Here’s what we know about the future of Community: it will return for 13 episodes at some undetermined point next year to NBC for a fifth (and likely final) season…and that’s about it. The best guess is that it’ll fill in for an unsuccessful new show in February or March, which gives the writers and showrunners plenty of time to figure out what went wrong with season four. It wasn’t bad, mind you, with the exception of the finale; it just wasn’t Community.
It could easily right itself and return to its season two highs, however, with a little bit of help. Here are some suggestions on how Community can be “fixed,” other than having all the characters walk around topless for a whole season. Though that would bring in the ratings and critical admiration. Just sayin’.
1. Be your own show.
One of season four’s biggest problems was how fascinated with itself it was. Obviously shows have to work off the universe they’ve created in previous years (American Horror Story being the rare exception), but things came to a standstill this season — the same jokes and concepts were told the same way over and over again. Jeff gives speeches, Pierce is old, Britta is a fickle feminist, Abed Abed Abed, etc. Showrunners Moses Port and David Guarascio seemed afraid to make the show their own; they kept dishing out previously established fan service (another The Cape shout-out?), which is fine in small doses, but eventually, the audience will crave something more, something new. Don’t reference paintball just because you had success with it two years ago. Shake things up.
2. Keep Dan Harmon away.
The odds of this happening are about 0.0003%, but according to an unsourced Deadline report:
When NBC renewed the show last May, it still had creator Dan Harmon as showrunner and Chevy Chase as co-star. Immediately after the upfronts, Harmon was replaced with David Guarascio and Moses Port. Then in November, Chase too departed. The bitter feud between Chase and Harmon was a major factor in destabilizating of the show for a couple of seasons, leading to public outbursts and profane voice messages. Now that Chase is gone, emotions have cooled down and all sides involved have had time to reflect, there is speculation that Harmon may come back, especially if this turns out to be Community‘s final chapter. There are no deals in place but I hear there certainly is interest in bringing Harmon back in some capacity. (Via)
Again, Live Free or Fletch Hard has a better chance of becoming a blockbuster hit than Harmon does at returning to Community. He doesn’t want to, NBC and Sony don’t want him to, and as discussed above, it’s best to forget it was his show in the first place. Community needs to figure out what it is, not what it was, and that’s not possible with Harmon slumping his way back onto the set. He’s got his own series to fight with a network about.
3. Settle the romances.
TV viewers don’t flock to Community for the love triangles. Well, they don’t flock to Community at all, but you get the point. Despite an excellent performance from Alison Brie, Annie was a juvenile mess this season. She somehow resorted back to her innocent season one self, and her fawning over Jeff was a constant source of embarrassment, for both the actress and character. But Jeff kind of has the hots for her, but he also doesn’t, and then in the finale, there was a brief scene of him and Britta drinking together at a bar, for some reason, to say nothing of Troy and Britta’s shockingly underwritten relationship and Abed’s never-seen-again coat girl love. Decide who’s going to be with who early on and stick with that. Community isn’t Cheers; hell, it’s not even Parks and Recreation. It’s more about the concepts than the characters, and especially not the will they/won’t they’s.
4. The Jeff Winger Dilemma
So far, I’ve mostly focused on things Community shouldn’t do next season, not things they SHOULD do. Here’s a possible plot that may or may not be terrible, but I’ll at least try to be productive: Jeff has graduated Greendale, but he’s obviously not departing the show. He still has so many shirts to take off and phones to pretend to read. Community needs to find a way to keep him around Greendale, without resorting to, “Wow, it’s a good thing Jeff showed up during this episode’s climax to save the day with an off-the-cuff speech.” What if he become a professor at Greendale? God knows the Dean would approve that hire, and I guess Jeff teaching law would make some sense, at least enough to keep him on campus for 13 episodes or so. One more character problem the show might face next season: the absence of Pierce. But I think the Greendale Seven works as the Greendale Six, which is to say, don’t substitute Pierce with Chang. Still bitter about the ultimately pointless Changnesia/City College arc.
5. NO MORE INSPECTOR GODDAMN SPACETIME.
That ship has sailed…right into the sun, where it combusted into a billion boring pieces.