Have you ever had a chronic pain like a headache or a soreness that you don’t bother complaining about because 1) no one would really care, 2) it won’t do anything and 3) it might even make it work bringing attention to it? That’s how I’ve felt for the past year or so with the mishandling of the (probably very) last season of my favorite sitcom Community. Now that the season/series is officially over I feel that now I can break my silence and let some frustration out.
I love Community from the first season even until now. It started like any other oddball single camera prime time show but over the seasons it gained its own distinct voice and personality. The assemble cast was spot-on. Every character had their trademark that made them unique and lovable in their own way. It became meta, self-aware and as creator Dan Harmon says, “had its head up its own ass.” It appealed to the film geek and television nerd. It was a higher and smarter comedy.
Now, I knew that dark days were ahead with the ratings war was going on last season. It was getting crushed by the heavy hitters of The Big Bang Theory over at CBS. And that’s all that matters to networks; ratings are what appeals to advertisers. Without good ratings, there is no show because there will be no funding. So what is NBC’s solution? Cut it in half to save money. Okay… I think the writers can work with half the time, they’re smart. No. There goes the creator, the main brain behind the writing. Dan Harmon is removed from his position and made a “creative consultant.” And if things can’t get any worse, it gets pushed to mid-season. Great. We’ll have Christmas and Thanksgiving episodes in the spring. Perfect. Mishandling on no one’s but the network’s. Pitiful.
It all translated to the quality of the show. It was easy to see. This past season wasn’t the same. How it was before was an interaction between very different characters where everyone was correct in their own right. But now, the dialogue turned to the traditional set-up/punchline rinse and repeat bull that all other sitcoms were great at doing. No. Not Community it’s not like that. It’s not those shows.
Let’s go back to what should have happened in season 4. The set-up of the last episode of season 3 was flawless. The darkest timeline was destroyed. Jeff made the decision to contact his dad; an shadow that hung over him for the entire show. Chang was setting up to take over Greendale for City College. Britta was apparently moving in with Troy, Abed, and Annie (at least that was my impression.) These three things weren’t capitalized on. Jeff’s dad was supposed to be a conman. How great would it have been to have that kind of psychological battle that Jeff wages with himself? It would have made an incredible episode! The whole over-arching season should have had the infiltration of Chang and City College. No. They had to mess around with the idiot “Changnesia” and waste Ken Jeong’s talent on a horrible version of the most maniacal professor/student/officer. Lastly, there could have been another “bottle episode” of the four in the apartment and the differences with guys and girls in their living habits. Would’ve made a simple but brilliant episode.
But I try to critique what a product IS and not what I hoped it could have been. What it is is horrible. Sorry. I had high hopes…maybe they were too high? I don’t know, but the idea of an Inspector Spacetime convention was riveting to me. Had great potential. Squashed by an incompetent writing staff. The puppet episode would have been great to explain why Pierce was cut from the cast (except he showed up in the last episode or two) but I guess the creators couldn’t be inventive.
I don’t know the specifics and logistics behind making a TV show, I’m just a writer, but I’ve seen more clever things coming from this staff before. Anyway, this was just my rant. I’m sorry that Community had to go down in such ugly fashion. At least we’ll have season 1-3 to watch for forever.
The last episodes were passable, I’ll give them that.