"Community" is no more: the wildly unconventional comedy, known for paintball fights, animated episodes and tributes to the celebrated and obscure, has been canceled after five years of critical praise but poor ratings.
NBC stuck with "Community" for as long as it did in part because of its acclaim and dedicated online following. It was tailor-made for internet obsessing, with niche-y jokes and memes that included most famously, "Annie's Boobs." (The joke involved both a monkey and the sensible bookworm played by Allison Brie.)
Even star Joel McHale's response to the bad news was an inside joke. "#Darkesttimeline," he tweeted, a reference to an episode in which life split into six different realities, depending on which of the characters got up to answer a door.
It was all too complicated for most viewers. One episode, which began as a "Pulp Fiction" spoof, turned out to be an homage to the much lesser known "My Dinner With Andre." The show won an Emmy - its only one - for an animated Christmas episode that paid tribute to the stop-motion holiday specials of the 1960s. It suffered internal drama that included Chevy Chase leaving after a very public feud with co-creator Dan Harmon; Donald Glover leaving to focus on his other projects; and Harmon leaving at the behest of NBC because of the show's ratings. In the biggest twist, he returned after one season away.
But the show brimmed with talent - maybe more than could fit in one show. Jim Rash, who played the dean, had a modest side job as an Oscar-winning screenwriter. Ken Jeong, who played Mr. Chang, also appeared in the "Hangover" blockbusters. McHale also hosted "The Soup" on E!. And Brie, who also appeared on "Mad Men," was already working on the TV Land pilot "Teachers" before Friday's news.
They and the rest of the cast, including Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi and Yvette Nicole Brown, will be in high demand.
One of the show's longest-serving hashtags was #sixseasonsandamovie, which reflected Harmon and his cast's hope that the series would last six years, then assemble an onscreen reunion.
"Community" got five years. There's no word on a movie, but the online "Community" community might want to train their paintball guns on Kickstarter.
© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.