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Discussion in 'TV Shows' started by joshEH, Mar 29, 2012.
*sigh* This timeline is now 51% darker.
That's what I was thinking when this was rumored earlier this week. I chalked it up it to internet fans dreaming up some drama since they didn't have the show's cancellation to worry about any more. Unless Dan Harmon was such a pain in the ass that they just couldn't work with him for 13 episodes or 13 days or even 13 minutes, they should have stuck it out for the last batch of episodes.
By the way, did anyone have any problems DVR'ing the three episodes last week? Thursday afternoon I checked my DVR and it showed three clock symbols on each of the three half hour slots. I thought "Good. It's going to record all three." Then while we were sitting down having dinner I checked each time a new show started and the red record light was on like it should be. But, when I went to go check the recorded shows the next day it had only recorded the very last episode. Thankfully I could watch them online but still, I'm not sure what happened.
My worst fear? They dumb it down, and the ratings go UP.
(A sudden spike in Prototype 2 sales will be the weirdest fallout from this, by far.)
Season 4 of Community is basically going to be the med-school season of Scrubs all over again, isn't it? Goddammit.
If Harmon's firing was due entirely to his personality, and a long time coming, why wouldn't they have just cancelled it after this year? The show has never had the ratings to warrant trying to protect it as a "brand." There's still a part of this story we haven't been told yet.
It's almost more depressing than an outright cancellation would have been. But I expect if Chevy played any role at all, it would not have to do with him doing anything directly, but more Harmon's handling of the situation, which was not terribly smart. And even then, it would likely have been part of an accumulation of things, than the actual cause.
Honestly, at this rate, it's going to take them so long to find their footing with all the new blood they're going to have to bring in...best-case scenario, they have things on track by episode 9 or 10. Of 13. I still have faith in the cast, but this is going to be one hell of a challenge for them.
(So the new showrunners were responsible for the pilot for the American version of The IT Crowd? Somebody hold me.)
Also, just wanted to add that I'm not even mad at a specific person, but rather a faceless, monolithic corporation.
I would really hate to be the corpo-humanoid Sony these days. I picture him ducking into dark alleys and scrambling up fire escapes to evade the roving lynch-mobs coursing the bleak cityscape for him. Questioning his life choices. Surely there was a better option to fund his dream that he's not permitted to discuss or acknowledge for another four years?
(Hell, he's never even met this "Dan Harmon" guy!)
Yeah, Chevy Chase hasn't been a star in 25 years and has been a living joke for the last 15 years so I doubt that he had any effect on the situation.
Exactly. While I'm sure NBC probably didn't appreciate all the bad press the Chevy/Harmon-feud gave them (or did they? Any publicity was probably good publicity at that point), I rather doubt placating the star of Snow Day was very high up on their list of reasons when the sack-decision finally came down.
I think what's disappointing here is that the show came SO CLOSE to the ideal of four seasons and then a neat, tidy ending. Most shows are either cancelled too soon, or else overstay their welcome. Community almost hit the sweet spot of lasting no more or less than it had to, the same way Arrested Development and Battlestar Galactica (IMHO) did.
Likewise, Breaking Bad also appears to be bowing out right when the story demands it, rather than at the dictates of the network/studio. The point about there still being a good run to enjoy is valid, but when a show -- or anything else -- manages to bow out with a largely untarnished legacy, it really does make things extra-special.
I think part of the reason The Beatles are as revered as they are is that their legacy is near-perfect, and they broke up just as they were possibly beginning a downward spiral in quality (I'd argue that stuff like "The Long and Winding Road" and "Octopus's Garden" were bad signs, as indeed was Wings, retroactively), thus giving us the absolute maximum of great stuff without flaw.
The original Star Trek series, same thing -- had the show gone on, NBC and Freiberger would've produced what would likely have been an epically-shitty fourth season. It died just when things were starting to go downhill, but it had still produced way more "good" episodes than "bad" ones, up to that point.
This really does make a difference -- David Bowie released genius album after genius album for years, but he entered a long fallow period of crap in the late '80s, and that damaged his rep (though admittedly, it's recovered recently).
British TV gets this better than most -- sure, there might have been another great season of Fawlty Towers, but making sure there wouldn't be another CRAP season was almost as important. On the flip-side, look what's happened to The Simpsons, once the nigh-indisputable funniest American TV show of all time. Or look at the horror DC is preparing to unleash with Before Watchmen.
This stuff, to use soulless marketing terminology, "damages the brand." It reduces the highs.
Eh, while many shows eventually run out of steam, I think it's completely on a show by show basis. Shows like Seinfeld, The Larry Sanders Show, The Sopranos, Lost and Mad Men (not finished but still excellent) were on longer than five years and went out strong (not at the top and not always the same as when they started but they didn't have anything to be ashamed of either). All in all, I'm still trying to be cautiously optimistic towards the next season. It's unlikely to be as good without Harmon but it still might be good. Like I've said, the cast is one of the best on TV and the new show runners must know that they've got to immediately bring their absolute A game because critics and fans are going to be ready to pounce if it's not good. Someone with Harmon's trackrecord gets some slack if there's a weak episode or two but the new guys get killed.
There's a case of where I'm sure the people working on those books are MASSIVE fans of the original book and want nothing more than to try to honor Moore's work but the whole problem is that everything you needed to know about those characters was given to you in the original series so any new stories (even if they were written by Alan Moore) are pointless. That being said, I'm sure it will be a huge hit and in a year or so, Batman will be hanging out with Rorschach and the Watchmen charcters will be no different than the rest of the superhero crap that DC or Marvel pump out.
"New Community Head Writers are Meeting Current Writers to Talk About Staying."
