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A Mother Of A Long Story

March 31st, 2014 No comments

(the year 2030)

Kids, in September of 2005 your mother and I began watching a television comedy about a group of single twentysomethings living in New York City. No, not that one. Not that one, either. This show was kind of like those, but it owed more than a little to the British comedy Coupling and especially the sci-fi mystery Lost. Yes, the one about the island. No, I wasn’t sure what was going on there, either.

This show I’m telling you about was like Coupling and Lost in that it played with non-linear narratives, including flashbacks, flashforwards and flashsideways. It built an extensive, decades-spanning mythology of callbacks to prior (and future) episodes.

And it was also like Lost in that it was working toward a definite narrative endpoint, but because it was being produced for one of the commercial broadcast networks (remember those?), it couldn’t be certain whether it would have one year to tell its story, or five. Now, kids, the producers of Lost realized midway into their third season that this was an untenable situation, that there would be endless wheel-spinning unless they themselves declared a definitive end date.

Unfortunately for the show I’m telling you about, it became too successful and lucrative to end gracefully. And so it dragged on to nine full seasons, which was arguably at least three too many. Ironically, in its early run this show had always been on the verge of cancellation, but in its final years many of its most passionate fans began to wish it would just wrap things up already.

And now that I think of it, this show also reminded me a little of Will & Grace in that it had a breakout supporting character who was a borderline sociopath, but who became so popular with the audience that he began to redefine the show. His self-indulgent exploits went from barely tolerated to fully embraced by the other characters, and as time passed they too became broader and more selfish.

Kids, I know that you haven’t moved or shown any outward sign of interest since I began telling you this story, but I’m pretty sure that you’re wondering why your mother and I kept watching this show for every episode over nine years. Well, there were a few reasons. My affection for the characters was strong enough to carry me through even their later, lesser adventures. At its worst, it was still a pleasant enough diversion on a Monday night. Plus, my own dad had a penchant for not getting to the point. And the most important reason? I wanted to know how the story would end.

How did it end, my non-existent future children? I was just getting to that…

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Ruh-Roh

April 5th, 2013 No comments

Laid low today with the head cold that’s been going around, I was able to watch the final two episodes of Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated live. This last week has seen the show carry through with its crazy-as-a-soup-sandwich take on the venerable kids’ franchise.

Remember last week, when we learned that Scooby-Doo was descended from interdimensional aliens? And he visited the Black Lodge from Twin Peaks? Well, this week’s run kicked off with the entire Scooby gang venturing into that same sinister Red Room to meet up with the dancing dwarf, played once again by Peaks‘ Michael J. Anderson.

Oh, and later this week, this happened…

Yes, that’s Scooby-Doo blazing away with arm-mounted gatling guns. And check out the weaponized Mystery Machine.

The whole thing wrapped up in apocalyptic fashion, with a tentacled, Lovecraftian entity collapsing the town of Crystal Cove and eating…well, pretty much the entire supporting cast. If all of this seems rather dark for a show about a mystery-solving Great Dane, that was rather the point. The metaplot of the series was that the entire town–including and especially the various “four investigators and a talking animal” teams throughout the centuries–was tainted by this ancient evil.

It occurred to me about midway through this week that by turning the Mystery Incorporated kids into the latest iteration of an archetypal monster-hunting team, the writers were treading close to The Cabin in the Woods. I began to wonder which of them was The Virgin. (My conclusion: Scooby.)

While the ultimate ending leaned heavily on the reset button–which, come on, it had to once the whole community was fed to a titanic octopus-parakeet–it was a satisfying wrap-up that set those meddling kids back to the beginning and firmly onto the path they’ve traveled since 1969.

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?

March 29th, 2013 No comments

I swear that the programmers at Cartoon Network suffer from ADHD. Shows will disappear in mid-run, pop-up five months later at a different time and day, then inexplicably vanish again with several episodes still unaired. It’s frustrating, and doubly so if the series in question has an on-going story arc.

I’ve written before about Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated, which earlier this week reemerged from a forgotten closet at Cartoon Network headquarters to finish out its long-neglected run in a weekday afternoon burn-off slot. It should wrap up next week, unless the head of programming spots a shiny object.

