After 11 years of bringing you local reporting, the team behind the Vancouver Observer has moved on to Canada's National Observer. You can follow Vancouver culture reporting over there from now on. Thank you for all your support over the years!

Community hopes to maintain strong numbers after an abrupt hiatus

Community cast members Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, and Gillian Jacobs, pictured here at their San Diego Comic Con panel. 

Community continues its return from hiatus tonight and all eyes will be on the ratings to see if this quirky little show can sustain its numbers from last week. In case you are unfamiliar with the show, it is a baffling masterpiece of network comedy set in a fictional community college named Greendale. It follows a study group populated by misfits who have come to Greendale for different reasons at different stages of life and each with his or her own brand of dysfunction. When NBC pulled the show from its Thursday night comedy block in order to make room for the return of 30 Rock, Community fans went apoplectic and nearly set the internet on fire. A few flash mobs and a flurry of tweets and re-tweets later, the show returned to the air with numbers which, for NBC, were huge.

Full disclosure: Community is easily one of my favorite shows. I love comedy, hate laugh tracks, and marvel at post-postmodern genre-pushing meta-humour. It’s as if series creator Dan Harmon had a picture of me on the wall when he dreamt this thing up. That said, the third season has been a bit uneven by the show’s standards, at times getting a bit sitcom-ish. However, this season has also struck some incredible highs, such as ‘Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilatism’ and the incredibly risky and brilliant ‘Remedial Chaos Theory’. (Why this episode failed to get nominated for a major award baffles me.)

Last week’s episode was not as great, but not by any means poor. It really felt like they had some business to clear up before moving forward. Shirley [Spoiler Alert] needed to get married and Pierce needed to drop the Hawthorne Wipes schtick before it got old. This is why tonight’s episode is so important. The show had all sorts of hype for its return, but it remains to be seen if that level of excitement can be sustained over the rest of the season. Here are the burning questions to ask as we follow our beloved Human Beings through to the end of semester:

1 – Will the fans continue to watch live, keeping the ratings up and assuring its renewal for next season?
2 – Will the show return to its genre-pushing ways or is it petering out creatively?
3 – Will new viewers, attracted by all the publicity, continue to watch after last week’s decent-but-not-great return?
4 – If Community continues to thrive, thanks largely to the power of social media, what does this mean for other low-rated critical darlings with devoted fans, such as Raising Hope?

Starting today, and for the rest of the season, I will be posting a recipe a week, every week, devoted to an iconic moment or line from the show, up until the day this show gets renewed for a fourth season. It’s a kind of culinary vigil for the love of Greendale and my favorite study group which does everything but study. The first installment pays homage to Abed’s nocturnal vigilatism. Just climb down a rope in your Batman suit and follow the link below.

More in Television

Screenshot from Silence of the Labs

CBC documentary Silence of the Labs screening

"This is an important film that provides a balanced look at the unprecedented shift in federal funding for public science in Canada," says Aqsa Malik.

Native Planet challenges audiences to redefine humanity’s relationship with the environment

Native Planet, a new six-part documentary series takes audiences to the front lines of an Aboriginal-led fight for Mother Earth. Last week, the series kicked off with the story of a Maori tribe’s...

The Best Super Bowl commercials of 2014 (and a few you won't see during the big game)

Roundup of the best commercials from the 2014 Super Bowl.
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.