Although NBC was set to return Community to its new time slot next Friday, that doesn’t appear to be the case anymore. The network has decided to postpone the debut of the fourth season of Community, as well as its Friday night timeslot partner, Whitney until an unspecified date.
On the record, according to THR, NBC is saying that it’s because the network has been so busy launching new shows that it hasn’t had enough lead-up time to appropriately market the return of Community. I’m guessing that’s probably B.S., because NBC barely marketed the series when it was on Thursdays. Why bother now that it’s been dumped on to Friday nights, especially when the Grimm rerun is likely to fare better in the time slot, anyway?
In fact, it’s more likely that NBC may actually rethink airing Community on Friday, hold it, and eventually air it on Thursdays, likely in Up All Night’s stead (so far, Up All Night is the lowest ratings performer on an already low-rated night for NBC). Either show, Whitney in particular (because it was a Wednesday show last season) could also fill some holes on Wednesday, where Animal Practice and Guys with Kids are both underperforming. NBC seems to bolster this theory with their own press statement:
“Given the success we’ve had for the past four weeks – including winning the first week of the season in A18-49 – we’ve decided to continue to concentrate our promotional strength on our new NBC shows that are scheduled Monday through Wednesday and have therefore decided to hold Community and Whitney from their previously announced premieres of October 19th. Without having to launch these comedies on Friday at this time, we can keep our promotion focused on earlier in the week — plus we will have both comedies in our back pocket if we need to make any schedule changes on those nights. When we have a better idea of viewing patterns in the next few weeks, we will announce new season premieres of Whitney and Community.”
With only 13 episodes ordered, it doesn’t seem out of the question that NBC may just hold it until January and use it to help launch a new show like 1600 Penn or Dane Cook’s Next Caller (or vice versa: Use one of those shows to bolster Community’s return). They may just hold on to it and put it in 30 Rock’s slot at the end of its short 13 episode season. One thing is for certain: They won’t move Community earlier than Thursday because, at the moment, the Monday through Wednesday schedule basically represents the new NBC, while Thursday represents the old. They don’t want the stink of the old NBC schedule — and Community — tainting their new toys, Go On, New Normal, and Revolution.
Whatever the scenario, it ultimately seems unlikely that Community will ever air on Friday nights. Personally, I’m willing to wait a few extra weeks — or months — if it means Community has a better chance of being seen and, even possibly, being extended. It is a shame, however, that we’ll have to wait to see that Hunger Games parody.