Monday, February 18, 2013

The Sad Slow Death of Community

It took me a while to warm up to Community.  It was a quirky, meta, self-referential comedy that didn't seem to care if you got all the jokes.  They knew who they were, they knew who their fans were, and, while they hoped you came along for the ride, they weren't interested in making everyone happy.

Over time, Community grew to be my favorite comedy on TV.  It was everything I wanted a comedy to be.  Nerdy, obscure, unafraid to take risks (like an entire claymation episode or that brilliant D&D themed episode).  It was like comedy nirvana.

Because of its low ratings, I treated every episode as if it would be the last.  Each new visit to the dreamatorium was sacred and special.  I didn't care what was happening behind the scenes...until NBC fired Dan Harmon, the creator of the show.

I'd never heard of Harmon before, but you can always tell when a show's creator is in the DNA of the show she created.  Supernatural isn't the same show it was under Eric Kripke, and Moffat's Doctor Who is totally different from Davies'.  There was something special about Community; something self-assured that I knew had to come from someone who knew these characters better than he knew himself.

So, as NBC, against all odds, renewed Community for another season and replaced Harmon with a couple of new show runners, I worried that my favorite comedy was gone.  Not dead yet, but lingering in sickness in the most undignified way.

It's possible for a new showrunner to take over and flourish.  Sera Gamble did a nice job with Supernatural, and I much prefer Moffat's Doctor to Davies'.  But to achieve that, they have to find a way to stay true to the history of the show while somehow making it their own.  Not an easy task.

I watched the first episode, hoping against hope that the new writers would find their way, that they'd somehow maintain Harmon's vision while making Community their own.  I was severely disappointed. But, I gave the second episode a watch, figuring that maybe it would take some time to get it right.  But this Halloween themed episode (really?  In February?!?) was even worse.  It featured the kind of broad, beat-you-with-a-hammer humor I'd expect to find on Two and a Half Men.  It was Community, but not Community.  It was like some bad CBS sitcom had gutted my beloved show and was prancing around in its skin.

I won't be watching the next episode.

But this is why artists are important.  You can create art by committee, but it'll never be as good.  Art needs someone with vision.  Someone who puts their heart into a creation and brings it to life.  Someone who knows and loves the characters like they're real people...because they ARE real people.  Sort of.

This goes for books, movies, TV shows.  Everything.  The corporate world seems to think that art is merely a commodity and that artists are interchangeable.  They're wrong.  Community just proved that.

I just hope that NBC puts it out of its misery and doesn't drag it out.  It deserves that at least.


  1. Oh crap.
    I'm a Community fan, but I haven't watched my DVRed new episodes yet.
    I love the quirkiness and Joel McHale is amazing. I will watch an episode just to see but I'll probably stick to The Soup.

    1. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I expected it to suck and so it sucked, but even my partner, who doesn't overanalyze everything to death the way I do looked at me after the first new ep and said it just felt like something was off.


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