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This Week's Cover: 'Downton Abbey' keeps our Winter TV Preview classy

It’s the biggest PBS phenomenon since Sesame Street, and might very well be the classiest thing you do every Sunday night. Yes, Downton Abbey is returning on Jan. 5, and Entertainment Weekly was on the set for season four of the British TV phenomenon. Creator Julian Fellowes’ wildly popular period drama about life on a decadent English countryside estate shocked viewers last season with two major character deaths (we’ll never forget you, Matthew and Sybil!), and the show’s anticipated fourth season promises to be nothing short of shocking, exciting, and traumatic — which is just what we’ve come to expect of the Grantham and Crawley clan. Even guest star Shirley MacLaine was floored by the show’s drama: “When Matthew died I nearly threw a chair at the television. I thought, what is Julian Fellowes doing? It took me a few days to get over it.” READ FULL STORY

Remembrance of felt past: Ranking the puppet episodes that paved the way for 'Glee'

On Thanksgiving Day, Glee will join an elite squad of network  TV series: the few, the proud, the ones with puppet episodes. Not episodes that revolve around inevitably creepy marionettes — like Buffy‘s “The Puppet Show” or Criminal Minds“The Lesson” — but ones that instead feature cute, colorful felt facsimiles of one or more main characters. (It’s important to note that these facsimiles are generally not Muppets. To quote an earlier episode of one Puppet Brotherhood member: “Shh! You wanna get sued?”)

Though puppet episodes are a nascent genre, they still generally conform to a certain set of rules. They’ve got the feel of children’s television as made for a decidedly older audience. They include plenty of meta jokes about the characters’ sudden felt status. At some point, someone’s going to act like Kermit when he gets excited. And finally, there’s got to be at least one song — preferably an original, designed to sound like a grown-up Sesame Street outtake.

Glee, most likely, will hit these same notes in “Puppet Master,” its own imaginatively named puppet episode. But how will the show compare to the faux-Muppet stories that have come before? Let’s speculate — after first remembering the four most notable puppet episodes of seasons past.
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Donald Glover explains those Instagrams: 'I definitely was just expressing myself'

Don’t worry, guys — Donald Glover’s going to make it after all.

Days after posting a series of angsty, ultra-personal notes on his Instagram page (Example: “I’m afraid people hate who I really am.”), the Community star has opened up to People about what possessed him to bare his soul online. “That night, we had a show, and then afterwards, I had this moment of feeling like, ‘What’s the point? Why am I even here?'” Glover explained. “I just wanted to write down my feelings. I definitely was just expressing myself.”

So Glover isn’t suffering from a bout of depression? Well, yes and no, he says: “If I’m depressed, everybody’s depressed. I don’t think those feelings are that different from what everybody’s feeling. Most people just don’t tell everybody.”

In the end, he added, Glover is “glad” that he got everything in those notes off his chest: “It felt like I had been holding on to something,” he explained. Clearly, he had been avoiding making this sort of confession for awhile — “I was just tired of telling people I was tired. It felt like every day someone would ask, ‘What’s wrong. Are you okay?’ And I would say, ‘I’m tired, I’m tired,'” said Glover. “I didn’t want to do that anymore. I guess sometimes not telling the truth is just as bad as telling a lie.”

So there you have it. While Glover declined to speak more about his upcoming exit from Community, at least we know he’s okay; it’s a shame, though, that People didn’t think to ask why he’s scared he’s going to turn into Tyrese. Maybe next time?

Donald Glover lays all his insecurities bare, talks leaving 'Community' on Instagram

Hoo boy. Community‘s Donald Glover is really going through something, you guys.

About 19 hours ago, the writer-actor-comedian-rapper — still best known for playing Troy Barnes on NBC’s meta-sitcom — began posting a series of angsty, introspective messages on Instagram. The notes, handwritten on a Marriott Residence Inn pad (tagline: ‘Ideas Worth Saving”), chronicle a host of Glover’s insecurities, some serious (“I’m afraid of the future”), some that seem to be tongue-in-cheek (“I’m afraid that this will feel pretentious”), and some about Tyrese (“I’m scared I’ll be Tyrese”).

Glover followed his catalog of fears with another series of notes that address his upcoming exit from Community – Glover will reportedly appear in just five of the show’s upcoming 13 episodes — as well as his frustration with his record label, Glassnote. Apparently, Glover is hoping to release his next Childish Gambino album in December — but according to him, Glassnote has rejected that idea “’cause it’s not a holiday record and I’m not a big artist.”

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Joel McHale on Dan Harmon's return to 'Community' and his role in Klondike fever -- VIDEO

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With all the news surrounding Community lately, what with the reinstatement of Dan Harmon, Harmon’s podcast comments, and Harmon’s subsequent apology for his podcast comments, there’s a lot of intrigue surrounding the upcoming fifth season. Still, when we talked to Joel McHale yesterday, while he was promoting his new Klondike Celebrity Challenge, he seemed incredibly excited and ready to get back to work.

