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'Community' adds web-only animated episodes

March 5, 2012 |  5:07 pm

Community

After an extended absence from TV screens, "Community," NBC's beloved but chronically low-rated comedy series, returns March 15 to finish its third season. To drum up the biggest possible audience, NBC is releasing three animated webisodes of "Community" featuring the voices of the show's cast.

The episodes, titled "Abed's Master Key" Parts 1, 2 and 3, will debut online Wednesday, a week before the return of the (mostly) live action series to NBC.

The episodes will run about two minutes apiece and will follow the students of Greendale Community College as they struggle with the responsiblity of great power when Abed is given Greendale's Master Key and abuses that power to help his friends.

"The 'Community' actors and team were eager to lend their voices and support to an effort intended to engage their loyal fan base that has rabidly kept the show thriving via flash mobs, fan art, viral videos, dedicated fan sites and on Facebook and Twitter," said Sony Pictures Television exec Chris Van Amburg.

It's no wonder the cast is so eager. After the series' Christmas episode aired on Dec. 8, the show went on an extended hiatus with no clear idea of when it would be back on the NBC schedule. Most of the time, it's a sign that a show's cancellation is close at hand.

But the series' loyal fanbase can only hope that these animated webisodes are part of a renewed effort on the part of NBC to drum up interest in "Community." It's not the first time the show has gone animated, its first Christmas episode, "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" aired entirely in stop motion animation. A portion of another episode was done in the style of Japanese anime.

The webisodes will be available on Hulu and on NBC.com.

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—Patrick Kevin Day

Photo: "Community" animated webisode title card. Credit: NBC.

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