Fans of NBC's ratings-challenged-but-zealously-beloved sitcom Community simply can't catch a break. Just 11 days before the comedy was scheduled to air its fourth season premiere on Friday, Oct. 19, NBC has delayed the show's return — along with the premiere of fellow sitcom Whitney — indefinitely. (Watch a commercial for Community's season premiere below.) The news is just the latest setback for Community, which drew heaps of negative headlines when the series' showrunner, Dan Harmon, was fired shortly after the third season ended — leading many fans to worry that Community's fourth season would feel like a different show altogether. Is this indefinite delay the final nail in Community's coffin?
Community is on its way out: After years of flagging ratings, NBC "has done better than the network could ever have expected" this fall, says Mack Rawden at CinemaBlend, and will be eager to drop some dead weight. New sitcoms Go On and The New Normal have earned solid ratings, and sci-fi drama Revolution is a certified hit. Clearly, NBC has decided "to focus all of its attention on continuing the current positive momentum" brought on by its new shows, not on propping up old ones.
"Is Community losing its premiere date a blessing in disguise?"
Actually, this is good news for Community: Don't start "sharpening your pitchforks and Mapquesting NBC headquarters" just yet, says Jenna Mullins at E! Online. This delay is actually a good thing. With an unusually crowded fall season, NBC is delaying Community and Whitney "to give them proper marketing support," indicating a renewed commitment to ensuring that the low-rated series find an audience. NBC isn't canceling Community; it's taking a few weeks to decide when the show should premiere. And if NBC is trying to figure out how to get more eyes on the show, they haven't given up on it yet.
"Community and Whitney premieres delayed"
It's other NBC comedies that ought to worry: The delay may frustrate Community fans, says Todd VanDerWerff at The AV Club, but it's "actually worse news for other shows," like Animal Practice and Guys With Kids, that have drawn less-than-stellar ratings since their premieres this fall. If NBC cancels one (or both) of those shows, it can fill the scheduling gap with Community, which has a small but passionate fan base that might be enough to "stanch the bleeding."
"NBC pulls Community from schedule because it wants to remind you that it can"