Towards the end of 2011 it seemed as though we might never see Community again. Now it looks like the frothy-mouthed battle cry from fans of this most cerebrally rewarding of comedies – "Six seasons and a movie" – might be nearer the mark. Well, apart from the movie bit.
For Community's British fans it's the usual pyrrhic victory. More episodes – but still no one has a clue what you're talking about when you're enthusiastically sermonising about the cult college-set sitcom to the unconverted. "What? So it's like Saved by the Bell?" is a common response.
That's partly because the show was aired on Viva – and then unceremoniously dropped. Tonight season two begins on Sony Entertainment Television (Sky 157, Virgin 193) which hasn't exactly helped the Community cause by knocking out a half-arsed trailer which makes it all seem about as appealing as gout. Still, this blast of exposure could see the show's UK fanbase creep up to almost double figures. Although it remains unlikely that you'll be able to find anyone at a party you can discuss Dean Pelton's Google search history with.
It's a shame because Community bends to British tastes. Guest directors include Tristram Shapeero (Brass Eye, I'm Alan Partridge) and Richard Ayoade. And the show lovingly parodies Dr Who with a mock sci-fi series, Inspector Spacetime. It's this repeated burrowing into meta territory that sets Community apart. It mercilessly satirises pop culture, other sitcoms and itself. What at first appears to be a simple gag often lifts off into a rocket-propelled fourth wall-smashing flight of fancy which leaves you dazzled.
But in the UK, Community is hidden away like an embarrassing relative with a body odour problem. Unlike, say, Mad Men (Alison Brie stars in both) you'd be hard pushed to find many column inches about it. Strangely shunned by major broadcasters, most people discover it through peers.
The good news for aficionados is that the show's US ratings have mushroomed. Having hung Community out to dry – replacing it with 30 Rock – NBC last month brought back its wittiest show. It's currently airing the remaining tranche of episodes from the third season. So instead of the axe, a fourth season now looks likely, thanks to Community's committed fans. They rallied when the show looked threatened – a hardcore doing for free what PR agencies would charge you your own soul for, in much the same way the Save 6 Music campaign did the BBC's donkey work.
The bad news is that Chevy Chase might be heading for the door following a spectacular spat with Community's creator Dan Harmon. If Chase does walk, perhaps increasingly psychotic former Spanish teacher Señor Chang (Ken Jeong from The Hangover) might finally be granted his wish of joining Greendale's most eccentric study group?
Since the bust-up though, Harmon has extended an olive branch to Chase. If nothing else, the pair's falling out could provide a suitably self-aware storyline with which to begin season four of one of the most accomplished sitcoms of recent times.