After a prolonged and tumultuous absence, “Community” returns to your television tonight at 8/7c on NBC. You probably have a lot of questions for the study group since they last convened at their table for an epic 90-minute Season 3 finale, most important among them being: Just where, exactly, is Annie’s Boobs right now? Also, is Chang (Ken Jeong) really suffering from the mysterious, memory-obliterating ailment “Changnesia,” or is he secretly plotting to establish a Second Chang Dynasty in Greendale’s air conditioning vents?
Just because jilted showrunner Dan Harmon won’t be tuning in for the Season 4 premiere of the show he gave birth to doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hope for six seasons and a movie. There are plenty of timelines, after all, to follow up on, the darkest of which might end up being how the show writes off Chevy Chase, who left the show mid-steam in grand, bridge-burning fashion after some very public spats with his co-stars. Will inveterate racist Pierce Hawthorne meet a grisly end? Will his demise include some sort of Clark Griswold homage, or will he die in a tragic sandwich fire that his new business partner Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) accidentally/on purpose ignites?
And then there’s the question of super-slick former attorney Jeff Winger (Joel McHale). He’s on the cusp of graduating and returning to his old life as a luxury condo-dwelling lawyer, but will the group’s leader really be able to tear himself away from Greendale’s asbestos-riddled hallways? If he does, who will Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) inappropriately ogle? There’s also a budding romance between Britta (Gillian Jacobs) and Troy (Donald Glover) to be explored, as well as Abed’s (Danny Pudi) continuing reliance on his now-miniaturized Dreamatorium and Annie’s (Alison Brie) continuing descent into slackerhood.
If you’ve followed the study group this far, you’re pretty much obligated to tune in tonight and find out, once and for all, if we really are in the darkest timeline. Besides, Dean Pelton is planning some truly reckless school-wide events, starting with…
1. The Hunger Deans!
The much-ballyhooed “Hunger Deans” episode will give Dean Pelton the opportunity to wear more outfits than the entire Broadway cast of Hello, Dolly! Plus, Jeff will no doubt have his chance to bash Dr. Rich in his smug face with a foam jousting paddle. This episode will be epic, maybe too epic. Does Pierce Hawthorne get killed off early?
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2. A Very Belated Christmas
The greatest Christmas movie of all time is obviously “Die Hard,” and “Community” has made some of the best TV Christmas specials ever. So, it seems entirely awesome for “Community” to make a “Die Hard” homage, one that hopefully recasts Troy’s capuchin Annie’s Boobs in the role of off-duty cop John McClane, who avoids being taken hostage and must team up with Chang to save Greendale from German mercenaries.
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3. Dean Pelton’s Sartorial Choices
Dean Pelton is the wardrobe that keeps on changing, but does he have anymore tricks up his strapless ball gowns? Let’s hope so, because the dean has already allocated a lot of Greendale’s money to ensuring that he can make bold sartorial choices.
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4. Señor Chang, with a Vengeance
Chang is back, but he’s suffering from memory loss and calling himself Kevin. What will happen when he suddenly realizes that he is not a mild-mannered Asian American student at Greendale Community College, but a sociopathic former Spanish teacher out to rule the school with an army of pre-pubescent campus police officers? Probably something too terrible for words.
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5. Celebrate October 19th
Odds are October 19th passed you by without you even realizing. You might not have been able to celebrate it then, but you can certainly celebrate it now, on February 7th, because October 19th is really just a state of mind, a time when we all gather in front of our TVs and ensure that the best American sitcom returns for a fifth season. Then a sixth season. Then a movie.
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“Community” returns for a fourth season on Thursday, Feb. 7 at 8/7c on NBC.