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The 'long-awaited' return of Community: Will it succeed?

NBC's quirky comedy will reclaim its old Thursday night timeslot in March — but, unless the cult show can broaden its audience, it won't be back for long

NBC faced the ire of a legion of devoted fans last fall when it unceremoniously yanked Community from its midseason lineup. Now, making amends, the struggling network is restoring the cult-favorite comedy to its old 8 p.m. Thursdays time slot, starting March 15. To make room, the network is shifting 30 Rock, its current 8 p.m. show, back to 8:30, and putting Parks and Recreation on hiatus until April. Though fans are celebrating Community's "long-awaited" return, some worry that the quirky show is being set up for failure in a timeslot that proved so problematic all last fall. Are such worries justified?

Community stands a real shot: Surprisingly, 30 Rock has been yielding even lower ratings than Community did in NBC's 8 p.m. slot, says Alan Sepinwall at HitFix. Indeed, 30 Rock's dismal ratings "have demonstrated that while Community isn't necessarily a mass appeal show, that's also not a time slot where NBC can expect much of anything this season." Upshot: If Community can cut its costs, renewal for next season is a real possibility."Community returning to NBC in March, Parks and Recreation taking a break"

Actually, it's not looking good: By shifting Parks and Recreation around to make room for Community, NBC is hinting that only one of these two low-rated, critically-lauded sitcoms will make it to next season, says James Poniewozik at TIME. After all, "there are only so many half-hours on a Thursday night." When Parks and Recreation does return to finish out its season in April, it will air behind The Office — a much better slot than its former 8:30 home. That should lead to inflated ratings, and a stronger chance of renewal, for Parks (which NBC actually owns, unlike Community). "Human Beings rejoice! Community returns to NBC March 15"

Forget Community. NBC revealed "double good news": NBC is burying the lede, says Josef Adalian at New York. Accompanying the news that Community is returning is the announcement that the network's Wednesday night lineup is being retooled, too. New comedies Bent, starring Amanda Peet as a neurotic divorcee, and Best Friends Forever, about old friends who move into a Brooklyn apartment, will begin airing on Wednesday nights in April — sparing viewers new episodes of the awful shows Whitney and Are You There, Chelsea? "Community returns!"

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