Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
It wasn’t until the end of tonight’s Community panel at PaleyFest 2013 that the one genuine piece of news emerged, as a clip of the cast as Muppet-like puppets was shown to those at the Saban Theatre. An all-puppet episode featuring extensive use of the performers in puppet form will air in April and include a cameo from Jason Alexander (though not as a puppet). As the panel closed, the cast mates brought out their puppet lookalikes to revel in the moment. The puppet gambit is in keeping with a quirky series that’s already used stop-motion animation and other creative devices to distinguish itself. Earlier, new show runners David Guarascio and Moses Port focused on this Thursday’s episode that finds the introduction of James Brolin in a recurring role as the long-estranged father of star Joel McHale’s character, Jeff Winger. The installment also features Fred Willard in a cameo, and he was also present during a table read that opened the panel.
Castmember Joel McHale introduces holiday cheer from NBC’s Community, which returns February 7th:
EXCLUSIVE: Pierce Hawthorne is dropping out of Greendale Community College. After a tumultuous three-and-a-half-year relationship, Chevy Chase and the producers of NBC‘s cult comedy Community are parting ways by mutual agreement. Chase’s departure from the show is effective immediately. The bulk of Community‘s 13-episode fourth-season order have been filmed. Chase won’t appear in the one or two episodes that have not been shot yet.
UPDATE: NBC Unveils Midseason Schedule — ‘Community’ Back On Thursday; ‘Smash’ To Tuesday; ’1600 Penn’, ‘Deception’ Slotted
UPDATED: NBC just released the bulk of its midseason schedule, its first lineup shepherded by new head of scheduling Jeff Bader. It features The Biggest Loser moving to Mondays (8-10 PM) to serve as a bridge between the two cycles of The Voice. Its companion will be midseason drama Deception (formerly Infamous), which will air at 10 PM.
NBC is gambling with a long hiatus for breakout hit Revolution, which will wrap its 10-episode fall run with a big cliffhanger in November before coming back with 12 originals on March 25, following the cycle premiere of The Voice as the two shows will once again be paired together.
With Revolution staying put, Smash, which aired behind The Voice last spring, is moving to Tuesdays, premiering February 5 from 9-11 PM before settling into its regular 10 PM slot the following week. It will be a test for the musical drama, which will have a more modest lead–comedies Go On and The New Normal — the voice The Voice last season. Smash will replace Parenthood, which will have completed its 15-episode season by then. Another new Tuesday addition in midseason is Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, which will return on January 8 with back-to-back episodes from 8-9 PM and will continue in that hour. It will bridge the two cycles of The Voice, which returns March 26.
Order is restored on Thursday as cult comedy Community returns to its 8 PM slot. The much-delayed fourth season of Community will premiere February 7. It is one of two midseason comedy additions to NBC’s Thursday lineup, along with newbie 1600 Penn, which is getting the post-Office 9:30 slot beginning January 10. The following week, Parks And Recreation, which currently airs at 9:30 PM, will move back to its old 8:30 PM berth.