Terry Morrow: Despite woes backstage, 'Community' circles around for new season

Joel McHale plays Jeff on "Community," which returns for its fourth season.

Photo by Tyler Golden, © NBCUniversal, Inc.

Joel McHale plays Jeff on "Community," which returns for its fourth season.

SAN DIEGO — 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 off, the series has new showrunners, David Guarascio and Moses Port, taking over the role from creator Dan Harmon, who ran things from the first episode.

The end of the third season also marks several other departures including more executive producers, writers and frequent 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 the 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, co-star Chevy Chase left the show by mutual agreement, but viewers will hardly notice since he'll be in 11 of 13 episodes.

A cult favorite, "Community's" small but loyal following hasn't gone ignored by NBC. In fact, it's given credit for carrying the show this far.

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

"It's just one of those things were 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. All times Eastern. Check local listings:

SUNDAY

— "Super Bowl XLVII" (6:25 p.m. CBS).The San Francisco 49ers face the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans. Beyoncé is the halftime entertainment.

— "Live From New York: The First Five Years of Saturday Night Live" (9 p.m. NBC). A retrospective of the sketch show's early years include memorial sketches from the 1970s.

— "Puppy Bowl" (9 p.m. Animal Planet). Puppies up for adoption roam a miniature field. Also included: 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 iconic 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 beginning with this installment.

SATURDAY

— "Grammy Special" (9 p.m. CBS). Not missing any opportunity to draw on the popularity of the music ceremony, this special gives a behind-the-scenes look at how the televised portion is put together.

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