COMMUNITY: The darkest timeline? Maybe, maybe not.

I’m sure many of you are reacting to the news that Dan Harmon is out at Community (and, understandably, he seems pretty bitter about the whole thing). Now my first response to this news was, “Nooooo!” How will the show go on? Will we ever see anything as balls to the wall brilliant as “Modern Warfare,” “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas,” or “Pillows and Blankets” again? The new show runners worked on Just Shoot Me?! Hand me a gun!

Those were just a few of my inital thoughts. But then I took a deep breath and thought about where Harmon left his characters on Thursday night. Jeff accepts and even embraces his role at Greendale and within the study group. Shirley and Pierce are going into business together (and Pierce seems a little more human). Britta does something right and helps Abed. Abed in turn is able to let go of the Dreamatorium (although he still maintains a smaller version in a corner of his apartment should be need to escape from time to time). Annie’s come miles from the uptight perfectionist she was at the start of the series. And Troy takes a step towards adulthood and his destiny as an air conditioner repairman (but, thankfully, he still gets to hang out with his friends). In other words, everyone is growing up.

Now we have to wait and see what this next batch of Community episodes will look and feel and sound like (I’m totally prepared for them to be truly awful). Yet, I’m also hopeful that we might witness the next stage in the evolution of these characters. Maybe it means less paintball and note-perfect Law & Order parodies. But I fell in love with this show after Season One’s “Environmental Science,” which was a fairly traditional sitcom episode. Perhaps the adventures won’t have the same audacity, but if the characters continue to relate to and care about one another the way they always have, I’ll still tune in. If not, I’ll don my goatee and hunt NBC execs in the prime timeline.

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