Re-enroll in 'Community' tonight on NBC

Thursday, 15 March 2012 11:30 AM Written by 

Community_3-12NBC's "Community" returns tonight at 8 after a few months on the sidelines as fans rallied to support the low-rated comedy, which, ratings-wise, did no worse in the fall than most recent time slot occupant "30 Rock," which moves to 8:30 tonight.

"I did not like being put in the position where I was rooting for a fellow creative's bad fortune," said "Community" executive producer Dan Harmon in a teleconference with reporters last week. "I think that there's probably room for everybody to get entertained and to entertain but at the same time, yes, obviously, numerically,  scientifically I was relieved to see that my suspicion that that environment temporally was a little bit hazardous to anybody who might step foot in it."

Recent lousy ratings for NBC at 8 p.m. on Thursday can be chalked up to Fox's "American Idol" and, to a lesser extent, CBS's "The Big Bang Theory."

"It's a monster that show. People singing and people voting for the singing and there's no stopping it," Harmon said. "Because you can always watch '30 Rock' later. You could watch ['American Idol'] in your car on the way to a wedding but if you get to the wedding and you didn't watch 'American Idol' you might as well not of watched it, you might as well never watch it" because someone will talk about the outcome.

Read more after the jump. ...

Tonight's return episode of "Community" won't go down in the show's history as one of the best but it's funny enough as Shirley is torn between starting a business with Pierce (Chevy Chase) and re-marrying her ex-husband, Andre (Malcolm-Jamal Warner).

"Baby girl," Andre says. "I've loved you ever since there was a Soviet Union and only one Damon Wayans!"

That's just one example of the "Community" humor that demands pop culture knowledge. That joke is only funny if you are aware there's a Damon Wayans Jr. who stars in ABC's "Happy Endings." Pop culture knowledge is by no means assured. Earlier this week I met someone who had never heard of "Mad Men." Seriously.

Harmon rejects the notion that part of the reason more viewers have not embraced "Community" is that the jokes are too inside.

"The way that we get away with that stuff is having handed off some very basic archetypes to some incredibly talented versatile actors who are so consistent in their dimensionalizing of these characters," he said. "You can just take them and put them in space suites, you can put them in a musical, you can make them pirates and it still stands. That makes me very proud. Makes me feel like I've been a part of something, a successful rocket launch."

Vote to retain or dismiss "Community" in the Post-Gazette's annual Keep or Cancel? poll through April 22.

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