Thursday, May 24, 2012

Community Parts Ways with Dan Harmon

Community Troy and Abed MugIn the midst of a strange last few months of delayed shows, public voicemail rants from stars of past and present, and mediocre ratings despite a loyal following, the production studios run by Sony decided to give Community’s show runner the old heave-ho. Citing complaints of difficulty getting their point of monetary success across to Mr. Harmon, Sony expressed interest in squeezing a couple more years out of the show and hopefully making their money back on syndication – something many mildly successful shows do to get back into the black.

Apparently Dan Harmon was not delivering the show in a timely and cheaply manor, suggesting that his job description was not being fulfilled. Mr. Harmon’s argument falls on quality, that he needed the resources to make the show as good as it could be, and if you’ve ever watched the show you know that some episodes are downright brilliant, and warrant the ratings that Sony and NBC so desperately needed. The plight of Arrested Development comes to mind when FOX parted ways with the award-winning show. For sake of argument, I think there is a similar issue going on here, but in no way am I comparing the quality of the shows. Although, perhaps if Dan Harmon was given what he needed, maybe the show’s potential had a chance to reach levels of Arrested Development. We may never know.

In fact, looking at the results of the show, the two are not that dissimilar. In between seasons of subpar ratings, Community has been on the ballot for lesser-caliber awards multiple years. The quality is not going unnoticed, and if you talk to fans of the show, there is a serious following that at one time or another have deemed the show the funniest on TV.

So what is the responsibility of the show runner with a show like Community? Is it to create a solid fan base and aim for money-making in syndication? No, not really, but considering how hard the job actually is, maybe that is a victory. However, there did seem to always be something missing with Community that was holding it back from its true potential. The bottom line is, Sony believed Dan Harmon was the issue, and Dan Harmon believed the studio was the issue. Time may tell the story, or no difference in the show will be seen and we will never know what was right. However, when loyalty is at stake, I think Sony may have jumped the gun. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Four SNL Characters We’d Like to See Return

Saturday Night Live (season 10)

While many of the characters that are presented on Saturday Night Live over the last 35 or so years have been flops, it’s the memorable ones that keep the viewers coming back for more. Many of these characters are played by some of the best actors ever to grace the SNL stage and they go off to make movies based on that character while others just live on in our memories from the SNL episode. Here are a few of those popular characters that we’d love to see come back  for at least one last performance.

Harry Caray
With all of the memorable characters that Will Ferrell has played, few are as popular as Harry Caray, the iconic announcer for the Chicago Cubs. Ferrell’s over the top performance of Cary’s bobblehead-like disposition, messed up hair, huge black-rimmed glasses  and weird phrases (“If you were a hot dog, would you eat yourself?”) mustered up huge laughs when he would make an appearance on Weekend Update. 

The Spartan Spirit Cheerleaders
If you knew that the names of these two characters (played by Will Ferrell and Cheri Oteri) were Craig and Ariana, you are a hardcore fan of SNL. These two always knew how to “bring it” when their team needed the perfect cheer. Surprisingly, there was no movie made based on these two characters, but that doesn’t diminish their popularity or their hilarity.

Matt Foley
It would be impossible to recreate the genius that Chris Farley brought to the SNL stage so brining this character back is nothing more than a dream. But Matt Foley, who lives “in a van down by the river,” is possibly one of the funniest characters every. It was always funny to watch the other actors lose it when he did his comedic screaming as he taught teenagers important life lessons while destroying the living room furniture in their house.

Debbie Downer
One of the reasons this character, played by Rachel Dratch, is so funny is because most of us know someone who is like this. They always have a way to bring down the party or give a buzzkill to a group that is having a good time. Debbie Downer embodied that idea and she always did it in a depressingly hilarious way.

Phil Donahue
As an honorable mention, I just wanted to include Darrell Hammond on this list. He does the best impression of Phil Donahue that I’ve ever seen and it would be great to see him do “The Hue” at least one more time.

What popular Saturday Night Live character would you like to see make at least one last appearance?