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‘Community’ fans excited for tonight’s season premiere and return of Dan Harmon

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It may no longer be just cats that have nine lives as cult TV comedy “Community” will once again defy the odds and rise from the ashes tonight on NBC. If “Community” was a bad show it would be one thing, but the ensemble series is actually one of TV’s hidden gems and many critics believe tonight’s new episodes will win over fans who may have felt mistreated over the years.

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The highs and lows of “Community” probably has enough material to actually be its own series. Debuting in 2009, the comedy featured a strong roster of comic stars including Joel McHale, Chevy Chase and eventually Ken Jeong. Over the seasons it’s also served as a launching pad for co-stars Gillian Jacobs, Donald Glover, Yvette Nicole Brown, Danny Pudi, Jim Rash and Alison Brie.

“Community” was created by Dan Harmon, a talented showrunner and producer, but also one whose personality didn’t always click with network executives. In fact, prior to the start of season 4, Harmon was replaced on his own show which drew a huge outcry from its fiercely loyal fanbase. While not a lot of people may watch the comedy, those who do are very protective of it (and rightly so).

Harmon has a unique set of skills that make him very different from his fellow showrunners. New York Times TV Critic Mike Hale perhaps said it best in his column yesterday previewing the show’s return.

“Everything is back on track, though, in Thursday night’s second episode, a sterling example of Mr. Harmon’s ability to deploy fanboy obsessiveness in the service of funny and affectionate storytelling.”

While Harmon publicly feuded with Chase, who will exit the show this season, the rest of the cast has always stood by him and were somewhat instrumental in getting him to return. In an interview yesterday with AM New York, McHale elaborated more on what went into getting Harmon back to his post.

“There was a feeling that for us to get to six seasons and a movie, or 12 seasons and a theme park, we needed to have Dan back. I began asking those questions of Sony, and through months of talk and lunches it became a reality. That’s the very, very light version of it.”

Sadly season 5 will also reportedly see the exit of Donald Glover, who plays Troy Barnes. Along with Danny Pudi’s quirky but beloved Abed, the two have had one of television’s best bromances and fans are going to be disappointed to see that chapter come to a close. Still with Harmon once again in control, fans aren’t worried about the show’s direction.

The first episode of tonight’s double-header, fittingly titled “Repilot,” is just another example of why the show has earned the respect it has over the years. It’s funny, smart and different from other shows on TV….and if you need another reason, “Breaking Bad” scene-stealer (and fan favorite) Jonathan Banks is signed on to guest on for a number of this season’s episodes.

“Community” returns tonight at 8 p.m. EST on NBC.

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