In 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.