere, originally planned for October 19, after The OfficeParks and Recreation, and 30 Rock had aired a couple episodes of their latest seasons. Then, just a couple of days ago, NBC announced that it is delaying the new season indefinitely. The move could put the show on a better night, but regardless, it’s paired with the dreadful Whitney.

Despite promise of a better night, this has dealt a serious blow to the Community…err..community? This will surely (don’t call me Shirley) bring out some more backlash, and people like Blake Griffin are even showing their support.

 

If NBC drops the show, it could face the fate of one of Abed’s favorite show (no, not six seasons and movie), Cougar Townwhich recently made the jump from ABC to TBS. It would hardly be considered a loss if fans had to change networks for the show versus cancellation, but Community fans are still asking themselves a familiar question…

…is this the darkest timeline?

 

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