"Community," the best sitcom no one watches, makes its return next Thursday from the TV limbo known as "hiatus."
The show, which revolves around seven very different students at Greendale Community College, last aired in December. NBC last night delivered a trailer hailing the event, one that asks the provocative question, "What if we purged all the weirdness from our systems?"
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Star Joel McHale was the first to show the trailer at his other job, "The Soup," and the clip is brimming with the kind of lunacy, costumes and pop-culture riffing that help make "Community" one of the funniest, most original shows on TV.
But for all the creative genius that goes into the show, it has never found an audience, regularly getting pummeled in the ratings race. There are a few reasons for this, starting with the competition, which includes monster hit "American Idol."
Then there's the fact that the show had trouble finding its voice during the first season. Many people watched an early episode, didn't like what they saw and never returned (though some us did).
One of the show's greatest weakness is ironically a residual of its core strength: you can't watch this show casually. It demands you pay attention for a full 22 minutes, as almost every moment feds into the next, or one that's 10 minutes off on the horizon. You can't surf the internet or pay bills while watching "Community."
"Idol" fans can walk out of the room for a few minutes and not miss a beat, "Big Bang Theory" fans can run to the fridge and pick the story right back up. This isn't a criticism of either show, merely an observation about their structure.
And finally there's the question of what exactly is "Community"? One week it's "Pulp Fiction" meets "My Dinner With Andre," then it's "Goodfellas" or a Western or a post-apocalyptic nightmare... Whatever "Community" is, it's back next Thursday (8 p.m. EST), and we should enjoy it while it lasts.