Save the date, Community fans. On May 17, NBC will air the final three episodes of the low-rated, passionately loved comedy. The first episode will air at 8 p.m., as usual, followed by an episode of 30 Rock. Then, strangely, the final two episodes of the Community season will air back-to-back at 9 p.m. What does it all mean? Critics are divided. Community is among several NBC series that has yet to be renewed for next season, and the decision could still go either way. Is this odd bulk scheduling an auspicious sign of renewal, or the precursor to a death sentence?
It's good news: May 17 is right in the middle of the lucrative, ultra-competitive TV sweeps season, when networks try to juice their ratings so they can sell ads throughout the year based on those higher numbers, says Drusilla Moorhouse at E! Online. Clearly, NBC has faith in Community, as networks typically save the best episodes of their best series for sweeps.
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It's bad news: Bundling multiple installments of a show together typically "suggests a network is trying to burn off episodes of a failed show," says Duane Dudek at the Journal Sentinel. Community's ratings have never been impressive, and the comedy has "a troubled history" — factors that will likely lead to cancellation. It's a shame, too. Last week's episode, a parody of Law & Order, "may have been one of the best episodes of the season for any TV comedy."
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Don't read too much into it: How you view this news depends on whether "you see the world as a glass half full or half empty," says Brody Gibson at Boom Tron. This isn't the first time NBC has tinkered with Community's schedule. Remember when NBC unceremoniously yanked the comedy from its mid-season lineup? Critics worriedly tried to read meaning into that move, too. The bottom line is "NBC just needed to fill space" in its schedule. So let's just celebrate that on May 17 we're all in for "90 minutes of awesome."
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