After a terrible, Road-like desperate winter, the past few weeks have been littered with relatively good news for fans of NBC’s “Community.” The low-rated but much-loved (especially ‘round these parts) genre-busting sitcom first went from being on hiatus with no return in sight, to having a hard return date announced for March 15 at its old 8pm stomping grounds. Then Jim Rash, Greendale Community College’s own chipper chippy of a dean, won on Oscar for Best Screenplay for his work on Alexander Payne’s The Descendants. Now, news comes out from PaleyFest (where “Community” has long been a hit panel) that the study group of Jeff, Britta, Abed, Troy, Pearce, Shirley, and Annie will actually return a week earlier than expected.
Starting March 7 (the day after Mass Effect 3 comes out for those who measure time in such a fashion), NBC.com and Hulu will release Internet-only, non-Hulu Plus required animated shorts starring the world’s finest of “Community” players. The shorts will be collectively titled “Abed’s Master Key” with the three individual episodes being made available in the lead up to the series’ proper return next Thursday. Danny Pudi described the cartoon tale thusly:
“[Q]uick, punchy little things for the Internet to sort of get ready for March 15 and also to tell people we haven’t been just sitting around. We’ve been eagerly waiting to get back on the air. ‘Abed’s Master Key’ is an exploration of the Dean and Abed’s relationship.”
Here’s a trailer for the upcoming webisodes, and while there is very, very little to go on here, just hearing the likes of Rash, Alison Brie, and Donald Glover give voice to their already-iconic characters after being forcibly separated from their dysfunctional, yet loving embrace is a bit of a thrill on its own:
Also coming out of PaleyFest is word that a season four of “Community” is entirely within the realm of possibility, even likely. It’s probably a bit too early to presume anything, but I think we may have reason to finally believe the darkest timeline might not be our own.
Rob Payne also writes the indie comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter @RobOfWar, and his ware can be purchased here (if you’re into that sort of thing). He still thinks it’s a shame “Parks and Rec” gets the shaft when “Community” returns, especially since everyone knows that it’s well past time to fire “The Office.”