Ganz and Bobrow both have to stay, if this show is to stand any chance of remaining any good, IMO -- they're basically the core of the remaining old-guard at the moment, and losing them will hurt the show incalculably (well, more "incalculably" than it's already been hurt). The vast majority of Ganz's episodes are solid gold.
From the initial Vulture article on Saturday, I can slightly understand -- though certainly not agree with -- Sony/NBC letting Harmon go, but the way they did it was pretty classless. Thing is, you could tell Dan Harmon obsessed over the details, and put a lot of effort into this show. It was his show, and he didn't mind not Minecraft-ing or Skyrim-ing for a few days if it meant finally pulling a given episode together.
Instead, Dan Harmon was like Mitch Hurwitz during Arrested Development's original run -- doing crazy hours to pull out all the stops, and to top himself. He rewrote virtually every single script. He made other writers cry. You're not going to replace that obsessive-manic element he brought to the table.
Also, Variety has posted a rather interesting look at the new incoming producers' overall predicament, as it currently stands:
"The No-Win Situation Facing NBC's Community."
We might've gotten Neil Gaiman writing for Community.
M*A*S*H showrunner Ken Levine's own take on Harmon's termination.
And finally...Dino's been really bringin' it on Twitter:
Harmon's problem was pretty obvious, though.. he pointed it out on his own:
In the end, the network basically said: a showrunner who continuously threatens to quit on a low rated show can basically go pound sand. I recognize that a lot of people love the show, but Harmon basically has behaved in running the show like Matthew Weiner.. minor problem: he doesn't have a stack of emmy's and good press to back him up. Eventually, that gets you the hook.
Really, I tend to agree the show would have been better sacked. For those that rake Bob Greenblatt (and I'm in the boat) it isn't for hacking up Community... NBC really needed to cancel absolutely everything on Thursdays (Community, 30 Rock, Parks & Rec, etc.) because whether or not it had a following or not, all of them had ratings in the absolute toilet. NBC isn't responsible for putting on cult shows with almost no ratings.. it has to build up some ratings somewhere to bring in shows. And right now, none of them are doing this... a show that draws a 1.3 Average is barely staying above the CW, and it's getting killed by Telemundo. That just isn't good enough basically.
One other thing: I agree with the assessment that the more bitching and bellyaching that Harmon does, the harder time he'll have finding a job.
If NBC could get any of their new shows to do anything, I'd agree but that doesn't happen so they'd be fools to dump the few shows that they have that at least get critical respect (Community and Parks And Recreation are on most serious critics Top 10 lists). At this year's Emmys, Parks And Recreation is a lock to get nominations in most or all of the major comedy categories (and somehow lose). Now that Harmon got canned, I think even Community has a chance at a "Fuck you" nomination too. NBC can't get ratings with anything so they might as well go for something resembling prestige by having some critical favorites.
The AV Club just put up a new analysis (from the always-spot-on Todd Van Der Werff):
"Why Dan Harmon’s Firing from Community is Just the Latest Shot in an Increasingly Familiar Showrunner-vs.-Network Battle."
If the show is still good (I mean, "up-to-the-fanboy-standards-good") it won't find a bigger audience. If it panders, it will just hurt the show's longevity. The show wasn't a ratings juggernaut, but post-hiatus, it was showing improving numbers.
This was really just a stupid decision all around, but no one's head will roll for it. The worse-case scenario is it dies a quick death on Fridays next year, which doesn't hurt anybody at Sony.
A number of people will not watch in any Nielsen-meaningful way on Harmon-loyalty principle alone (barring stellar early reviews). The Whitney crowd is not going to stick around to watch it. And people got shit to do on Fridays, yo.
The best they can hope for right now is a larger share.
I feel like the area where the brass are still behind the times is how increasingly plugged-in fanbases are to the behind-the-scenes aspects of their favorite shows, and none moreso than Community, where Harmon was notoriously, some would say unhealthily, interactive with people on Twitter and such.
Most viewers will probably remain unaware of the shake-up, but I would think even a small dip in its numbers would swing the calculus toward cancellation, since it was so borderline to begin with. Harmon's particular level of interaction with fans is one more reason why this is the worst possible show to do this with.
if Harmon thought that a job was more important than a soapbox he wouldn't be in this situation in the first place
That implies a conscious decision. As children, we're taught to think before we speak. Some of us never learn that lesson. Speaking as someone who puts his foot in his mouth on a semi-regular basis, I think Harmon is one of those people.
My only hope is that Harmon had a wind-down plan for the fourth year, assuming it was the last of the series, and that this can be implemented, either via proxy-role, or through the actors and writers that stay with the show.
While Harmon specifically will have relatively little power even if he chooses to stay in a limited role, the actors collectively -- at least the recurring actors, minus Chase -- could easily enforce doing what Harmon wanted, even if he's gone from the show. That's really the show's only chance.
I don't know if Harmon was surprised by this, but he actually left Community in a much better place than either Sorkin did with West Wing, or Palladino did with Gilmore Girls. That is to say, not exploded.
Another update on the post-Harmon situation:
I mean, if that's even 50% true, Harmon shit the bed, and has no one to blame but himself. I love me some Community, but you still have to play ball occasionally.
Still, it looks like most of the remaining writing staff (Megan Ganz, Andy Bobrow, Adam Countee, etc.) will be returning next season -- and it looks like Harmon isn't hurting for new work, either:
Here's something interesting;
Sony tells cast what to say about firing
Someone had to write that memo with a straight face.
"Marketing-speak" is lower on the totem pole of the written word than Star Trek-based furry-slashfiction.
Very interestingly, Alison Brie is supposed to be on Conan tonight (Thurs., 5/24). Wonder if she'll stay on-script? I would laugh if she pulled out the memo and read her talking-points verbatim.
(Also, I don't think the words "looking forward" were used quite enough in that memo...)