The past three months have been a roller coaster ride for fans of NBC's cult comedy series, Community. First, the show finally returned to the television airwaves after an extended hiatus. Thereafter, it managed to snag a shortened fourth season, even after the series' producers made preparations for season three to be its last.
However, reports are in that NBC has elected to not bring back creator Dan Harmon as showrunner on the fourth (and final?) season of Community, opting to instead have him serve as a "consulting producer." According to Harmon, that claim exaggerates how much actual input he'll have on the show from here-on out.
In the report from THR, NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt is quoted as having previously said he expects "Dan's voice" to continue being a part of Community throughout its truncated fourth season. However, now that NBC has tapped David Guarascio and Moses Port - former co-showrunners on Just Shoot Me!, creators of the short-lived Aliens in America, and consulting producers on Happy Endings - it seems that Harmon's involvement will be minimal to non-existent, at most.
Harmon has issued a public response on his Tumblr account (called "Dan Harmon Poops" - no joke). Here is an excerpt from his statement:
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.
Community fans in particular should definitely read the entirety of Harmon's statement - it's a fun mix of NSFW humor that's more self-deprecatory than accusatory, overall - but the above segment outlines the situation pretty well: Harmon doesn't anticipate having much (if any) influence on Community from this point forward.
Coming from an admitted Community fan: the show's third season had its weak spots, for sure, but overall it was a solid season for the series that boasted what are bound to go down (or already have) as some of its most memorable episodes - including, the Hugo award-nominated "Remedial Chaos Theory", "Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps", and "Basic Lupine Urology", among others. Not to mention, the season finale nicely wrapped up some loose plot threads left dangling from not only earlier in season three, but also previous seasons.
That's all to say: Harmon's departure will come as disappointing news for many Community lovers - but not all, of course. Still, despite issues like the show's rough start, following the mid-season three hiatus - or the much-publicized spat between Chevy Chase and Dan Harmon - Community, under Harmon's watch, has continued to satisfy a major chunk of the fanbase.
Of course, the majority of the Community creative team (staff writers, producers) remain onboard, to help ensure that season four maintains a tonal continuity with past seasons - not to mention, the main cast remains intact (and lovable as ever). Maybe adding some new blood will actually benefit the show - ?
More on the future of Community as the story develops.