Perhaps the very qualities that made Mystery Inc. such a compelling series for older fans of the characters are what kept it bouncing around the schedule. It broke from the standard Scooby formula in favor of a two-season, 52-episode long storyline.* It romantically involved Velma and Shaggy, had Daphne (and later Velma) temporarily break from the gang, and revealed that Fred’s adoptive father was a villain who’d blackmailed his birth parents (who were part of a previous Mystery Incorporated team) into giving him up.

Even more remarkably, it introduced elements of real danger. A couple of supporting characters have been killed (off-screen, but still) by the sinister machinations of Professor Pericles, the talking parrot who was the real brains behind the earlier incarnation of Mystery Inc.

Okay, I realize that I have just typed the phrase “the sinister machinations of Professor Pericles, the talking parrot.” This ain’t exactly House of Cards. Yet, the notion that something going out under the Scooby-Doo banner has a murderous bird in it is strange and wonderful.

And then, yesterday, this happened.

Scooby-Doo visited the Red Room (aka the Black Lodge) from Twin Peaks. Okay, it was a dream, but so was the original Red Room. And as the scene involved a metaphysical entity speaking to Scoobs through his dog girlfriend,** I’m willing to accept that yes, Scooby-Doo was in the Black Lodge. Agent Cooper and BOB were presumably in the next room over.

And what was discussed? Oh, just that the reason certain dogs (and parrots) can talk is that they are the descendants of the Anunnaki,*** extradimensional spirits who can only physically exist  by inhabiting the bodies of animals.

Mind. Blown.

Okay, maybe I do understand why this didn’t fly at the Cartoon Network. But that anyone ever allowed it to happen in the first place is as peculiar as any ghost encountered by those meddling kids.

*Thanks to the delays, said storyline will finish out three years to the day from when it began.

**Again, I totally get how ridiculous this seems when I type it out.

***The Anunnaki are a “real” thing, in that they feature in real-world crackpot theories regarding the rogue planet Nibiru (also namechecked in Mystery Inc.) and the end of the world. 

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The Truth Is Around Here Somewhere

March 2nd, 2013 No comments

Last Saturday was a milestone for our fair campus community: the 30th Annual Insect Fear Festival. Run by the Entomology Graduate Student Association at the University of Illinois, the Festival presents our ingrained anxieties about things that creep and crawl through the prism of bad movies.

This year’s fear fest was also notable for the participation of Chris Carter (seen sitting on the left in this photo from the event), creator of the television series The X-Files, as well as Emmy award-winning writer Darin Morgan (seated to the right). They were in attendance for a screening of the 1996 episode “War of the Coprophages,” one of several that Morgan wrote during his all-too-brief time on the staff of the sci-fi/horror/conspiracy drama.

“Coprophages” (literally, feces-eaters) is a spoofy installment in which a Massachusetts community* panics in response to a series of cockroach-associated deaths. Spoiler alert: the cockroaches are really mechanical probes from another world. Or not. The X-Files was that kind of show. More on that in a bit.

One of the script’s many in-jokes is the inclusion of a beautiful entomologist named Bambi Berenbaum, named for Dr. May Berenbaum of the University of Illinois. (“Her name is Bambi?” says an incredulous Agent Scully, to which Fox Mulder replies, “Yeah. Both her parents were naturalists.”)

It’s all great fun, and not just because of the comically-large cell phones our heroes keep pulling out. It also features one of my all-time favorite TV pranks: a cockroach which appears to crawl across the viewer’s own television screen.

Watching it again with an appreciative audience reminded me of just how good this show was in its early seasons. There’s a reason that it inspired so many knock-offs.

Following “Coprophages” was a screening of the first X-Files feature film, sometimes known under its promotional title Fight the Future. Set between the events of the show’s fifth and sixth seasons, it is–to my mind, at least–sort of the Grand Unified Theory of the franchise, an attempt to tie together various seemingly-unrelated alien incursions into a single conspiratorial invasion. It’s also, arguably, the last time that The X-Files was any good.

After that, the show’s underlying mythology grew ever more convoluted, asking two questions for every one it (unsatisfyingly) answered. Fox Mulder was eventually written out when actor David Duchovny became tired of the E.T.-hunting grind. The shadow government central to the show’s backstory was eliminated, only to be replaced by yet another group of extraterrestrials.

