Everyone and their mother are reporting that Chevy Chase is parting ways with the cult NBC sitcom Community, but not many seem to be asking, “Why now?” The series is scheduled to return Feb. 7 for what will likely be its final 13 episodes, most of which have already been shot. So while the headline “Chevy Chase leaves Community” is technically correct, reports indicate that he’ll miss only one or two episodes of the 13. On top of that, Hitfix’s Alan Sepinwall has learned the episodes were shot out of order and that the season (and likely series) finale is already in the can, meaning Chase will be featured as he normally would in that episode.
So the timing is downright bizarre. Chase leaving with a maximum of two episodes left to film is the equivalent of a boxer’s cornerman throwing in the towel with three seconds left in the fight. It’s true Chase has made no secret of his unhappiness in being on the show, and some theorize that the public altercations between he and series creator Dan Harmon could have played a part in the network’s ousting of Harmon prior to this season. But, regardless, he’s stuck with the show for this long. (And, even now, his departure is being described as amicable.)
If Community somehow shocks the world by earning a fifth-season renewal, the loss of Chase would serve as legitimate news. Right now, though, it’s more akin to a bizarre TV mystery. What pissed off Chevy Chase so much this time that he couldn’t stand the thought of filming two more episodes?
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