As some of you may know, I’m a very big fan of the television show, “Community.” To fans of this show, it's frustrating that it has been routinely underestimated by NBC. It’s no surprise that they would do this after a few of their other decisions. Indeed, the only other television show I watch on that network is “Parks and Recreation,” another perennially underrated television program. Interestingly, when “Community” went on (it’s first) hiatus back in 2011, one of the shows it was replaced with was “Parks and Recreation” but I digress. Since that first hiatus, the program has undergone a ton of scrutiny and even more contention. Most recently, Chevy Chase has decided to exit the program, effective immediately. This raises some questions: Will this be bad for “Community”? Will there be a replacement? What does this mean for the future of the show?
|Starting cast of "Community"|
For starters, let’s talk about why this is probably bad for "Community". In the past few seasons, the character of Pierce Hawthorne has been more miss than hit. Don’t misunderstand, I think the character is important to the show, but this past season hasn’t seen him utilized particularly well. Unfortunately, the best possible scenario for Pierce has always been as an antagonist. His character just doesn’t seem to work when he’s in line with the rest of the group, especially when compared to the charisma of Troy and Abed. However, without Pierce, we would never have been gifted such episodes as the video game episode (Digital Estate Planning), the season 2 finale (he saves the school, after all), and most importantly, Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. I’m not saying that he’s the worst character, because let’s be honest; they all have their annoying moments. Remember when Troy was into sports? Yeah, I thought you might have forgotten about that. What I’m really trying to say is that, even though some of Chevy’s comedy is stale, his character, when it worked, added TONS of quality programming to the show. In my opinion, his leaving is a bad thing.
|Instant classic episode|
With the exodus of Chase, it would seem there’s a position that just opened up on the show. The antagonist role of Pierce, made most famous by the Dungeons and Dragons episode, is one that has already been filled before: Senor Chang. If you ask me, however, when Chang fills that role, it’s not done as well as when Pierce wears the mantle. Chang has most benefited the show when he was in a position of authority. Never has his character been funnier than when he was their Spanish teacher. However, the show can’t continue with them having him as a teacher when they would only have him for 2 semesters, so they tried to move him to a different role. It is fairly apparent, when you think about it, that there were not many ideas of how to do this. For 2 seasons he just hung on and became crazier and crazier. During that time, he didn’t add anything to the show, he was just… weird. With Chase leaving, I’m betting that they are going to use Chang to fill those gaps. My hope is that he will become a saner person, because those episodes in which he was saner were much more entertaining. Take, for example, Senor Chang messing with his students in class. We get some fantastic scenes where he says things like “90% of Spanish is in the hand gestures”, or where he shows up with a boom box after tricking the class into thinking he was dead. Even better, when Chang wasn’t a crazy weirdo, we got the best paint ball intro ever. So on the question of if there will be replacement; I believe the answer is a “yes, with qualifications.” Chase added something to the show that only he could have, but the writers would be silly if they didn’t try to capture what he brought to the show by utilizing the other characters more. Whatever holes in the story would be there without Chase can fairly easily be filled by Ken Jeong’s character Chang, but I’m not sure it’ll be up to snuff.
Ultimately, when cast members start leaving the show, it’s never a good thing. When I think about the potential future of “Community” I’m left with a sinking feeling. Chase isn’t the first person attached to the show that has left. Indeed, NBC fired the man who created the show, Dan Harmon. This doesn’t mean the show will necessarily be worse, but I’m fairly certain that it won’t be the same “Community” that we’ve grown to know and love. Fortunately, with his departure from the show, Harmon has ultimately benefited. Hmm, there’s an interesting coincidence of people benefitting after NBC has pulled the plug on them. Which brings me to my next point: I don’t think NBC really knows what they have with this television show. I’m well aware that Community isn’t a Nielson friendly show, but I also happen to be of the opinion that this system of ratings is entirely outdated. We live in a time where nerds like me are becoming more and more common. Why I bring this up is because I watch the show on the Internet. Yes, I watch it on NBC’s website, which is horrible. Their website only contains about 4 or 5 episodes from the show, and they don’t appear to be in any particular order. Why doesn’t NBC do what Comedy Central has done and place some ads online to generate revenue. The internet is probably just a fad, though. My point is that many people these days don’t pay for television cable boxes (what is used to determine Nielson ratings). In my case, I opted to save money by using the internet exclusively (with Netflix... love/hate relationship there!). What I’m trying to say is that, with the economy being pretty bad still, young people who haven’t been working for 15 years, and haven’t established themselves, a going to save where they can. Frankly, we can't go without the internet. We grew up with it; this is how we connect with the world. NBC continues to alienate this crowd of people, and it’s going to be interesting when the boomers start dying off, leaving us as their only potential viewers. Have fun with that, NBC.
Ultimately, I’m disappointed in what’s happened to the show. It’s clear that Chase wasn’t utilized well as a character, and thus it’s not surprising that he would have left the show. Among the characters that remain on the show, we need to see more from Chang and Shirley. I like both of these characters, but often times it seems that there really isn’t a good place to put them. That’s not to say that there haven’t been times when it’s been good to have them around. Each of them has brought positive things to the show. It’s my opinion that Chase is completely justified in leaving the show, and it’s also my opinion that his leaving will be bad for the show in the end. If I had to pick one character to leave the show, it wouldn’t have been Pierce, but the choice has been made by fate. Perhaps this will be a serendipitous occurrence, now that the fat has been trimmed (or the fat will be turned into muscle, more like). I’m eager to see what is going to happen, and I choose to take a stance of cautious optimism. Nevertheless, despite my hope, the logical side of my brain is telling me this is not a good thing.
Let’s see what happens, shall we?