Five seasons and a movie? NBC cancels ‘Community’

Hey “Community” fans, would you settle for five seasons and a movie, now that NBC has declined to renew the cult comedy for a sixth season?

The existence of this fifth season was already improbable. Sony fired “Community” creator Dan Harmon after season 3, and the already poor ratings dipped even lower for the Harmon-less season 4. But somehow, NBC and Sony came to an agreement on a fifth, and even more surprisingly, Harmon was rehired to run it, and the show as significantly better for his presence (even if it lost steam by the end of the season).

The ratings, of course, were still awful, and though the already-renewed “Parks and Recreation” was hovering around the same level, that’s a show that NBC owns fully, whereas it only has a partial stake in “Community,” and that can be the difference when you’re operating on the ratings margins like this.

Of course, “Community” fans had been hoping for a renewal not only because they loved the show, but because of the whole “six seasons and a movie” idea, which started as a throwaway gag in season 2’s “Paradigms of Human Memory,” then became a fan battle cry as the show fought for its life each spring. Once Harmon returned for season 5, the crazy dream seemed within reach, and when I interviewed Harmon earlier this spring, he said he took the idea very seriously.

“The movie part is the movie part,” he told me. “I mean, if they do a sixth season, I have to participate. And having done that, if the movie has to be made out of clay and duct tape in my basement, then that”s how the movie will be made, because there has to be closure. The title of the book about the show is not ‘”Community,” An Interesting Journey into a Show No One Ever Watched.’ The title of the book is obviously going to be, ‘Six Seasons and a Movie.’ So it”s already over. Sometimes our hands are just tied up in fate.”

After that, there were news reports that Sony was seriously discussing a movie of some kind. Will it happen now? Might Netflix or Amazon swoop in to make season 6 and get some kind of stake in said film? It’s hard to say at this point, though I’m sure the “Community” fans will be beating down all doors and sending dice or paper fortune tellers or some other object to executives at all the usual suspects, in hopes of keeping the adventures of Jeff, Britta, Abed, Annie and Shirley going just a bit longer.

But if there’s going to be a future for “Community,” it won’t be on NBC.