Community showrunner Dan Harmon with primate performer portraying Annie’s Boobs.

I’ve long felt that Community should be a four-season series.  It’s college after all, and community college is supposed to be for only two years.  I suppose they could stretch it out with some sad-but-true employment/economic commentary, but in this Thursday’s trio-episode season finale (rushed to close out May sweeps thanks to a woefully delayed season premiere from NBC), I started to feel more strongly the “been there, done that” conclusion voiced by Jeff Winger.  Okay, you’ve learned to be friends –  again – and you’ve learned that friendship requires some self-sacrifice and forsaking of vanity – again.  I think we’ve gotten enough out of Jeff in this respect.  Maybe Abed should do the voice-over for a while.

While I now feel that Community is becoming overly familiar (even when the characters are shown as crude video game avatars for almost the entire episode), I do hope that the fourth and final season doesn’t besmirch what I’ve considered the best show on TV for its run up to now.

Besmirching the preceding seasons is a clear and present danger since NBC Sony just fired Dan Harmon as  Community‘s lead showrunner.  I think the show has always had a cohesive vision, which is an achievement considering some of the episodes, including one in which the entire community college is rendered zombies by contaminated army food at a school function and Chang possibly impregnates Shirley during the period when everyone’s memory had been wiped by a gas circulated by the army, which had quarantined the school.

Annie searches in vain for an escape from the Halloween zombie situation.

Yeah, that sentence summed up an actual episode that not only happened, but had repercussions in later stories and even merited its own specially created flashback for an ALL-NEW clips episode.

It was at that precise point that I wondered if anyone at the network was keeping track of what was going on.

AND it was a musical, just like its Rankin/Bass inspirations.

Now I read that Dan Harmon has fought repeatedly with the network, which comes as no surprise, since I don’t think any committee of higher-ups would be on board with an episode devoted to an autistic Muslim man’s delusional visions of Christmas depicted in his private imaginary world (well, one of his imaginary worlds) shot in stop-motion photography as an ode to the Rankin/Bass claymation Christmas classics of yore.

Somebody had to fight for that, and it was worth every shouting match and fist pounded on a board room table.

And maybe somebody had to end up fighting Chevy Chase.  Did his public feud with Dan Harmon lead to Harmon’s firing?

If Chevy Chase wielding his weight as a star is part of the problem, I think I’d rather do without Pierce Hawthorne than Dan Harmon.  I love Chevy Chase in the role, but not enough to witness his star power wreck the show.  I know that he’s probably an insufferable dick in real life, like I imagine Bill Murray to be.  They’re both fantastic, but they can both be replaced.  (Bernie Mac replacing Murray as Bosley didn’t ruin Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle; just about every other aspect of the production did.)

I would’ve handed Chevy Chase his Emmy on the spot for his scene on the ladder in Advanced Gay.

Chevy Chase would’ve been great as Jeff Winger forty years ago. Now he’s spectacular as Pierce Hawthorne. Does he not see the gift of this character?

Pierce is the best character that Chevy Chase has ever, ever had, and he should be thankful that he’s working at all considering that he’s old and a jackass.  Yeah, I grew up with SNL in the early days and got dragged to all the Vacation movies.  Pierce – and the performance by Chevy Chase as Pierce – make him the best character the actor has ever had.

In fact, all the characters on Community are precious diamonds, each one cut to perfection.

Can someone else really understand the characters already in place, where they’ve been, and where they could go?  Could they get Evil Abed?  Could they get Abed, period?  And if so, will they fight tooth-and-nail for Abed?

Will they understand that Leonard, Garrett, Vicki, Fat Neil, and MAGNITUDE are integral to the show, even though they seldom get more than one line.

Minor characters never meant so much.

Jeff in the white room from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Do they know that the show relies more heavily on references to itself than it does to the widely celebrated meta-jokes and riffs on tropes?  It’s more than Jeff walking into the white room from 2001: A Space Odyssey (which will get its own post) or Jeff screaming into his cell phone: I’m doing a bottle episode!”  I  mean, they took a one-off gag with Pierce bouncing out off a trampoline and then had him in a wheelchair addicted to painkillers for months!  This is a show that must stay true to itself!

Chevy Chase still in leg casts long after his trampoline accident.

Is the Community set like the episode Filmmaking: Redux?  Did Harmon have to fight to the point of insanity like The Dean for every absurdly splendid story, driving everyone involved into manias and identity crises in the process?

Somebody has to be exactly that crazy.  Who is going to step up?