If you spend any time on the Internet (what a great opening to this post, which is being written on a blog that exclusively exists on the Internet; we’re already off to a great start, let’s see where else this sentence takes us), you know that Dan Harmon, the creator of the television program “Community,” was fired from the show last year and has been rehired for the show’s upcoming fifth season. (Okay, so I guess the sentence ended up in a rather pedestrian information dump sort of place. That happens.)
You might be wondering why he was rehired, since he is the exact same person and he is returning to a very low-rated show. Josef Adalian, as he is wont to do, explains a little of Sony’s logic in this useful post. I’m not going to excerpt from it at length or even really explain much of what it says here because quite frankly that would dissuade you from even clicking the link, and you should click the link since Adalian did the reporting and wrote the story and I am merely referencing it (and, let’s be honest, if you care at all about the issue involved you already clicked the link, so excerpting it also seems pointless).
I will say that “Community,” as it existed through its first three seasons, was a wonderful supernova of a show, a bizarre and perfect little gem that was not for everyone but was, for people who felt a connection with the material (at least as much connection as you can feel with a TV show), a special, bizarro kind of perfect. The fourth season was, as many have said, a pale imitation, the televised version of going to a restaurant where you have a favorite sandwich only your regular person isn’t there and the new person uses the same bread and the same ingredients but everything just tastes a little off. (Good metaphor, very robust and relatable.) The episodes were neither good nor bad, but they were so slight that I keep forgetting I still may have one or two episodes left on my DVR. The fifth season may or may not reclaim what made the show, at its peak, such a marvel. But at least now it is imbued with a promise that wasn’t there before.
“The Office” has churned through essentially every imaginable station of sitcom-related public opinion. It has been the ill-advised adaptation of a British classic; the clear and tired rehashing of something we’ve already seen; the surprisingly solid, decent-but-not-great sitcom missing a few pieces; the very, very good sitcom built around a likable burgeoning movie star; the great sitcom of the moment; the show that is on the decline; the sad, former shadow of its former self; the beloved institution; and, finally, the show we’re going to miss, even if we stopped caring about it a few years back. Continue reading →
Netflix released this trailer for “Arrested Development” on Sunday. It’s not a great trailer. But this was never a show that lent itself to being tidily summarized in ads, so I’ll choose to focus on enjoying seeing the cast in action again:
I used to approach this period on the TV calendar with quite a bit of apprehension (the kind of apprehension where I knew it was just about TV shows, not about anything of any actual personal or material importance, but a kind of apprehension nonetheless), because typically, most of the shows I like have always been either on the bubble or on their way out. There’s no real reason for this. I don’t intentionally eschew shows with big ratings or anything. We can’t control what we like and what we don’t like, and when it comes to television — a medium where, if you opt to watch a show as it airs, you’re deciding to commit yourself to a certain numbers of hours each year (unlike, say, watching a movie or listening to an album, where the time commitment isn’t so large) — the vast majority of shows fail, so the odds of you happening to find a new show and realizing it’s for you and that show being renewed repeatedly are fairly slim.
In recent years, as most of the network shows I watch have either wound down or become unwatchable, this has been less and less of an issue. Most of my favorite shows — the shows I feel like I have to see — aren’t on the broadcast networks. The shows I liked on the broadcast networks this season are, for the most part, ending on their own (“30 Rock”) or are safely returning (“New Girl”). There are shows I used to like, and those became poor shadows of themselves (“Community” and “The Office,” which is also ending). There are really only two shows on the so-called bubble I really wondered about: “Happy Endings,” a delightful live-action cartoon that remains in limbo (though I’m oddly confident in the reports that it will be picked up by USA), and a show that I really like and highly recommend but also a show that is just very entertaining; and “Parks and Recreation,” the best show on network television for a few years now. I like “Happy Endings.” I love “Parks and Recreation.” And so the fact that NBC has opted to bring it back for a sixth season is just terrific.
If there are two things that this blog likes — and there are more than two things, many more, because we’re all human and we all have a diverse array of likes and dislikes, but for the sake of this post we’re going to focus on two things in particular — this blog likes Louis C.K. and this blog likes David Lynch. (I mean, obviously. Lots and lots of people like Louis C.K. and David Lynch. This blog also likes ice cream, because this blog makes the DARING LIFE CHOICES.)
We have important and breaking* news, if you consider who hosts “The Tonight Show” or “Late Night” to be something even remotely important, and unless you are reading this from a retirement community or an NBCUniversal office, you probably don’t care all that much.
These days the people who make television are expected, for a variety of promotional and fan base–stroking reasons, to engage in something resembling dialogue with their viewers. But Harmon was the first showrunner who seemed like he was creating a TV show in order to have that dialogue. Community was Harmon shooting off a flare gun to attract like-minded weirdos, articulating a worldview — institutions are bad, individuals are good, normalcy is an illusion, people who feel uncomfortable on the planet constitute a kind of sociocultural 99 percent, what we all have in common is our brokenness. Every character represented a facet of his personality; every episode was packed with callbacks and homages and fractalized sub-references aimed at people who, like him, had been warped and saved by pop culture at an early age. And he wanted us to know he was doing this. He didn’t just want the attention that came from blogging, tweeting, Reddit-ing, and annotating every episode for the A.V. Club — he seemed to need it, for reasons deeper than ego or vanity. He wanted to be out there in direct communication with the small but passionate group of people who liked his TV show because he wanted to connect.
The headline of this post is almost too obvious, because of course Connie Britton is great. I mean, is there a person out there who is both (a) aware of Conne Britton’s existence and (b) not a huge fan of hers? Of course not. Of course there is no such person. (The best part about this argument is that it’s so steeped in data and research that it is clearly bulletproof.) Anyway, the New York Times Magazine profiled Connie Britton, so feel free to read that if you would like to read about how she was probably too tall for the Renee Zellweger role in “Jerry Maguire.”
Awesome, just an awesome report from the Daily News:
There’s word that NBC brass are ruminating over Jay Leno’s future — which would involve finally giving their current late-late guy comic, Jimmy Fallon, the coveted job as the host of “The Tonight Show.”
The latest rumblings about Leno come from various talent agents who admit they have quietly been contacted by NBC officials hoping to find a new late-late host who will eventually take over Fallon’s 12:35 a.m. time slot.
First: Jimmy Fallon’s show premiered in March 2009. What is this “finally” business? Secondly, Leno’s contract is up in 2014. Does anyone actually care who hosts “The Tonight Show” anymore? Of course not. It’s “The Tonight Show.” But yes, sure, let’s all get riled up about “Tonight Show” rumors, because we had so much fun the last time we (BRIEFLY) cared about “The Tonight Show.”
There was this sense that it wasn’t going to last, so the network wasn’t really going to try to fix it. I’m not sure you could get away with those things on a show that isn’t about to be canceled.
An oral history of “Freaks and Geeks”? Sure, I guess. I mean, there’s an audience for everything, so maybe that’s the kind of thing that will interest a few people? (And yes, it’s just as delightful as you might hope.)