Six seasons and a movie?
Six seasons, a movie, and then a seventh season?
Six seasons and goodbye?
Where exactly do things stand with “Community”?
The sitcom wrapped its sixth season, and first as part of Yahoo Screen, with an episode that felt even more like a series finale than any of the previous maybe-kinda-sorta finales. (Spoilers follow.) “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” had Jeff and the other characters speculating on what a “season 7” of their adventures might look like, and which characters would be a part of it. Jeff eventually made peace with the idea that he’ll likely be the last member of the original study group still at Greendale, and he sent Abed and Annie off for new job opportunities in Hollywood and with the FBI, respectively. On top of that, Gillian Jacobs and Ken Jeong already have new series jobs lined up.
At an LA Times event on Tuesday, creator Dan Harmon was asked if there might be a seventh season, with the interviewer using the “maybe, probably” phrasing that was peppered through the finale. His response:
“Maybe, probably, maybe… But always okay if [there”s] nothing else. We’ve done a lot. And I love the amount of work the actors get done with their faces… You can see on Alison Brie’s face so much that we wouldn”t be able to write when she says, ‘Seventh season? We don’t know. There’s a lot of variables.’ She shares a quick look with Jeff and it’s not sexual. It’s just filled with promise and romance and possibility. And I think that’s such a great way to go out if we’re going out. And a great place to pick it up from if we don’t go out.”
Earlier the same day, TV Insider’s Mike Schneider asked Harmon about what the future of this universe might be, and Harmon said:
We’ve exploded into these successful shrapnel. Dr. Ken is now “Dr. Ken.” Alison (Brie) has probably got her eye on movies. Gillian is working on a Netflix show. If there was some magical way of guaranteeing that everyone could come back all at once, let’s do it. But it would be a lot easier to put together a movie project and get them all on board than to say, “Let’s give it one more season!”
Yahoo has declined to commit to anything, beyond giving reporters a statement that reads, “With the season six finale of ‘Community’ airing today, we’re continually excited by how much fans are engaging with the series. Now that all episodes are available for binge viewing, stay tuned for how we keep ‘Community’ delighting its fans.”
It’s not even clear how well the show has performed for Yahoo. Harmon has talked about getting good numbers from the bosses at Yahoo, but they’ve otherwise declined to follow the path their counterparts at Netflix and Amazon have taken, where they could boast about how good the numbers are without ever actually revealing those numbers. If Harmon’s telling (or been told) the truth, wouldn’t Yahoo be bragging in the same maddeningly vague way the other streaming outfits do?
At the same time, executives at Honda – whose product line was heavily plugged in this season’s “Advanced Safety Features” – told Adweek’s Jason Lynch that they were “very happy” with the product integration deal and would like to see it continue. Asked if he knew what the Yahoo ratings have been like, one said, “I’m still waiting to see the total numbers myself, but the initial buzz is way beyond expectations.”
Certainly, the structure of the finale, the ambitions and obligations of the remaining castmembers, and Harmon’s own statements would suggest that if “Community” continues as a TV show, it would be with a predominantly, if not entirely, new cast, perhaps in the style of “Scrubs Med,” the final-season-as-pseudo-spinoff of “Scrubs.”(*)
(*) That season gets a bad rap from “Scrubs” fans, but most of what was wrong with it involved the way it used the returning characters, and particularly J.D. The episodes focusing on the med students were pretty good, and got stronger the longer that season ran. I’m not saying that’s a reason to do a “Community: The New Class” season, but it’s also not the cautionary tale some would claim it to be, especially if you can look at the new version as separate from the original.
Harmon hasn’t done any other press, but what I’ve heard from a source close to the show is that, as Harmon suggests, a movie – to be streamed on Yahoo Screen, possibly with a small theatrical release – is the most likely of all the options, and that some kind of seventh season is in play.
Like I said after the finale debuted on Tuesday, Harmon, Chris McKenna and company already ended “Community” as well as they possibly could have, especially at this late date and with several original castmembers long gone (albeit with a cameo appearance by Yvette Nicole Brown). Much as I would miss Annie and Abed – and much as the show would really miss Abed’s running commentary on the pop culture tropes being explored that week – it feels like time for them to go, and for this iteration of the universe to end. If Harmon has a genuinely great idea for a movie – as opposed to something he’s cobbled together because he still feels an obligation to bring season 2’s “six seasons and a movie” throwaway joke to life – and if all the schedules work out, swell.
But all TV shows end eventually – even in an era when “Twin Peaks,” “The X-Files” and even “Coach” are getting sequel series – and the lucky ones get to end while they’re still good. The Yahoo season of “Community” was uneven at times, but also closed with a trio of terrific episodes (including another paintball contest and another documentary). And later character additions like Buzz Hickey, Frankie Dart, and Elroy Patashnik showed Harmon’s ability to integrate new people into this universe, even if they were supported by all our old favorites.
If more “Community” – whether a movie, a new season, or both – is good, then I’ll be happy to watch. But Abed Nadir would be the first one to tell Jeff and everyone else about the danger of keeping a TV show going just to keep it going.
Now that the premiere has sunk in and Harmon has spoken a little bit, what does everybody else think about the possible future of Greendale, or lack thereof?