Lured back for the series finale at the end of its ninth season, Mulder showed up just long enough to endure an interminable show trial during which the franchise irrevocably disappeared up its own ass. Even worse, the finale left hanging the prophecy of a final, all-out invasion scheduled for December 22, 2012. Yes, that December 22, 2012.**

Never mind that the hoped-for follow-up movie series never materialized. A half-hearted attempt to revive The X-Files resulted in 2008’s I Want to Believe, a film which went after a wider audience by doing away with all that monster and alien stuff and managed to attract only crickets. December 22, 2012 came and went without so much an alien-human hybrid clone to be seen.

To bring us back to the present, questions of a third film were very much on the mind of the X-Philes who attended the Insect Fear Film Festival. Chris Carter could only demur that if he was given the chance to make another movie, he’d be very interested in addressing the whole apocalyptic space invasion thing, as if in denial that that particular flying saucer had sailed years ago.

After Fight the Future screened, there was another Q&A session with Carter. I went up to the microphone and commented about how the movie marked the halfway mark of the series, that we hadn’t even gotten to the “super soldiers” or Scully’s half-alien miracle baby. (Yes, that was a thing that happened.) I said that a few years after the show ended, I’d begun to speculate that perhaps the whole thing was really Chris Carter’s meta-commentary on real-life conspiracy theories, which seem to grow ever wilder and more confusing the more one tries to explain them.

He answered, “No. We thought it all made sense.”

Which may be all the explanation The X-Files will ever receive.

*”Miller’s Grove,” named for Grover’s Mill, the town in which the first Martian cylinder landed during Orson Welles’ infamous 1938 radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds.

**This was the first time I heard about the so-called Mayan doomsday prophecy. Sadly, it would not be the last.

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Beautiful Days

February 27th, 2013 No comments

I’m reminded that it was ten years ago today that Fred Rogers left us. Here’s the tribute that I wrote that morning, which was subsequently picked up by the public broadcasting news outlet Current as well as several PBS station program guides.

Mister Rogers was one of the first programs that I can remember watching. I was, of course, part of the show’s target demographic back then. I can’t recall much from my preschool years, but I do know that I loved the trolley, I loved the neighborhood and I loved Fred Rogers.

Like many early loves, it faded with age and distance. I moved on to programs intended for older kids: flashier, action-oriented, violent in the ways that caregivers and watchdogs lament and children adore. For the most part, I forgot about Fred and his neighborhood, reminded only on occasion by the parodies that proliferated in the ’80s as yesterday’s innocents grew into sarcasm and despair.

Let’s face it, it was easy to mock Fred Rogers. He had a simple style and a cadence that invited imitation. He stubbornly retained old-fashioned production values in an era of hydraulic-powered Muppets and computer-generated dinosaurs. Further-more, one could assign all sorts of hidden motivations to his soft-spoken manner and his devotion to children. Comedians, fools and cynics wondered aloud whether a beast lurked within such a seemingly humble man of God.

Mister Rogers re-entered my life once I began my career in public television. I worked as a master control operator for WYIN in Merrillville, Ind., in the late ’80s. One day, working the afternoon shift, all heck broke loose: The transmitter was down, the chief engineer and the program director were shouting and frantically hitting buttons. I was still very new, and very nervous about keeping my first broadcasting job. As my anxiety mounted, I focused on the eye of the storm, the oasis of calm, the 17-inch screen in front of me: the one on which Fred Rogers offered words of quiet reassurance. It was a moment I hope I’ll never forget.

Over the years, I became fascinated with the program, deconstructing its messages and marveling at the bizarre flights of fantasy that often emerged from the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Mister Rogers had a way of tying together everything, making connections that defied adult logic. A segment on silverware inspired an opera about a trip to Spoon Mountain. In Fred’s world, your friend might be a Purple Panda from Planet Purple, and your king might sing “Row, Row Your Boat” in the most complicated manner possible.

Several years ago, Mister Rogers made the keynote address at the PBS Annual Meeting in Miami. As always, he spoke of simple, but important ideas: acts of caring, the need to love and the need to be loved. When the speech and the conference concluded, many ran to catch their planes and to return to their worlds of adult responsibilities. But a great many lined up for the opportunity to spend a few moments with the kind old man who had greeted them each morning so many years ago. Grown men and women were moved to tears as they hugged their childhood friend.

For his part, Fred waited patiently, shaking hands, posing for photos, signing conference program books and giving each person all the time they needed to express their feelings. He stayed for at least an hour, long enough for me to get through the line, then to run to my hotel room and fetch my wife so that she could hug and cry as well.

