Who had the biggest dick? (May 23, 2012)

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Because if there’s one thing the Internet needs, it’s another blog post about Dan Harmon leaving Community.

On May 18, 2012 Sony Pictures confirmed that Dan Harmon would not return as showrunner for the NBC comedy “Community.” The story was just another slap in the face for Community fans during a week of up-and-down news. First, fans had their fears of cancellation abated when NBC revealed that yes, the show would return for a fourth season, albeit only 13 episodes. And then NBC announced the show, while returning, would not go back to its 8:00 p.m. Thursday time slot, but rather air on Fridays. It’s a depressing move, but I can see NBC’s logic behind it. It’s clear Community isn’t going to gain any new fans anytime soon – and the show certainly seems like it isn’t trying to, either – and the fans it has now are ardent enough to follow it to a new night (or at least NBC hopes). I’m sure a lot will follow it, but I’m betting the number of online views of the show on Saturday mornings skyrockets.

And then came the news that Harmon would not return to Community as its showrunner. I can’t really explain how I feel about the show now. I was expecting the fourth season to be the last, and I was happy for that – go out before it gets stale (i.e., Arrested Development, Party Down) and waiting to see how Harmon would finish his masterpiece of a TV comedy in a 13-episode final season had me giddy.

But now that Harmon is out – along with most of Community’s writers and producers from past seasons – I’d rather the series ended with its conclusion on May 17. Its well known that Harmon has more control over his show than the typical showrunner, rewriting and OKing every script and every other decision made during production. Community is very much Harmon’s brainchild. And while definitely not the most accessible show on television, it’s a neurotic, pop-culture-referencing testament to what happens when a show has its sights set on groundbreaking creativity rather than Neilson ratings and ad sales.

But I’m afraid that’s all going to come to an end. I have no doubts Community will return next season as a shell of its first three seasons – the actors trying their best to stay true to character but without Harmon’s scripts guiding them, they’ll only come up short.

It might seem ludicrous to attribute a show’s success wholly to one man, but with Community it’s justified. Harmon poured himself into the show. He’s known as a jackass, a poor manager, and the least of people-persons. But he’s brilliant at what he does – or did – and for that, I give Harmon the biggest dick for this week.

The fact that NBC and Sony had no contact with Harmon before the decision to replace him just adds to the whole debacle. I highly suggest reading Harmon’s own blog post about the ordeal. As self-serving and self-pitying as it might seem, it’s refreshing to see an honest, unfiltered account of the matter (even if it’s only one side).

Thank you, Dan Harmon, for the last three years. I’ve watched Community from the very beginning – I remember sitting in my dorm room watching the pilot as it aired – and I’ll be there till the [now definitely bitter] end, even if it’s without you.

Honorable mention: The OKC Thunder, the hot dog cart guy at Columbus Circle

-Ben Cosman

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