This morning brought two shocking bits of television news from NBC — first, the renewal of Bryan Fuller’s well-liked but little-watched “Hannibal” for a third season, followed by the cancelation of the also popular and slightly-more-watched comedy “Community.”
However, those crying about being denied “six seasons and a movie” should maybe preserve their tears for a little while. A decade ago, “Community” fans would have no options beyond re-enacting the final scenes of “Do the Right Thing” outside NBC’s corporate offices. But the rise of digital distribution means that creator Dan Harmon and Sony Entertainment may have other options.
Within minutes of the announcement, speculation became rampant that as Netflix did with “Arrested Development,” one of the many streaming services now also releasing original content might be interested in bringing the series back to life. It’s still very early, but it’s not hard to see Amazon or Hulu being interested in bringing in the show’s loyal, web-savvy fanbase.
Does this mean it should happen? Before the fifth season premiered, this would be a harder question to answer, as the show was on shaky creative ground thanks to the fourth season’s lack of Harmon and departing cast members Chevy Chase and Donald Glover.
But “Community,” never afraid of genre experiments and general weirdness, re-found its footing over the subsequent 13 episodes, incorporating “Zardoz” references and an episode-long homage to the animated “G.I. Joe” into its chaotic world. Even an episode called “Basic Story” failed to be boring; the creativity was slow to build at first, but eventually exploded.
Would that pattern have continued in Season 6? NBC won’t get to find out. But we still might.