It’s Community day at the Television Critics’ Association press tour in Southern California, which means more concrete information about the sitcom’s highly anticipated sixth season than ever before — including its release date. (Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall has a comprehensive live blog.) Here’s what Greendale enthusiasts have to go on for the next slightly-more-than-two months, including cast changes and Yahoo’s surprising rollout strategy.
The season premieres March 17th on Yahoo.
Self-explanatory. Check out the brand-spanking-new cast photo!
… But it won’t follow the typical binge-watching model.
Here’s the catch: instead of dumping all the episodes online at once, à la Netflix, Amazon, and even Vimeo, Yahoo will release just two episodes on March 17th. After that, fans can watch a single episode every Tuesday (or whenever they want after that) until the season’s over. Says Dan Harmon: “I’m old school, so it feels to me to be the right way to do them.” That also means traditional three-act structures, despite the lack of commercial breaks.
Moving to the Internet still means changes.
Despite the conventional-TV release model, the switch to Yahoo means no ratings pressure — which means less network pressure about the content of the show, period. The “corset has loosened” relative to NBC, Harmon joked, and the humor’s got “a tiny bit more Britishness.” Also, episode lengths might be “a little chubby,” just like the Arrested Development revival. (Harmon still hasn’t decided.)
Yet another longtime ensemble member won’t be around.
Chevy Chase’s Pierce Hawthorne and Donald Glover’s Troy Barnes are both down for the count, though Glover’s exit was more open-ended and Harmon has openly expressed a desire to work with him again. For Season 6, working mom Shirley Bennett will be conspicuously absent; even though Yahoo picked up the show just before the cast’s contracts expired, actress Yvette Nicole Brown asked to be released from hers in order to care for her ailing father. Harmon says the character will be written out in a way that’s satisfying, not abrupt.
And neither will some beloved guest stars.
John Oliver’s busy with Last Week Tonight and Jonathan Banks started filming Better Call Saul, so neither professorial fuckup Ian Duncan nor cop-turned-academic Buzz Hickey will be making appearances.
There will be new faces on the cast, though.
We already knew Paget Brewster (whose credits include shows as diverse as Criminal Minds and Adult Swim’s Harvey Birdman) and Keith David (of Enlisted) had signed on. Thanks to the TCA panel, though, their characters are now a little more fleshed out: Brewster plays a “problem solver” brought in by the administration to fix Greendale — good luck with that one — and David is a computer programmer who invested a lot of time in failed virtual reality technology back in the ’90s.