“With Dan Harmon back, it is really the sky’s the limit,” said McHale. “I don’t know what to expect. I mean, I know what to expect with Dan in that I know the scripts are gonna be dynamite and they will be absolutely unique and original, but I really don’t know what they have come up with.”

McHale said he “trusts Dan’s creativity implicitly,” and joked that the gang should start the new season on a space-station and then have to explain how all the characters got there.

And what about Harmon’s recent comments about his unpleasant experience of watching season 4? READ FULL STORY

Dan Harmon apologizes for trashing 'Community' season 4: 'I was not thinking about anyone but myself'

And thus another Harmontroversy draws to a close — at least, until the Community creator ruffles another set of feathers. (In other words: Watch this space.)

In a lengthy post that appeared on his personal Tumblr about five hours ago, Dan Harmon apologized profusely for badmouthing Community‘s fourth season during the most recent edition of his “Harmontown” podcast. The brutally, suicidally honest writer was recorded comparing the experience of watching those 13 episodes to “flipping through Instagram just watching your girlfriend blow everyone” and “being held down and watching your family get raped on a beach.”

The general gist of Harmon’s apologia: He spoke without considering anyone’s feelings but his own. “After five seconds of thinking, I realized, as usual, that other people might be hurt, and that I really need to do this whole ‘saying things and thinking about other people’ cycle in a different order at some point,” Harmon admitted. “I was very much not thinking about anyone but myself while watching that season, which was the crime [...] I was just indulging my petty feelings about being left out. It seemed kind of funny at the time because it seemed at the time like I was the only person with feelings.”

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Dan Harmon compares watching season 4 of 'Community' to... some terrible stuff

Only one thing could get Dan Harmon to watch the fourth season of Community, the NBC sitcom that was so cruelly ripped away from him last spring: being reinstated as his creation’s executive producer.

And now that he has watched it… hoo boy.

Harmon spilled his thoughts during the most recent edition of “Harmontown,” the digressive comedy show-slash-podcast he hosts with Jeff B. Davis each week. At first, his reaction was fairly tame; Harmon said he felt comfortable calling the season “not my cup of tea,” since it was obviously an “impression, and an unflattering one” of Community under his own stewardship. (The episodes in a nutshell, according to Harmon: “DURRRR! I’m Dan Harmon! DURRRR!”)

But after that assessment, Harmon got a little more graphic — comparing sitting through this past season to “flipping through Instagram just watching your girlfriend blow everyone” and seeing a friend “Like” a photo of your ex-girlfriend with her new boyfriend on Facebook.

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Point/counterpoint: Can Dan Harmon's return save 'Community'?

The good news: Dan Harmon is probably coming back to Community! The bad news, possibly: Dan Harmon is probably coming back to Community. Will this move revive NBC’s crazy college-based show — or could it spell certain doom? Here’s how two EW writers see things.

DARREN FRANICH: I really enjoyed the first three seasons of Community. The show wasn’t perfect by any means, but what I liked about it was the total go-for-broke spirit, the sense that every episode took a concept that could’ve been gimmicky — Law & Order spoof! Spaghetti western! Alternate-universe chaos theory! — and then rapaciously attacked it from every angle

I credit that spirit entirely to Dan Harmon, who is by all accounts an insane person who pours everything of himself into his work and desperately wants to make great television. When Harmon was fired from his post as showrunner, he immediately became a sanctified Great Man Of Television, because everyone loves a martyr.

But martyrs are boring. I was worried that Harmon would spend his post-Community career playing the martyr — which, much as I love him, is basically what Conan O’Brien did post-Tonight Show. Without Harmon, Community was pretty boring too: Even when it was funny, it never felt insane the way that old Community could.

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EW.com's 4th Annual Season Finale Awards: Vote now!

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Yes, there are a few season finales to go, but with the rush of surprise twists, cliffhangers, and exits behind us, it’s now time for EW.com’s fourth annual reader-voted Season Finale Awards. After taking your suggestions under advisement — and extending the cutoff date to March 31, because so many of you wanted to (dis)honor the passing of The Walking Dead‘s Andrea — here are this year’s nominees. UPDATE: Polls are now closed. Winners will be announced Friday. READ FULL STORY

EW's Morning Bite: And the best sound bite from last night is...

Submitted by Becky: 

Shirley: “I’d like to warp myself to a dairy-free mudslide.”
Annie: “That’s just vodka, Shirley.”
Shirley: “I know what it is!”

–Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) and Annie (Alison Brie) on Community

Check out the rest of your picks for Thursday, May 9 and come back Sunday to share your pick for best bite!

Read more:
‘Community’ season (series?) finale two-way react: Choose your own timeline
‘Glee’ recap: All or Nothing
‘The Vampire Diaries’ recap: The Walking Dead

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