Tuesday, June 4, 2013


I’m still, ever so slowly, working on a post about the fourth season of Community, which I promise will hit the blog some time before season five begins. (Community is expected to once again be a mid-if-not-late-season replacement series, so I’ve got time.) But I felt compelled to make at least some token acknowledgement of the recent news revealed this past weekend, indicating that ...

No, no, stand down, everything's all right. The big news is that the series’ creator and original showrunner Dan Harmon would be returning for the coming season.

I’m pretty much a diehard Greendale booster and I didn’t turn on the show in season four, but pretty much every episode danced back and forth across a line where on one side I still felt great affection for the characters and appreciated the work the actors and writers were doing keeping their stories going, and on the other side there was a sense of disappointment and falling short of how great the show could have been, if it hadn’t been trying too hard in some ways and not trying hard enough in others. Obviously I don’t know Harmon personally but I’ve read a few long interviews he’s done and I get the feeling that he’s fairly intense, which is of course its own double-edged sword and at least part of the reason why he ended up being booted from his own show. But it’s also, I suspect, the reason why the first three seasons were so good, because Harmon was a relentless and demanding micromanager who knew what he was doing. So while a lot of shows start to slack off in quality as they get older and characters get broader and writers run out of ideas &c., I genuinely believe that Community’s less-than-ideal fourth season had more to do with the tortured genius who brought it forth no longer being at the wheel than with any of those other factors of televisual entropy.

So I’m psyched that Harmon is coming back, and I have high hopes that this fall(winter?)’s run of Community will once again be the kind of appointment tv that doesn’t simply put a smile on my face but actively makes me yell at the screen “I freaking love this show!” I know it may very well become overhyped in my mind, and Harmon may have an even harder time wrestling what the show has become back into the kind of shape he expects it to take, and it may never again be the crazy mainline rush of awesome it was when it was shiny and new. But then again, it might.

The strangest aspect of all of this is that, what with my obsessive following of behind-the-scenes entertainment industry news and whatnot, I was privy to a fair amount of other equally rabid fans saying things like “Well, maybe season four will suck so bad they’ll realize firing Harmon was a mistake and they’ll bring him back!” which was usually answered by expert insiders saying “Guys, don’t hold your breath. Showrunners who get fired don’t get re-hired. It has never happened. If season four sucks, Community will most likely get cancelled and that will be that.” And yet, here we are, with various critics and commentators fully admitting that the system managed to surprise them by doing something they had dismissed as zero-chance. So it just goes to show that anything is possible.

Even, apparently, an ousted creative type being reunited with his mistreated passion project for at least one last hurrah. I’m gonna go ahead and call it right now: season five should end with Shirley, Britta, Annie, Troy and Abed’s graduation ceremony, a proper one with caps and gowns and a commencement speaker and everything, and Harmon should be the commencement speaker giving the most meta speech in the universe about sticking to your guns, second chances, and the philosophy of sitcoms. Mostly the sitcoms.

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