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Morrow-TV: After shakeup and changes, ‘Community’ returns

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From page A7 | February 02, 2013 | Leave Comment

Joel McHale

Joel McHale arrives at Elle Women in Television celebration on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, in West Hollywood, Calif. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

For a cutup like Joel McHale to label the upcoming fourth season of “Community” as “weird” is a bit of an understatement.

“I don’t know how it’s all going to work,” says McHale, the 41-year-old actor/comedian, of all the changes happening behind the scenes.

Where to begin? Well, first, the series has new showrunners, David Guarascio and Moses Port, taking over the role from creator Dan Harmon.

The end of the third season also marked other departures, including executive producers, writers and episode directors.

Afterward, NBC delayed the premiere of the fourth season, without announcing a return date.

When a date was announced, it was on Friday nights — not exactly a high-viewership evening, and perhaps the death knell for a series that’s already in syndication.

The cast took the news in stride, chins up and looking to tackle the night. Later, NBC said “Community” would reappear on Thursday nights.

Just as all seemed to calm down, however, co-star Chevy Chase left the show by mutual agreement, but viewers will hardly notice since he’ll be in 11 of 13 episodes.

“Community’s” small but loyal following hasn’t gone unnoticed by NBC. In fact, it’s given credit for carrying the show this far.

With “Community” back (8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7), the bleeding seems to have stopped.

“It’s just one of those things where you just sort of proceed,” McHale says. “… I just have to trust where it’s going to go.

“Our DVR numbers have always been very strong. I am hoping all the attention from (the backstage drama) might push them even higher.

“We’ll handle it. We always do. The competition on television is really nuts. But we’ll handle it.”

Other highlights for the week of Feb. 3-9 (times subject to change; check local listings):

SUNDAY

– “Super Bowl XLVII” (3:30 p.m., CBS). The San Francisco 49ers face the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans. Beyonce provides halftime entertainment.

– “Puppy Bowl” (3 p.m., Animal Planet). Puppies up for adoption roam a miniature field. Also: Hamsters hovering above the action.

TUESDAY

– “Betty White’s Second Annual 90th Birthday Special” (8 p.m., NBC). Tributes from Blake Shelton, Whoopi Goldberg and Sean Hayes are directed to the TV star on her 91st birthday.

– “Smash” (9 p.m., NBC). Season two opens with Broadway-bound “Bombshell” hitting last-minute financial snags.

WEDNESDAY

– “American Idol” (8 p.m., Fox). The competition progresses to the Hollywood rounds.

SATURDAY

– “The Grammys Will Go On: A Death in the Family” (9 p.m., CBS). Described as a behind-the-scenes glance at how Whitney Houston’s death affected last year’s Grammy Awards show.

Email Terry Morrow of The Knoxville News Sentinel in Tennessee at morrowt@knoxville.com.

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