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The phrase ‘six seasons and a movie’ has forever been thrown around with ‘Community’ and while six seasons have been achieved and a movie set to be made with Netflix, it has been a difficult process. And when you watch it can be hard to work out why.
Revolving around a study group at a community college – Jeff (Joel McHale), Britta (Gillian Jacobs), Annie (Alison Brie), Troy (Donald Glover/Childish Gambino), Abed (Danny Pudi), Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) and Pierce (Chevy Chase) – the diversity of the central cast as well as the ingenuity of some of the smaller characters make this a truly original programme. The plots become more and more surreal as the show progresses, from schoolwide paintball homages of classic films like Star Wars, to Dungeons and Dragons style episodes, pillow forts and a search for the notorious ‘Ass-Crack Bandit’, but the normality balances brilliantly with the bizarre.
The scene-stealing Dean of the college, Craig Pelton (Jim Rash) must undoubtedly get a mention, as do the antics of the increasingly insane Ben Chang (Ken Yeong) and the weird and wonderful supporting characters of Leonard (Richard Erdman), Garrett (Eric Charles Nielsen), Magnitude (Luke Youngblood) and Starburns (Dina Stamatopolous) to name a few.
The first three seasons each have over twenty episodes, and though episodic it maintains a consistent level of comedy. Yet despite the cult following it built, viewership was felt to have been declining and the seasons were cut to thirteen episodes with creator Dan Harmon (of Rick & Morty) being pushed out. Maybe they stretched too thin initially, but the absence of Harmon is notable with season four average and lacklustre.
Stick with it however, as Harmon’s return for the final two seasons helps revive the show, with season five being among the best. Due to various disputes or conflicting schedules it does haemorrhage characters by the end and NBC even dropped it only for Yahoo of all people to fund a sixth season. Apart from the ‘gas leak’ that appeared without Harmon, the show is clever enough to remain engaging in spite of problems.
The hope is that enough of the original cast return to make the movie as great as it deserves to be.