NBC defends 'Community' changes, claims fans will still 'get the same show'

Community

Image Credit: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

The upcoming fourth season of Community may have a short order (13 episodes), may be on Fridays (with a Whitney lead in) and may have seen the exit of creator Dan Harmon. But that doesn’t mean it’s the final season, NBC brass says.

“We’re in a transition with our comedy programming and trying to broaden the audience and broaden what network does,” NBC entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt told critics at the Television Critics Association’s press tour in Beverly Hills on Tuesday. “Those Thursday comedies, which the critics love and we love, tend to be a bit more narrow than we’d ultimately like as we go forward.”

Community has been a show that’s always on the bubble [to return] and we decided to bring it back again and see what a fourth season would do for us,” Greenblatt continued. “The reason we did 13 episodes [of Community and other shows] is we wanted to get more comedies on the schedule … which isn’t to say we couldn’t decide at some point to extend those seasons longer.”

As for Harmon’s exit, Greenblatt said:

“I think fans of Community are going to get the same show they have loved from the beginning,” he said. “Every so often it’s time to make a change with a showrunner … you evaluate the creative … sometimes you want to freshen a show and we decided to do that with Community – no disrespect to anyone.”

Asked if he would categorically rule out a fifth season, Greenblatt said: “I would love nothing more than Community to have a following on Friday and be able to continue [beyond season 4].”

NBC is premiering several new comedies this fall, including broad and wacky titles like Animal Practice and Guys With Kids, as well as potentially more risky shows like the Matthew Perry therapy sitcom Go On and Ryan Murphy’s unconventional family comedy The New Normal.

“We’re in this awkward stage,” said NBC’s entertainment president Jennifer Salke. “Some of our new comedies might seem more commercial to you … it’s kind of an evolving comedy brand.”

“Shows like Whitney and Up All Night were steps in the right direction and that’s why they’re back,” Greenblatt said. “It [can] take more than a couple seasons for a show to creatively find itself.”

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