So while we were all off having a nice weekend (longer for some of us than others here in Chicago; thanks, NATO!), NBC and Sony essentially used Michael Scott from The Office’s filing system to let us know that Dan Harmon would not return as Community showrunner.
But alas for them, it’s 2012, and even a press release tossed into a dumpster at 6:30 p.m. on a summer Friday is going to see the light of day.
Predictably, given Community’s rabid and irritable fan base, the news of Harmon’s ouster did not go well, particularly once Harmon revealed Sony had never even contacted him to discuss contract renewal. From a public relations perspective, NBC and Sony couldn’t have handled this worse. They raised the Community community’s hopes by renewing the show, then crushed them by firing the guy responsible for the show’s voice.
The situation’s been well covered, from Alan Sepinwall analyzing how other shows have fared after the departure of a powerful showrunner to Tim Goodman spotlighting the stupidity of NBC. I certainly agree with the consensus (or at least the consensus among Community fans and critics I respect): booting Harmon is an imbecilic move that will alienate a sizable chunk of the show’s devoted viewers and rob the series of its uniqueness and soul.
But I’m also interested in what this means for network television as an ongoing concern.