"Wait a minute-- something's changed," Donald Glover says just moments into the premiere of the (likely) final season of Community , NBC's rococo and weirdly earnest meta-analysis of the sitcom form. For Glover's character, the Greendale Community College student Troy Barnes, the thing that's changed involves the appearance of his old friend Pierce, the avuncular racist grudgingly played by un-avuncular diva Chevy Chase.
Fun in the ruins of Community
For Glover the actor, there's another change: In this episode's opening, this single-camera, often cinematic show steeped in a continuity as complex as X-Men comics briefly regresses to a traditional sitcom of canned laughs, set ups, and catch phrases.
And that is a joke about the biggest change, the one faced by Glover the Cult Phenomenon as well as the show's cast, writers, and intense internet fanbase: Community limps into its final thirteen episodes (premiering February 7) bereft of its creator and guiding spirit, Dan Harmon, a TV auteur canned by NBC for reasons likely having much to do with his piss-poor Chase-wrangling. From the outside, there seems something idiotic about the firing of the show's most essential creative force because of his feuding with the show's least. It's like if George Clinton got tossed out of Parliament because he had beef with that dude in the diaper.
But the show never caught on with viewers, much, despite much critical attention and one of TV's best (and best looking) ensemble casts, so it was reasonable to assume the network had other reasons, too-- especially as the scripts became more dense, more dark, and more likely impenetrable to a free-TV audience. Maybe they were bringing on new producers David Guarascio and Moses Port to make Community accessible.