I spent the entire third season of “Community” wondering if there was going to be a fourth. Much like “Arrested Development” before it, “Community” has become the quintessential acclaimed show that has a very-dedicated-but-very-small fan base. Luckily, after 8 months of anxiously pacing my room waiting to learn my show’s fate, things worked out: “Community” was given a 13 episode order for a fourth season.
So, everything’s “cool, cool, cool” now, right?
Eh, not exactly. The show will be going forward without its creator Dan Harmon, who’s one of the biggest reason’s why it’s so damn good/weird. Harmon had admittedly been a bit of a jerk, going out of his way to start shit with Chevy Chase (who to be fair, is a much bigger asshole), but that sort of thing is a small price to pay for someone as brilliant and innovative as Harmon has been.
Perhaps the worst thing about his canning was the dishonest, unceremonious way Sony went about it. They claimed he would be staying on as a consultant, when really they just flat out pushed him out of the way. Harmon lashed out at the network in a scathing Tumblr post (well, as scathing as a Tumblr post can be), and you couldn’t help feeling bad for the guy. He was fired from the show he had dedicated the last three years of his life to in a rather cruel fashion.
Can Community survive without him? That probably depends on what your standard for survival might be. The show was left in the capable hands of David Guarascio and Moses Port, who previously worked on “Happy Endings,” a show that I’ve never watched, but I’m told is quite good. I don’t think this pair will run the show into the ground, but they will probably change a lot of things. The show’s joyful weirdness was largely, if not entirely, because of Harmon. Under the guidance of Guarascio and Port, I could see the show still being very funny, but lacking the quirky charm that made me love it in the first place. It will likely turn in to another typical sitcom, albeit a very good one.
Of course, this is what NBC wants. The show has consistently gotten weak ratings, and by making so many meta-jokes, and giving the show such an internal focus, Harmon likely made it harder for new viewers to get into the show. There was a lot about characters’ personalities that you had to already know in order to completely understand what was going on. By going with a team who will make the show more conventional, NBC is essentially sacrificing the show’s uniqueness in order to make it more accessible. Like a beloved indie band switching to a major label.
It’s a somewhat reasonable trade off. Instead of just getting rid of the show, NBC wants it to appeal to a mainstream audience. I can understand that, but the way Harmon was pushed out was unfair, and there’s a decent chance the show will fall to pieces without him. Maybe “Community” will become a smash hit that everyone agrees on (like, say, “Modern Family” I), or maybe everything good about it will be completely ruined, and the diehard fans will be praying for its cancellation. Whatever the case, it certainly won’t be the same.
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