Can Community Survive Without Dan Harmon?

NBC’s hit comedy Community was nearly (and totally implausibly) canned earlier this year, so you can imagine our excitement when we heard that it would be returning for a fourth season last week. Yet, our unbridled joy was seriously diluted on Friday when we heard that creator and show-runner Dan Harmon would not be part of the new episodes.

But while most of the Community-loving community are outraged with Harmon’s axing, a few people have argued that it could be the right decision for the show. Which, we think you’ll agree, is a bold call.

If you’re a Community fan, you’ll probably remember with dread the moment you heard that Harmon had gone. “I got firedâ€? he announced on Tumblr at the end of last week, before explaining that the NBC bosses had treated him rather shabbily. Hearing a sacked employee slag off his former employer isn’t unexpected of course (we’ve been prank calling a website that sacked us for nearly three years now..) but Harmon’s rantings don’t seem that unreasonable to us.

“Sony Pictures Television is replacing me as showrunner on Community… They literally haven’t called me since the season four pickup, so their reasons for replacing me are clearly none of my business.â€? He then went on to say that NBC’s Bob Greenblatt’s vague promise that “he would be involved” was clearly utter rhubarb.

“…he’s [Greenblatt] never called me once in the entire duration of his employment at NBCâ€? and “…he didn’t call me to say I was no longer working there and he definitely didn’t call to ask if I was going to be involved.â€?

Most fans have been going mental online, with some even talking of boycotting the show, but others have suggested that Harmon’s removal might not be such a bad thing. Brave souls..

“After a brilliant season one, the so-so season 2 and the rollercoaster great/awful episodes of season 3, Dan Harmon’s departure is just what’s needed.” said one fan on Twitter, although they did come in for some abuse from fellow viewers.

Another argued that “Harmon has been unprofessional all year (the very public Chevy Chase arguments, along with reports of late scripts and poor management putting everyone’s nose out of joint), and it seems like NBC would only feel comfortable with more Community without him in charge.”

The crux of the argument that these agent provocateurs are putting forward is that Dan Harmon has refused to compromise with NBC bosses and that it’s better to have Community minus Harmon than no Community at all..

While the show might have a loyal and fervent following, it can’t be denied that it is heading for ‘cult’ status. American ratings dipped below 3 million for the first time at the end of season three, a factor which we must assume contributed to the long and drawn out decision to renew it for a shorter fourth season.

Yet for most fans, the whole decision stinks of corporatey money-grabbing and a lack of respect for fans and writers alike. Like so many other TV shows – Mad Men and Arrested Development to name just two – Community is a unique product of Harmon’s weird and wonderful mind, so going on without him will be pointless, because the mood can’t be replicated. What’s more, who are NBC to take the show away from him? It’s like someone kicking Lennon and McCartney out of The Beatles.

If we presume that it’s the ratings that are concerning NBC, then do they seriously think they can improve ratings without Harmon? Surely he can’t have been so difficult to work with that it was worth getting rid of him? It seems certain that we don’t know the whole story yet, but either way, NBC now seem to be stuck with a show that’s had its soul ripped out..

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