Originally set to kick off its fourth season on October 19th, "Community" was pushed back from its scheduled season premiere to a date to be determined earlier this month, with NBC citing a desire to focus on marketing its successful new shows like "Go On" and "Revolution," and to not strand returning series with no support from the network in terms of outreach.
While Whitney Cummings' "Whitney," also delayed from its scheduled premiere, has now been slotted in to take the place of the canceled "Animal Practice" on Wednesday nights starting November 14, "Community" isn't going to be back so soon. In a press release today, NBC announced that "Community" will get its season premiere on February 7th, two days after the return of "Smash" on February 5th.
On the plus side, this means that "Community" is being moved back to Thursday nights, when the original plan was to shift the show to quieter Friday where, always ratings challenged, it might have struggled even more. The series will be taking the 8pm slot being vacated by "30 Rock," which is currently in the middle of its 13-episode final season — the two series have a similar enough odd sense of humor that the replacement makes sense.
On the down side, this is a very long time to wait for a series that's already in a major transition phase, one that's going to be intensely scrutinized by a devoted fan base, with creator and showrunner Dan Harmon out and David Guarascio and Moses Port taking over. And here's hoping any already produced episodes don't lean to heavily on seasonal tie-ins, since the holidays are going to long be over by the time the show's back on air for its new 13-episode arc.
In addition to the "Community" and "Smash" start dates, NBC also announced the scheduled premieres of three mid-season replacements. "Deception" (titled changed from what was initially "Infamous"), created by "Friday Night Lights" writer Liz Heldens and starring Meagan Good as a detective investigating the murder of her former best friend, a famous socialite, starts on January 7th. "1600 Penn," a White House comedy from Josh Gad and Jon Lovett featuring Bill Pullman as the president and Jenna Elfman, Josh Gad as his family, premieres on January 10th. And Eva Longoria's matchmaking competition series "Ready for Love" begins March 31.