People have subsequently asked me, “Is he really the way he acts on TV?” My response has always been, “He’s exactly what you see on TV.”

That’s what I remember most about Fred Rogers. He was a man who could temporarily wipe away years of bitterness with a few words reminding us that We Are Special, each in our own way. Fred would probably reject this notion, but I feel that he was perhaps the most special of all of us. The world needs more people like Mister Rogers. There can never be enough love, acceptance and affirmation.

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Disharmony

May 21st, 2012 No comments

In another kidney punch to the collective psyche of Onion A.V. Club commentarians, Community creator Dan Harmon was sacked from his own TV show last Friday night. (Cue the animated .gifs of a weeping Alison Brie.)

I will be blunt. Absolutely no one should have been surprised by this development, least of all Dan Harmon. NBC aired the final three episodes of the season last Thursday and the results were beyond abysmal: fewer than three million viewers enrolled for the first installment, and a half million of those had dropped out by the finale. The 1.3 rating for adults 18-49 (the prime demographic for advertisers) was a series low.

Harmon’s iconoclastic vision, his alleged budget overruns and his very ugly public feud with actor Chevy Chase were all big, flashing arrows pointed toward Shitcan Land. You can get away with one or perhaps even two of those things if the ratings are good, but…

I argued some time ago that Community‘s reliance on high-concept episodes was a major reason that it has had such trouble connecting with a wider audience. And the show knows it: the third season started with a song-and-dance number that promised “We’re gonna have more fun and be less weird than the first two years combined.” Which, of course, it didn’t do. Since it returned from hiatus, it’s presented an elaborate Ken Burns-style documentary about a pillow-fort war, a Star Trek holodeck-inspired bout of personality-swapping, a Law and Order parody (ironically, one of the more accessible episodes) and a group therapy session in which an evil shrink attempted to convince the study group that the community college they’d attended the past three years was a shared psychosis.

And that was before the opening act of last Thursday’s triumvirate, which spent nearly all of its running time animated in the style of an 8-bit videogame.

“All true,” I hear you saying, “but isn’t it better to have a TV show so singularly noncomformist than one that emerges hot and steaming from the stamping press of mass-appeal TV?” Well, made-up-person against whom I have biased this argument, that depends.

Here’s an ugly truth. A television show is not itself a commodity. It’s bait. You are what’s being sold. And the suits at Sony and NBC didn’t roll up a truck full of money so that Dan Harmon could indulge his most off-putting fantasies; they expected him to deliver you and 10 million of your like-minded friends to the people who want you to buy hybrid cars and bassinets and Axe Body Spray.

A successful show can eventually become a product, but even then you are not the consumer. (DVD sales alone can’t support a network-quality sitcom.) When a series has enough episodes (usually around 100, but nowadays even 80-90 may be enough), it can be syndicated to a cable network or local broadcast station where it can once again be used to market suppositories and depilatories and station wagons. (I’ll wager that the only reason Community gained a fourth-season renewal is that it’s approaching the pearly gates of a syndicated afterlife.)

Make no mistake: some truly great television has been found at the intersection of art and business. At its best, commercial TV can be mass entertainment and still have something to say. But never forget that economics rule the day. You want television that doesn’t exist first and foremost to bundle up and market you? Well, my friend, I’ve got a channel for you. And it comes with a tote bag.

Update: Variety’s Andrew Wallerstein says something similar about Harmon’s ouster, and further details the unachieveable balancing act faced by the new showrunners.

 

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Rubber Soul

December 8th, 2011 No comments

Every once in a while, a television show comes along that is so bugfuck nuts that attention must be paid. And while it’s not as trippy as Twin Peaks or labyrinthine as Lost, FX’s American Horror Story is a ghoulishly weird treat.

Like The Walking Dead, American Horror Story (henceforth AHS) is an attempt to make an ongoing series out of a typically done-in-one horror trope. In this case, it’s the “troubled family moves into a haunted house” thing. I’m unsure how it can sustain itself over the long haul–a second season has been ordered–but it’s wacky enough that it just might work.

The usual complaint about haunted house stories is “why don’t they just move?” Indeed, the Internet asked that even before the pilot episode had aired. AHS gets away with it in part due to the real-life recession; it’s hard enough getting out of an underwater mortgage without the property in question being featured on a bus tour of infamous Los Angeles murder sites.

