Monday, May 12, 2014

Nobody goes to college for six years, right?

The only thing I’m going to say about work today is that on Friday there came a point in the afternoon where I got some distressing (and completely unrelated to work) news and I said to myself, “Well, that’s it, I’m outta here.” Granted, this was about two minutes before the usual time I would wrap up and shut things down at the end of the work week normally anyway, but still, it felt more emphatic coming on the heels of the bummer announcement.

That announcement, of course, was the word from NBC that they had cancelled Community.

Or, if cancellation is something that happens to shows mid-season and leads to speculation about the ultimate fate of as-yet-unaired episodes, then NBC failed to renew Community for what would have been its long-prophesied sixth season, and this was officially confirmed not as something which NBC overlooked or forgot to do or was in extensive negotiations over, but basically a done deal. No more Community. (For some values of “no more”, though see below.)

I’m oddly mellow on this, believe it or not. Season five was pretty good, which means it was among the best of what the current tv landscape had to offer, but it was also the kind of pretty good which gets that designation relative to its own prior mind-blowing greatness. I more or less had to use the gif above under the circumstances, but of course Donald Glover wasn’t part of the show anymore, which did take away one of the more reliable bright spots through most of Community’s run. The show was on the downward slide, even as it was recovering from the stumbling overall strangeness of season four, because there were really only two places Community could go: back to the things that had originally endeared it to me, which would be comfortable and pleasant but no longer surprising, or into all-new territory, which might have stretched the whole premise (and its many meta-premises) into some weird unrecognizable shape. Season five was actually pulling some from column A and some from column B, but that’s not ideal either. So maybe it’s best to say the show ended where it should have. (OK, technically, it should have ended at the end of season 3, but then season 4 got it into syndication-lite numbers under new showrunners, and then season 5 at least allowed it to go out the way it came in, on Dan Harmon’s watch.)

I know that fairly recently I had expressed mild confidence that Community would be back in the upcoming tv season, because it was at least a known quantity and dependable for its small but steady viewership. So you might think I’d be more crushed given that my hopes were raised, and yet here we are. I still would have watched season 6, even as it continued its inevitable degradation through repetition and/or experimentation, don’t get me wrong, and I would have been happy to do it. But I got a lot of enjoyment out of the show over the past five years, and I’m all right with letting go. Now I won’t have the pressure to get the kids all tucked into bed by 7:55 on Thursday nights anymore, at least. Plus I can just keep an eye out for the “Complete Series” Blu-ray set at some point; I was planning on eventually getting every season on disc anyway, although the half-order seasons toward the end, still retail-priced the same as the longer earlier seasons, threw me quite a bit. Presumably the “E Pluribus Anus Collector’s Edition” will flatten out the price disparities in a package deal. I can even still look forward to new-to-me Community, in the form of the stray minutes here and there, and in some (very few) cases entire episodes, that I missed the first time around when my darling children were less than 100% cooperative about bedtime. So there’s that.

Oh, right, the see-below: so one of the first things my wife said to me when I broke the news to her (which, I will note, demonstrated a very telling element in our marital dynamic, as we both consider ourselves big fans of the show but my wife immediately took on the role of offering comfort to me as the bereaved, assuming the loss of the show would hit me harder, because I’m such an overgeeked kind of big fan) was “Hey, maybe someone else will pick the show up?” And I admitted the thought had occurred to me as well. We’ve seen, in the past few years, sitcoms change networks, hopping from one of the big four to another, or one of the big four to a basic cable network, or even as with Arrested Development recently from a network to Netflix. It certainly could happen. I tend to think, given the large ensemble cast and the fact that many of them (heck, just about all of them) have other things going on, that it’s more likely they might get together for one last closure-tastic movie than even an abbreviated season’s worth of episodes. But I wouldn’t say no to either/both/whatever third option, either. So, que sera sera, but for now, farewell to Greendale. It was good while it lasted (and maybe it will be good again some day).

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