Why We Need "Community" Now: Pop Culture Homages Dan Harmon And Co. Haven't Gotten To Yet
As we are all more than aware at this point, Thursday, December 8, 2011, is the last scheduled episode of the cult hit, Internet (and especially Pajiba) favorite NBC sitcom "Community." It seems both highly appropriate and highly ironic that the episode is going to be Christmas themed -- any episode of "Community" is a gift, and if (big IF) this is the last one to ever see broadcast, there aren't many shows that do the holiday better. Both previous outings have been hilarious and sweet without undercutting the sentiment, or being too saccharine. But, man, way to spice up the bitter in that bittersweet concoction, NBC. Still, the cast, crew and many television insiders/bloggers/reporters are confident the show will return sometime in 2012, probably in March, or perhaps during the summer, and assuredly before the Mayan Apocalypse next December.
But, really, it would be best if we didn't have to wait for the show's return at all beyond the standard Winter hiatus. When the new year baby emerges from old man Winter's womb, I, for one, will no longer have any reason to tune in to NBC if "Community" is off the airwaves. Oh, sure, I'll still keep up with "Parks and Rec" on Hulu (not NBC.com, because their video player is the AT&T of streaming video players), and I would have caught up with "Up All Night" had it still taken over the timeslot currently held by "Whitney." But, I've basically given up on "The Office" and I gave up on "30 Rock" last year. Without "Community" on Thursdays NBC is basically non-existent to me.
Which is a shame, because NBC used to be my favorite network growing up, and even well into my adulthood. I'm not necessarily angry with them (it's a business, after all, and I've become jaded after being burned so many times before), there's simply nothing left for me there anymore. But with "Community" on the schedule, I'd put up with almost anything they have to offer around it. The show speaks to me and my sensibilities more than almost any other show I've ever watched -- save for the first 8 or so seasons of "The Simpsons," of course. Those two programs share a lot of the same creative DNA, riffing and referencing and outright parodying the pop culture that came before them and currently surrounds them. It's possible I only love "Community" as much as I do because I also loved "The Simpsons" in the before-time, the long, long ago. But unlike "The Simpsons", which has exhausted itself and is now exhausting to watch, "Community" may just be hitting its stride right now. There are still so many more stories to tell about Jeff, Annie, Britta, Troy & Abed, Pierce, the Dean, Chang, and the whole Greendale, well, community. Not only that, but there are tons more pop culture touchstones that the show has barely grazed, some they've yet to even glance at. And until the writers, and especially creator Dan Harmon, have exhausted all possibilities, we (or, I, anyway) still need this show to be on the air.
So, without further ado, here are 7 Pop Culture Icons "Community" Still Needs To Do Before It Finally Ends. I'm not saying they need to be full-on, total episode, Apollo 13-esque parodies, just that there's got to be some way the movies/television shows below can fit into the world the show has already created. If they can do actual zombies, My Dinner with Andre, and Batman twice, why not these? And please, add your own suggestions for icons that ripe for riffing in the comments below!
Back To The Future (with Pierce as Doc Brown, Troy as Marty McFly)
Jackie Brown (with Shirley as Jackie Brown)
Jurassic Park (with Jeff as Dr. Ian Malcolm)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (with Dean Pelton as the T-1000)
The Princess Bride (with Chang as Vizzini, Britta as Princess Buttercup)
The X-Files (with Annie as Scully, Abed as Mulder)
Rob Payne also writes the indie comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter @RobOfWar, and his ware can be purchased here. He admits that some of these were much harder to put together than he had anticipated, and he apologizes for any excessive Photoshop wonkiness.