'Community' returning to NBC in March, 'Parks and Recreation' taking a break
"Community" finally has a new home on NBC's schedule... and it's the old home. NBC just announced that the comedy will be returning on Thursday, March 15, at 8 p.m. — the exact timeslot it was exiled from earlier this season as part of NBC's mid-season shuffle.
That's the good news. The slightly bad news — but only very slightly — is that something's gotta give on NBC's Thursday schedule to make room for this, and for the moment, that something is "Parks and Recreation," which will take a 5-week break after its 18th episode of the season airs, returning on April 19 so that its final four episodes of the season can air after "The Office." ("Up All Night" will have finished its season by then.)
In NBC's original scheduling plans, "Parks and Rec" was going to air straight through and just be off the air a month or so before the other Thursday comedies. So we're not losing any episodes, and the show will get a better timeslot at the end of the season, and one that likely says good things about its chances of coming back for a fifth season.
(And in an ordinary season where "Parks and Rec" was intended to finish airing in May, March and April would be mostly filled with repeats, anyway.)
Also as part of the release, NBC said that the romantic comedy "Bent," with Amanda Peet and David Walton, will debut Wednesdays at 9 starting March 21, and will air back to back episodes for three straight weeks (essentially getting the show on and off the air ASAP). "Whitney" and "Are You There, Chelsea?" will wrap their seasons on March 28, and the following Wednesday, April 4, "Betty White's Off Their Rockers" and the new sitcom "Best Friends Forever" (starring Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham) will begin airing at 8 & 8:30, respectively. "Rock Center" will move to Wednesday at 10 for five weeks beginning March 7, while "Law & Order: SVU" will take a brief break before airing new episodes at 10 starting April 11.
But obviously, the pressing news here is that "Community" is coming back, and relatively soon, creating a revised sitcom bloc of "Community" at 8, "30 Rock" at 8:30, "The Office" at 9 and "Up All Night"/"Parks and Rec" at 9:30.
Back at press tour, NBC president Robert Greenblatt had suggested that whenever "Community" returned, it wasn't likely going to lead off a night of programming again. Of course, that was before "30 Rock" took over the 8 o'clock timeslot and proceeded to produce ratings often worse than "Community" had been doing in the fall. (Though "Community" only had to deal with "X Factor," whereas "30 Rock" is going up against the stronger "American Idol.") If nothing else, the "30 Rock" ratings have demonstrated that while "Community" isn't necessarily a mass appeal show, that's also not a timeslot where NBC can expect much of anything this season.
Does the new/old timeslot mean anything in terms of the odds of a "Community" season 4? I would tend to doubt it. The ratings aren't going to be good, and as I've been saying since the hiatus was announced, it's likely going to come down to whether Sony makes enough concessions on the deal that NBC considers it worth it to do another year.
All that we know right now is that "Community" is coming back. We can worry about six seasons and a movie later.