Feb 09 2013

Lake NeuronLake Neuron: Troy and Abed in the morning

Original post at http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/LakeNeuron/~3/c-AK-UegkB4/

I’ve been a huge fan of the sitcom “Community,” which left the air in turmoil nearly a year ago, amid poor ratings and the departure of creator and executive producer Dan Harmon. The show had such a unique comic vision, and was so mishandled by NBC, that most fans were upset about Harmon’s departure, blamed the network, and felt that the show, if it ever returned, wouldn’t be the same.

Harmon, to be fair, is a pretty volatile personality, and no doubt his own worst enemy in his dealings with the network (not to mention his dealings with one of his stars, Chevy Chase). I occasionally listen to his podcast, “Harmontown,” and it’s easy to listen to the guy on the podcast and wonder how anyone ever gave him the keys to run a television program on a major network. [UPDATE: I posted that link before listening to the latest episode of the podcast. The content in the first part of this episode was a little more offensive than usual, and so I've de-linked it.] But I also think he’s a comic genius, and that research-based network interference would no doubt taken away what makes the show so unique.

“Community”’s announced season premiere last fall got postponed at the last minute, which seemed like a bad sign, but the show finally returned to the air this past week. I had taken the standing order to record it it off DVD during a period of extreme pique over Harmon’s departure, and I forgot to watch the show Thursday night, but I finally caught it this evening on Hulu:

Well … it wasn’t bad. It really wasn’t bad. It was hard to just relax and watch the darn thing without trying to parse every last joke or comic premise. “Would Dan Harmon have done that?”  But if there were fears that the new showrunners were going to try to placate NBC and Sony by making the show more conventional, they were soon allayed. In fact, the episode makes fun of the idea of an accessible, dumbed-down “Community” by showing you what it might look like – as a three-camera, filmed-before-a-live-audience daydream taking place in Abed’s mind. (Abed even imagines on-screen “bug” promos for other shows on his imaginary network.) Amusingly, in Abed’s imaginary sitcom world, the part of Chevy Chase is played by Fred Willard.  Chase, who apparently couldn’t get along with the new producers either, will be leaving the show later in the season, assuming that NBC airs the entire season.

There’s even an “Inception”-inspired daydream-within-a-daydream, a nod to “Muppet Babies.” No sitcom other than “Community” could be described by a sentence referencing both “Inception” and “Muppet Babies.”

If you watch the season premiere, follow it all the way to the end – there’s one cast member who is missing for most of it, but turns up in strange circumstances right at the last moment.

I think I’ll give the relaunched show a chance. As my brother Michael and I sometimes say about “The Simpsons,” even if it’s not as good as it used to be, bad “Simpsons” is still better than a lot of other shows on TV.

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