But the other reason that the Harmons haven’t skedaddled is that they haven’t yet realized that their home is haunted. One of the clever ideas here is that the ghosts are entirely corporeal. They can touch, be touched, kill and screw just like normal folks. Some are confused enough about their true nature that they pass as people who have wandered in off the street, while others are scheming and duplicitous.

The Murder House itself seems to operate as something of a spirit trap. Everyone who dies on its grounds winds up bound to the premises. Some make frequent appearances, others lurk in attic or crawlspace, and still others just seem to drop in from who-knows-where.

As I mentioned, the ghosts can themselves kill, and that means that the lost souls in the Harmon household are piling up. Offhand, I can think of at least twenty.

It’s becoming a sort of spiritual Upstairs Downstairs, a society of ghosts ranging from the Frankenstein baby that lives in the cellar to the maid who appears to women as a blind-in-one-eye old lady, and to men as a fetishistic sex doll. There’s also an emo spook boy who is strangely sympathetic despite being a mass murderer in each of his two lives.

The main not-dead characters may be dull–with the exception of Jessica Lange as the casually racist, homicidal next-door neighbor–but who cares when there’s an entire ectoplasmic ecosystem?

One way in that AHS is not Lost is that there’s not a long wait for answers. Two of the most burning questions already have been put to rest. We know the identity of the rubber suited figure (colloquially known as the “Rubber Man”) who somehow impregnated Vivian Harmon. And last night’s installment clarified the ghost/not-a-ghost status of one of the main cast. Neither of the answers were all that surprising, but honestly, I’m not going to complain about a mystery show that plays fair and provides its audience enough information to come to a correct solution.

Also, did I mention that the show is bugfuck nuts? Seriously. One episode featured both the Black Dahlia (adding her to the Murder House spook parade) and the Pope. And, in another of the show’s “did they just go there?” moments, told us that not only do the two babies growing inside Vivien have different fathers, but that one just might be the Antichrist. (Ooooo-eeeeeee!)

American Horror Story is gleefully ridiculous and oh-so-watchable. I don’t care so much where it’s going; I’m just enjoying the macabre buggy-ride.

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And Now For Something Completely Hypocritical

November 23rd, 2011 No comments

Okay, now that I’ve devoted the last couple of posts to demonstrating how it sometimes irks me when a TV series crawls up its own ass, I’m now going to praise a show for pretty much the same behavior.

Cartoon Network’s Batman: The Brave and the Bold saw its end coming and spent its final year indulging every lunatic whim of its creators. Here’s a sampling of what went down:

  • Homages to classic DC Comics stories featuring the Rainbow Batman, the Jungle Batman, the Mummy Batman, the Batman of the Future and the Batmen of All Nations.
  • Adaptations of the ’50s Mad parody “Bat Boy and Rubin” and of the infamous ’60s Japanese manga story featuring the villainous Lord Death Man.
  • Team-ups with the Haunted Tank, the G.I. Robot, the Creature Commandos, Bat-Ape, ‘Mazing Man, Space Ghost, Scooby-Doo, “Weird Al” Yankovic and Abraham Lincoln.
  • A sitcom called  “The Currys of Atlantis,” starring a singing Aquaman.
  • Oh, and Batman was turned into a baby. And a vampire. Not at the same time.

It’s what happened when a team of creative, nostalgic people collectively decided to say “fuck it, we’re not going to get this chance again.”

And I loved it.

The Brave and the Bold wrapped up its run last Friday in its own go-for-broke style. “Mitefall!” obliterated the fourth wall as Bat-Mite–a 5th Dimensional magical imp/uber Bat-fan–got bored with the series and did his best to have it cancelled in favor of a darker, grittier Bat-show. His tricks–including giving Batman both a cutesy daughter and a Neon Talking Super Street Bat-Luge, then recasting Aquaman with reputed show-killing actor Ted McGinley–succeeded in making the series suck. However, as he realized too late, its cancellation meant his own end.

It was “meta” to the Nth degree and, honestly, a bit much. Scriptwriter Paul Dini knocked down a whole row of straw men in the forms of grousing fanboys and indifferent network executives. I can’t speak to how Cartoon Network insiders felt about the show, but it was my understanding that the initial fan backlash to The Brave and the Bold‘s lighthearted approach largely evaporated once people realized how much Silver Age fun was to be had.

