At the end of The Naked Gun, Ricardo Montalban’s character Vincent Ludwig is shot in the neck with a blow dart. After Frank Drebin assures a concerned citizen that “He’ll be alright in a couple of minutes,” Ludwig tumbles over the railing and plummets to the ground below, where he is immediately trampled by a bus, a steamroller and finally a marching band. The way Community has been treated by NBC over the past year, I imagine everyone involved with the show now knows exactly how Ludwig felt.
For those keeping score at home, here’s what’s happened to the Internet darling.
It all began in January when the show’s spring return was delayed to open up a spot on Thursday nights for 30 Rock. It was an understandable move, but one that wasn’t explained well by NBC, leaving many fans thinking their beloved show (which got low ratings by network TV standards, but has a huge cult following online) had been canceled.
After finally airing the remainder of season three, the show was ultimately renewed for a fourth season … but only for 13 episodes. Then showrunner Dan Harmon, the creative genius behind Community, was fired by Sony because he doesn’t play well with others (most notably Chevy Chase). And when this year’s fall schedule was announced, Community was moved from Thursdays to the barren TV wasteland that is Friday nights and, worst of all, was paired with the universally-panned Whitney. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they decided to delay the season premiere until October 19.
And now, as one more fuck you to the much beleaguered show and its equally beleaguered fanbase, NBC has announced the show’s debut will be delayed again. This time, indefinitely.
NBC is doing this because, after being stuck in fourth place the last few years, they are actually number one in the coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic, thanks in large part to The Voice. Not wanting a little thing like success to ruin their phenomenal streak of making idiotic PR moves, they decided to punish Community (and Whitney too). So they took them off the schedule, instead of simply exiling Community to Friday nights and letting it die a slow, quiet death.
“Without having to launch these comedies on Friday at this time, we can keep our promotion focused on earlier in the week — plus we will have both comedies in our back pocket if we need to make any schedule changes on those nights,” NBC said in their official statement.
The “back pocket” comment gives fans some hope that the show could end up getting placed on Wednesday or Thursday nights, replacing whatever “starring a monkey doctor” or “produced by Jimmy Fallon” show ends up tanking in the ratings and getting pulled from the lineup. But still, that means best case scenario is that one of the most brilliant and ambitious comedies of the modern era will be plugged into a scheduling hole to air its final 13 episodes, which are being written by the creative force responsible for Just Shoot Me.
At this point, I honestly just wish the show was canceled. If new episodes are aired, I will, of course, watch them, but in some ways it would have been nice to just have the show go away when Dan Harmon was kicked off of it. I’m used to shows I love being canceled before their time – shows like Firefly, Awake and Terriers. The fact is, we get spoiled here in America with long runs of network shows. In England, there are plenty of brilliant shows that only ever air six or 12 episodes (and maybe a Christmas special or two). Community has already given us 71 episodes, which is plenty. I can simply rewatch “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons,” “Cooperative Calligraphy,” “Remedial Chaos Theory” or any of the many other great episodes whenever I want on DVD. And I can spend my free time fantasizing about episodes that never were. (Like I do with the massive Firefly/Terriers crossover arc I’m writing in my head.)
If the show simply went away, I could properly grieve, then move on and simply remember the good times we had together. But instead, NBC has me and all of the other fans of the show trapped in this never-ending Charlie Brown football situation where they keep toying with our emotions and taking the show away from us bit by bit. I’m doing my best to avoid a full Troy Barnes-esque meltdown, but at some point NBC needs to just make a decision about the fate of this show and stick to it.
You’ve shot the show with a blow dart, knocked it off a football stadium and run over it with a bus, steamroller and marching band. It’s time to pull the plug and to leave us to sob into Frank Drebin’s bosom. Maybe the complaints of an Internet bloggers don’t amount to a hill of beans, NBC. But this is our hill. And these are our beans.
Let Community die in peace.
(Or shut up and give us six seasons and a movie.)
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.