Dan Harmon, the creator and showrunner of Community, was last week sacked from the show and replaced with David Guarascio and Moses Port. I'd imagine those poor guys are right about now either quaking under the bed covers or kidding themselves that they'll knock their episodes out of the park and "show us all."
Or maybe they've moved into the next phase and are bitterly regretting the deal. They'll get there sooner or later.
NBC's plan is for a final half-season to air, wrapping things up and giving some sort of closure – only, without Harmon on board that concept sounds like a bit of a stretch.
Harmon, as you'd imagine, is not pleased. He took to his Tumblr to set straight some facts:
I do want to correct a couple points of spin, now that I'm free to do so:
The important one is this quote from Bob Greenblatt in which he says he's sure I'm going to be involved somehow, something like that. That's a misquote. I think he meant to say he's sure cookies are yummy, because he's never called me once in the entire duration of his employment at NBC. He didn't call me to say he was starting to work there, 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. I'm not saying it's wrong for him to have bigger fish to fry, I'm just saying, NBC is not a credible source of All News Dan Harmon.
You may have read that I am technically "signed on," by default, to be an executive consulting something or other – which is a relatively standard protective clause for a creator in my position. Guys like me can't actually just be shot and left in a ditch by Skynet, we're still allowed to have a title on the things we create and "help out," like, I guess sharpening pencils and stuff.
However, if I actually chose to go to the office, I wouldn't have any power there. Nobody would have to do anything I said, ever. I would be "offering" thoughts on other people's scripts, not allowed to rewrite them, not allowed to ask anyone else to rewrite them, not allowed to say whether a single joke was funny or go near the edit bay, etc. It's….not really the way the previous episodes got done. I was what you might call a….hands on producer. Are my….periods giving this enough….pointedness? I'm not saying you can't make a good version of Community without me, but I am definitely saying that you can't make my version of it unless I have the option of saying "it has to be like this or I quit" roughly 8 times a day.
The same contract also gives me the same salary and title if I spend all day masturbating and playing Prototype 2. And before you ask yourself what you would do in my situation: buy Prototype 2. It's fucking great.
Okay, maybe that bit about Prototype 2 is a tad contentious, but I'm not going to argue with the rest.
Why was Harmon pushed? My best guess is that he just didn't get on with NBC, a number of their staff and… well, the show's longest-standing star, Chevy Chase. They've had some very public disagreements of late, perhaps exemplified by a very angry voicemail that Chase left for Harmon and which then "somehow" ended up online.
You can play that audio here.
So, it seems likely that NBC would have had to take sides, and went with Chase as he's public-facing on-screen talent, and part of the show's wider appeal in the broad mainstream. Well, if it has any. I expect it has very little.
But as you might expect, there's a lot of interest in Harmon's sacking, and it's something everybody who stays with the show is going to face some grilling about.
The Hollywood Reporter managed to get their hands on a memo from the network to the cast, providing them with pre-scripted responses to keep them on message in interviews. Here are the four questions and answers.
Why did Dan get let go from the show?
We're not made aware of why staffing changes take place but I will always be grateful to Dan for his great work on the show and wish him only the best. We're also excited that we'll be back on NBC's schedule in the fall and are looking forward to working on those episodes.
Were you aware that Dan was going to be let go?
No, that's not something we're consulted on. I'm sad to see him go but I am looking forward to starting our next 13 episodes of "Community."
Did the studio or network consult with you about these changes?
No they didn't but we're looking forward to working with David Guarascio & Moses Port on a new season of Community.
What are their plans for the new season?
It's a little early to say at this point but we're looking forward the stories our characters will find themselves in come Sept.
I can tell you first hand that an amazing amount of junket interviews are clogged up with nothing-talk like this. It's counterproductive, I believe, as it just leads to interviews nobody will want to read or watch or listen to, and eventually the whole junket model will sink into the swamp. It also makes the interviewee look like an idiot or a robot and diminishes their standing with the viewer or reader. No good can come of this kind of dribble.
Community will return for 13 more episodes in a few months time and they may, somehow, be the best in the show's history. More likely, they'll be an embarrassment, viewing figures will drop even further and the fourth-season section of the inevitable full-run box set will get treated more or less like that Attack of the Clones coaster that Fox so thoughtfully provided in their Star Wars box.