I’ve mainly talked about two TV shows on this site, and that’s not by accident. I reviewed the whole fifth season of Community and wrote about why you should watch Hannibal. Some of you went out and watched Hannibal too, so that’s cool. They’re great shows, easily my two favourite shows on TV right now. We’ve now come to that time of the year where television announcements for next year are arriving. Both these shows had me nervous, both seemed ripe for cancellation. One had the finish line in site, one was just getting going.
Community didn’t make it, Hannibal did.
Community kept finding new low ratings to sink to this season, which is sad because it was a vast improvement on the previous season and had a few all time great episodes. But it’s especially sad because it was so very close to its arbitrary six season and a movie goal. It’s not exactly surprising though. Community has always been a bubble show; meaning its ratings were always shy of what the studio wanted. This is a show with three episodes designed to be series finales in a pinch.
There is a faint glimmer of hope. NBC may have cancelled the show but Sony owns the final rights, and they’ve reportedly been shopping them around. It’s easy to imagine another channel, or ideally an alternative home like Netflix, trying to cash in on the show’s devoted fan-base. The show’s creator, Dan Harmon, had some poignant things to say about the news:
I have always tried to be as transparent with you guys as possible, letting you in on the process of making (and not making) Community. So maybe my silence on the issue of a hypothetical sixth season seems frustrating. I was thinking I could stay quiet because there’s too much to say and anything can become a headline because of the timing, and I am so very sick of clicking on my dumb fat name and seeing my dumb fat face in that dumb photo where I’m pointing at the camera and my hands are inexplicably tiny despite being closer to the camera.
But, I’m getting tweets from some anxious sounding fans, tweets that make me anxious because I feel like I’ve made THEM anxious with my silence, etc.
The general feel of my twitter feed is “well, what should we do, do you want us to petition/riot/negotiate/scream or do you want us to say goodbye and let it be done?” There’s also references to an article in an industry gossip blog, which I won’t click, indicating that everyone in the world BUT me wants to shop Community around. And probably featuring that fucking weird tiny hand photo. Or the one where I’m snarling and my teeth are like corn kernels.
Let’s start with that, the idea that I don’t want this to continue. I don’t think I’m the guy that gets to say what happens at the more effective levels – my career would have a different shape if I were that guy. I’d fire everyone that fired me, give all of you a raise, let the audience pick which pilots go to series and keep shows running as long as their subscription revenue was a dollar over their budget. I am not Mister Shot Caller Guy. That guy went to a better school, didn’t drop out and has lizard blood.
I will confess, however, that when Sony called me on Friday with the news, there was brief discussion at the end of the call about the concept of the show living elsewhere, and I was definitely in the “eh” column. For a million reasons, some selfish, some creative, one logistic, five sexual, three racist (in a good way) and, oddly, nine isometric. I won’t bore you with them. I mean, of course I will bore you with them. Boring you is my job, my hobby and my passion. But it doesn’t matter right now WHY I’d be lukewarm or if my reasons would be valid, what matters is, I won’t be lukewarm. I’ll heat up. I said “eh” on a Friday afternoon, I will change it to a “sure, let’s talk” on Monday morning and Sony can do their thing. I’m not going to be the guy that recancels cancelled Community.
I’m scared to tell you how little a difference I think my enthusiasm will make. I know fandom, when it gets this deep for this long, becomes almost religious, including the urge to stone the less than faithful. But there are lots of reasons a Community resurrection could be difficult. So be prepared for that. Which brings us to the other thing, the first thing, that most of the anxious tweets are about:
What do we, the fans, do? How can we help? Whose dog can we kidnap? Should we eat at Subway? Does Obama know? Should I have this tattoo removed? Was that Abed in Captain America 2?
I honestly think you can totally sit back and relax for this chapter. I know you don’t feel relaxed but I mean you don’t have to worry that someone on this planet isn’t aware of this show’s value to its audience. There are actually astronauts on a space station right now saying “we get it, you love Community” in Chinese. You have done your thing.
