I need help reacting to something.
That quote has probably been used in countless related articles about Dan Harmon’s return for the 5th season of Community, but it’s probably the most apt quote to go along with news that has came out of nowhere.
For the last two years there has not been a more tortured fan base than that of the “human beings” who have watched the shenanigans of the “Greendale Seven” on the NBC comedy “Community” since its inception in 2009 (I started watching in 2010).
The end of season three saw fans clinging to hope they would receive a fourth season and the chance to see Jeff Winger receive his college degree in order for him to continue his law practice. Well, we got it. Then the End Times came and Dan Harmon was fired from the series by Sony for his abrasive work relationship and the show was left in the hands of David Guarascio and Moses Port, who were show runners on the 1997-2003 sitcom “Just Shoot Me” (and I never heard their named mentioned in any media again after the initial announcement).
Needless to say (it’s been beaten to death) “Community’s” fourth season wasn’t the same. While it was in the writing hands of Megan Ganz and Andy Bobrow who have been responsible for some of the most memorable episodes of the series (“Cooperative Calligraphy” and “Mixology Certification” respectively), the fourth season was a good, yet lacking the needed polish to keep Dan Harmon’s vision alive.
While there were stand out episodes from this past season, with my personal favorites being “Herstory of Dance” and the Halloween episode “Paranormal Parentage,” most of it fell in the category of either “close, but no cigar,” or “trying too hard” (I’m talking about you “History 101” and “Advanced Introduction to Finality.”
After the season finale, there was another wait for whether or not the show would continue. It was finally picked up for another 13-episode, mid-season placement. Then came the news (which Sony hasn’t confirmed) that Dan Harmon announced on his “Harmontown” podcast, then on Twitter that he would be returning for the shows fifth season.
I’m both ecstatic and disappointed Sony has realized their mistake in firing of Harmon (can you imagine how awkward that phone-call/meeting/email was?). The writing staff on “Community” was in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation with season four. The specter of Harmon was hanging over the entire season and our expectations were too high to really appreciate it. I thought with the fifth season pick-up, the show would be able to move beyond the Harmon era and find its own identity. There was no guarantee the quality of the show would have improved, but our expectations would have been more properly adjusted.
Now, with the return of Harmon, our expectations for brilliance and laugh out loud storylines are right back to where they were at during the height of the third season.
I have no idea where Harmon will want to take the show’s narrative. He was robbed being able to tell the conclusion to the story of Jeff getting his degree, which was completely rushed in the season 4 finale.
There’s been speculation Harmon will completely undue the fourth season in the meta-fashion for which he has become renowned for. I don’t believe this will be the case. I think Harmon will respect both the writers and the audience and go off what he’s been given, while making fun of it endlessly.
Will it be a return to the greatness of season 1 – 3? We won’t know until next winter. I do believe having the original voice of the show’s characters will benefit the writing, but whether the episode-to-episode consistency we associate with Harmon will return is still up in the air.
While I am cautiously optimistic for Harmon’s return, it’s refreshing and streets ahead to see studio executives acknowledge their own mistake and own up to it.
So what do you think about the return of Dan Harmon? Let me know in the comments.