Providing several extra weeks of emotional adjustment that surely won't be marred by impatience or anxiety, NBC has announced an October 19 start for the new, Dan Harmon-free version of Community, making it the last new or returning NBC series to debut this fall. Why, by that time, who knows which among the freshmen NBC series will already be marked for swift, Free Agents-like cancellation? Probably not the new Matthew Perry sitcom Go On, which—along with the Justin Kirk-starring Animal Practice—is already getting a big, optimistic push by receiving special sneak previews in the plum, post-Olympics spots of Aug. 8 and Aug. 12, respectively.
But with Go On making its official debut on September 11 ("Could that date BE any more uncomfortable for a show about grieving?" Matthew Perry asked aloud, after we gave him a dollar), and then Animal Practice bowing on September 26—alongside the Jimmy Fallon-produced, indifferently titled Guys With Kids—you will definitely have had several weeks of asking why this stuff is on but Community isn't before your indignant pleas are answered. At least Oct. 19 suggests Community could return in time for another Halloween episode—perhaps even an appropriately meta one where the Greendale gang finds itself suddenly replaced by less-weird pod people imposters. (Just a suggestion.)
Anyway, as we are nothing but not aware of our audience, here is where we skip ahead and tell you that the rest of Community's former Thursday night colleagues will return on Sept. 20, with Up All Night leading off at 8:30 p.m ET, followed by The Office and Parks And Recreation. Right now the question of what goes in Community's vacant time slot remains a mystery—30 Rock doesn't return for its final season until October 4—but the smart money is on some Saturday Night Live election specials, a half hour of a black void soundtracked by hollow, mocking laughter, or a compilation of embarrassing moments captured on the network's secret "Dan Harmon Cam," to really stick it in.
Back to reporting chronologically, NBC keeps this staggered rollout strategy going through the autumn months, beginning with an early, August 13 start for the next season of Grimm (which returns to its regular Friday timeslot on Sept. 14) alongside the new military-themed reality show Stars Earn Stripes. The network will then more or less coast on football until it's time for The Voice to come back and save them on Sept. 10, followed the next night by the debuts of Go On and Ryan Murphy's The New Normal and the return of Parenthood.
On Sept, 12, Guys With Kids gets its own sneak preview after the penultimate America's Got Talent, then things really begin to pick up steam with the Sept. 17 debut of J.J. Abrams' Revolution, followed by the regular Sept. 26 debuts of Animal Practice and Guys With Kids before the two-hour premiere of Law And Order: SVU. The fall season then settles into some semblance of stasis with the Oct. 10 premiere of Dick Wolf's Chicago Fire and, of course, the Oct. 19 return of Community "after an all-new Whitney!" which is a phrase you should get used to hearing.