Thursday, 2 October 2014

Can the impervious COMMUNITY survive without three original actors?

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Has a sitcom ever had a more turbulent life than COMMUNITY? Creator Dan Harmon was fired after three seasons by NBC. The consequently dire fourth season faced a backlash from fans. Harmon was thus rehired, but Chevy Chase didn't return. Then Donald Glover upped sticks halfway through the fifth season, ahead of the show being axed by NBC. Only for it to be rescued for a sixth season by Yahoo online; which Jonathan Banks can't return to because of commitments to Better Call Saul. And now original star Yvette Nicole Brown has announced she won't be back, having decided to spent more time caring for his ailing father.

I'm starting to wonder if there's a moment when, basically, it's not worth bringing Community back because it's changed too much. We already know the show doesn't work without Harmon in charge, but will a sixth season without three original characters (Piers, Troy, Shirley) work? I know we still have the lead actor (Jeff), the majority of the women (Annie, Britta), the fan-favourite (Abed), plus popular support (The Dean) and unpopular support (Chang), but it will be a very different show without three of the faces you associate with the show.

I could deal with the loss of Chevy Chase, mainly because the show marginalised Piers a great deal before he decided to go. But I don't think it was a coincidence season 5 dipped in quality once Troy wasn't around; not least because he was part of a double-act with Abed. To be completely honest, losing Shirley isn't a death-blow, because she was never that integral to anything, but I'll miss her mother hen presence and Miss Piggy voice.

There's a good chance Shirley will appear in a guest-star capacity for season 6, and word has it that Dan Harmon's trying to lure Donald Glover back full-time (has his music career taken off with Childish Gambino?), but they're also looking for actors to replace Shirley and Professor Buzz Hickey (who sort of replaced Piers last season as 'the older grouchy one'). It's going to be a different Greendale study group next year, that's for sure. I just hope all the changes work, and possibly even improve on what came before.

However, if Community fulfils its mantra to make a feature film next (however it's funded and distributed), one hopes this missing trio of original actors will return. I'd even like Chase back in flashbacks, or whatever. And then we can start fretting about the post-movie season 7, when Alison Brie and Gillian Jacobs decide they want out...