In any case, it didn’t seem as if the series was cancelled so much as it had reached its natural end. Sixty-five episodes is a standard number for an animated series, as that’s enough to “strip” repeats five days a week for 13 weeks. (The previous Batman cartoon also wrapped up after 65 installments.) And, as “Mitefall!” itself pointed out, shows like this are toy-driven. Judging by the diminishing assortment of new Brave and the Bold product on store shelves over the past year, it was clear that Mattel wanted to move on to another Bat-iteration.

False premises aside, “Mitefall!” was an enjoyable end to a fabulous series. And if any of you didn’t tear up during Batman’s final speech to the children, I don’t want to know you.

“And until we meet again, boys and girls, know that wherever evil lurks, in all its myriad forms, I’ll be there with the hammers of justice to fight for decency and defend the innocent. Good night.”

Good-bye.

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See? This Is The Sort Of Thing I Was Talking About

November 23rd, 2011 No comments

I mean, really. Here’s Community inserting a “watch this show obsessively or you’ll miss it” Easter egg reference to the movie Beetlejuice. The gag is that, as in the movie, Beetlejuice appears (watch the background) after his name is said three times. The “oh, I’m so surprised that this show is on hiatus” bit is that the three times are spread out across three seasons.

It’s impressive, but still…

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You Say “Smug” Like It’s A Bad Thing

November 16th, 2011 No comments

November 14, 2011: The Day the Internet Lost Its Collective Shit; aka The Day It Learned that Community Wasn’t on NBC’s Midseason Schedule.

Community, currently in its third season, stars Joel McHale as a smug lawyer whose lack of a legitimate degree sends him to community college, where he becomes the de facto leader of a misfit study group. It’s a good show. Sometimes it’s even a great show. But it’s also a prime example of television that’s too clever for it’s own sake.

Its first breakout character was Abed, a pop culture-immersed twentysomething with what appears to be 21st Century TV’s favored disorder, Undeclared Asperger’s Syndrome. Reportedly, Community creator Dan Harmon has a fair amount in common with his fictional mouthpiece, and that may be why the show has had such difficulty connecting with a mass audience.

Because Community is a show that dares you to enjoy it. It says, “You tune in at 8:00 pm Eastern/7:00 pm Central looking for easy laughs? Fie! We will give you multi-layered meta commentary punctuated by uncomfortable moments and populated by emotionally-damaged and occasionally unlikable characters!”

I’ll give you a couple of examples, both from the show’s sophomore year. In “Mixology Certification,” the group convened at a bar to celebrate the 21st birthday of their friend Troy, only to fall into alcohol-laced melancholy. While it worked as an encapsulation of what it was like for me in my early twenties–feeling alone in a room full of friends–it was difficult to watch. Later that season came another birthday episode, “Critical Film Studies,” a demonstration of the series’ self-indulgence. What began as a Pulp Fiction tribute morphed into an extended riff on My Dinner with Andre, a 1981 indie film that even Community‘s hipster audience probably never has seen.

That Community has lasted this long is testament to the floundering of NBC, whose inability to spawn hits has had the not-unwelcome side-effect of encouraging them to stick with low-rated critical darlings such as 30 Rock and (my current favorite) Parks and Recreation.

To be clear, I never miss an episode of Community. I love the ensemble cast. (Even Chevy Chase.) Alison Brie is my girlfriend. (Yeah, right.) And I can appreciate a zombie-themed episode as much as the next AV Club reader.

But my main beef with it is that it’s too in love with its high-concept installments. Lots of TV series have produced format-breaking episodes–think M*A*S*H‘s war documentary or Buffy‘s musical theater–but what made those notable was their deviance from a well-established baseline. Community doesn’t have that. When you tune in, you don’t know what you’re going to get. They’re stop-motion animated! They’re simultaneously existing in seven parallel realities! They’re aboard a Kentucky Fried Chicken-sponsored space shuttle! (All actual episodes.)

Really, it should be no surprise to anyone that Community is taking a little lie down. But don’t despair, it will most likely go on for at least another season. The same economics that kept it around this long should sustain it until it reaches the magic number of episodes required for syndication. (Sony has already been taking out sales ads in broadcasting trade publications.)

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