If you want to know the God’s honest truth, part of my “eh” was coming from the unsettling thought of your passion for campaigns being once again exploited by this rather unfair, somewhat backward system, one that now treats you like it’s your responsibility to keep a show alive, like a corporation is doing you a favor by feeding you low grade opiate through a regulated tube. Like you owe them an apology when they can’t measure or monetize you to their satisfaction. You deserve better. I love you guys, and at its best, Community is me saying that over and over again, saying let’s get less mad at ourselves and each other and more mad at the inhuman systems that keep us down and divided. “Maybe it should have said less of that and more jokes.” Shut up, voice of my grade school principal that also coached and umpired softball because shrieking “steeeeeeerike” at children was his sole recourse to virility.
Anyway, I will not be standing in the way. I’m sorry to anyone that’s really taking this cancellation hard. I know how I felt when these fuckers killed Max Headroom. But you sit back and treat yourself to some New Girl and Parks and Mindy and Brooklyn 99 and Eagleheart and Portlandia and have you seen Matt Berry’s Toast of London? It’s awesome. Also not to be selfish but maybe check out Rick and Morty. And let TV be the needy clown that it’s still very overpaid to be, and let the suits deal with the suits and see what possibilities exist. That’s the best we can do for now. Ninety seven episodes. Over eighty pretty good ones. Mission accomplished.
By the way, remember when you complained about that one episode? Bet it’s not looking so bad now, huh ass face? Just kidding, I know it sucked. I was going for something cooler and – whatever, I don’t need to explain myself to you. Marry softball if you love it so much. I’m gonna be special when I grow up!
Daniel Anastasia Harmon
It’s really easy to see this going either way. The news of Community’s sudden revival wouldn’t surprise me any more than the news of its cancellation did. It seems likely we’ve truly seen the end of the show however, and I think that’s actually okay. It felt like another season would’ve been a challenge (though perhaps a new home could help reinvigorate Harmon). Really we’re just lucky we somehow managed to get five whole seasons of this show. We’re very lucky Dan Harmon got to make four of those seasons. We’re very lucky we can rewatch the show on Netflix. We’re very lucky Dan Harmon has a new, wonderful, show we can support. It’s sad to see Community go, but I think we’ll be alright.
Bryan Fuller is no stranger to early cancellations. His show Pushing Daisies is routinely placed on lists of fan-favourite shows cancelled before their time. Hell he’s never had a show make it to season three, until now. Hannibal got renewed, which is absolutely wonderful news. There seemed to be a fare amount of doubt about Hannibal’s future, doubt that was rather exaggerated by Fuller’s track record. But we’ll get to see more of Mads Mikkelson and Hugh Dancy next season!
Hannibal has a potentially brilliant future, Fuller plans to incorporate the entire series of books as the show progresses. That means eventually we’ll get a season adapting Silence of the Lambs and the other previously adapted books. That’s an interesting and fascinating prospect, one that definitely deserves to be seen. The show has only been improving too. The first season was great, but season two has gotten less episodic and started taking Will Graham down some surprisingly immoral paths. It’s more gripping and shocking then ever, and the craft seems to be improving too.
I have to admit it was a tumultuous couple of minutes opening up my Twitter feed the other day. In quick succession I saw that Hannibal had been renewed, then was overwhelmed by the waves of fans mourning the loss of Community. I was thrilled about one, and saddened by the other obviously. Maybe this should serve as some kind of lesson, you guys better help keep Hannibal on air! This is a long story with loads of potential and it really should be seen through. All these fans popping out of the woodwork after Community’s cancellation are going to desperately try to save the show, so if you like it maybe toss a hashtag around here or there? Course it seems that the shows future is totally in Sony’s hands now. The most we can do is spread the word when we find a good show, and hope we can keep the studios from making terrible decisions.