Spending what just might be the last of its nine lives, the cult classic Community premieres on Yahoo Screen today, March 17. And the first two episodes of the show’s sixth season are available for your viewing pleasure — right now.
We’ve caught a touch of the first episode, and it definitely starts out with that same familiar feeling, relegated to an obscure corner to the streaming universe though it may be. Protagonist, teacher, and chronic narcissist-smartass Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) is given a shout-out for pretending to drive an electric vehicle over the morning announcements, while Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi) goes meta within seconds, as he lip-syncs his own work for the sake of, as he puts it, “catching everyone up.”
The first few minutes are filled with a convincing succession of the kind of sharp whit, ridiculous scenarios, and meta humor that fans of the series have come to know and love — not the least of which is a calamity of the kind only Greendale could entertain. So far so good. We’re hoping the show can stand up to its reputation in its new form, or at least meet our somewhat lowered expectations for the sixth act.
As we’ve previously reported, several core players didn’t make it back for Community’s latest resurrection. Missing from the party are Jonathan Banks, Donald Glover (aka Childish Bambino), and John Oliver, all of whom have moved on to other projects.
Stepping in for the missing characters are new comers Paget Brewster (Criminal Minds), and Keith David (Enlisted). Chevy Chase, who played the lovably dubious Pierce Hawthorne in previous iterations of the show was rumored to come back for a time, but at this stage, it is unlikely he’ll make an appearance without an official confirmation.
Most important, however, is the return of creator and showrunner Dan Harmon, who was fired before the bumpy fourth season of the show, only to return for season five. The fifth outing was well-received critically, but failed to garner high enough ratings for NBC to keep the ship afloat. That’s been the constant problem with the series since its inception, as it has consistently struggled to catch fire beyond a small, but fiercely loyal fan base. However, it has still done quite well online.
Now the show is setting out to do the improbable: Bring a healthy constituency of viewers to Yahoo, of all places. While Yahoo isn’t exactly known for its online programming, a cult-hit could be just the right recipe to secure the Web company some skin in the burgeoning game of “original” online content.
Whether or not Community can garner a decent audience on such a small stage is yet to be determined, but transitioning to strictly streaming mediums has worked for other series that were unappreciated in their time — we’re looking at you, Arrested Development.
Community‘s new chapter begins now, Tuesday March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day), with a new episode to follow each week.
Updated 3/17/15: Community premiered today, and we’ve given our thoughts on the first few minutes of season six, as well as linked to the show.