Fighter Jets and the Mad Hatter Theory: How NBC's "Community" Died
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Fighter Jets and the Mad Hatter Theory: How NBC's "Community" Died

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | TV Reviews | April 18, 2013 | Comments ()


As the second song swelled into idiocy, I turned off "Community" forever. I turned on "Modern Family." Modern Fucking Family. Are you happy NBC? Are you entertained? Do you see what I've stooped to? I would rather watch the lazy rote affair of standard family sitcom comedy while I cut vegetables than suffer through what I probably considered the best comedy on television a year ago. I almost turned on "Two and a Half Men" just out spite. That's how bad "Community" is at this point.

A comment I see tossed around a lot is the speculation: would you really know the difference, if you didn't know that Harmon was gone? If these episodes were dropped in the middle of other seasons, would you really notice? Yes. In the same way that I would dislike the taste of a shit sandwich on its own merits and not just because I'm biased because the originating anus belonged to a dog that bit me.

I wrote an article a year ago in the wake of the firing of Dan Harmon about the moral wrongness of taking the show away from him. That the guy at the center was effectively the author, and to take it away from him was simply wrong, regardless of whether he deserved to keep his job, or what the legal niceties of ownership were. It was Harmon's creation. It should not have continued without him. It was not conceptually any different to me than taking A Song of Ice and Fire away from George RR Martin and handing it off to a different author.

There were a lot of comments on the article, and other articles written, that television series are collaborative efforts. That while Harmon may have conceived of the Greendale Six, those actors play some role in creating who those characters end up being. Not to mention the miscellaneous list of creative contributors: the costume designers, composers, set designers, and an entire myriad of others who I leave off simply because of my sheer ignorance of how television shows work under the hood. This is true I will concede, but only up to a point.

What we're seeing in this season of "Community" is how much of a difference removing the creative spark at the center of an enterprise can make. Some shows can get by. I bailed on "West Wing" after Sorkin's departure for exactly these reasons. The characters were no longer the same characters. They looked the same, talked the same, but somehow were only puppets of who they had been a few months earlier on the other side of a cliff hanger. Taking Sorkin's fire out of that furnace left it a shell of its previous self. But even so, that show survived in its diminished form because it had a more solid base that could maintain some semblance of stability. It could carry on the facsimile on the strength of a fantastic cast and writers scrambling to get up to speed.

"Community" is a different beast because what made it great was the fact that it teetered on the very edge of being a disaster even when it was clicking on all cylinders. A show that takes place in an 8-bit video game should not work. A show that revolves entirely around a paint ball war should not work. A show that takes place entirely in a fake 1980s space simulator should not work. A zombie apocalypse at the community college Halloween party should not work. Not to mention the fact that a single show with all of these elements and others equally absurd should not work in the slightest.

It reminds me of descriptions I've read about an F-16, of all things. A normal airplane has basic properties of aerodynamics that allow it to glide to some degree if the controls and engine die. An F-16 cannot. It exists in a state of constant disequilibrium, maintained by minute and constant adjustments to the thrust and pitch and yaw and other airplane things I don't understand, all overseen by the flight computers. If the computer dies, the plane loses all semblance of level flight. That's the price that particular aircraft pays for being so far on the other side of the envelope.

"Community" was the F-16 of television shows. It flew so well exactly because it was at all times on the edge of spinning catastrophically out of control. This takes nothing away from the actors or other creative contributors to the show, any more than the fact that an F-16 being unable to fly without its computer is saying that the pilot doesn't matter.

And so what we see now is a series in which the same or similar notes are played over and over again in a desperate attempt to recapture the Harmon equilibrium. Let's throw songs at it! And puppets are nutty! Shirley say something Christian! Abed say something pop cultural! Gimmicks for the Dean! What these showrunners don't see is that when a series is built on sustaining an unstable equilibrium, then new ideas are constantly needed, new inputs to stay one step ahead of the detonation of the show. The old ideas will never work. The old refrain that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results? Well in a television series built on insanity, the inversion of that rule applies: doing the same thing will never yield the same results again. Call it the Mad Hatter principle of insanely brilliant television.

Steven Lloyd Wilson is a hopeless romantic and the last scion of Norse warriors and the forbidden elder gods. His novel, ramblings, and assorted fictions coalesce at You can email him here and order his novel here.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Sean Brodrick

    I'll have to take the counterside of this argument -- I still like the show and I liked the Puppet episode. It's still enjoyable. I'm reading comments from people who are acting like the show runners are rewriting the Declaration of Independence. It's a f*cking TV show, and it's supposed to be funny. It might not be the perfect show you remember in your minds, but perfection is hard to maintain in a dynamic system. It's still a lot better than a lot of other crap that's out there. The only comment I agree with here is that Chevy Chase is talking like he's had a stroke. I don't know if he's A) had a stroke or B) there's some other reason, maybe some plot development that will be revealed later. Maybe they're setting us up for his death, which would be a great way to end the series.

  • jib

    Too much Abed. Too much Dean. Can't stand the show any longer. Wherever he is, Harmon is having the last laugh...

  • The Pink Hulk

    Lighten up, people. It's Community college. Unless you're from my hometown, it isn't SUPPOSED to last forever.

  • AsdffAnon

    Ahhh, I love Modern Family. I too once liked Community, but I still adore Modern Family.

  • Kenny G.

    I agree, the show isn't as good as it was...kind of like TWIN PEAKS was after David Lynch stepped aside. But, I'll still watch it with the hope that somebody on the writing staff can breathe life back into it.

    I loved the "laugh track" at the beginning of the first show this season. I thought it was done to play a joke on all of the Community fans who just knew the show would be different after Harmon left.

  • brian

    He didn't even finish watching the whole episode

    He admitted it

    His opinion is invalid

  • brian

    He didn't even finish watching the episode

  • Pronk

    Harmon was an ass, and got sacked like he should have. It sucks, because obviously community suffers, but chalk that up to "you need to tolerate your coworkers"

  • wojtek

    This is just incredibly well written.

  • aquillia

    My younger brother and I watch Community together every week, and we don't laugh as much as we used to. (We did laugh at the puppet episode, although we realized it was trying too hard). However, none of these episodes in this new season come close to the sheer awfulness of the Art of Discourse... so, there's that, at least. (Don't even try to argue that that episode isn't the absolute worst. I cringe even just thinking about it.) And the Changnesia arc isn't as bad as I expected, because most of the time Chang isn't even in the show. Definite win.

  • Salad_Is_Murder

    So community is a sonic the hedgehog sequel now? Got it, makes perfect sense.

  • LwoodPDowd

    I keep watching because I get the feeling it is a season long "Not without my anus!" and that at the end of the season we will get the punchline. They seem to have gone out of their way to make every fear of community fanatics come true. It fits so well with the predictions that I would almost guess that Dan Harmon was aware of (and was friends with) the people who would be taking over and rather than doing what Sorkin did by putting the show on a course guaranteed to take the show at least temporarily off the rails, made a bargain with them to give the execs exactly what the wanted in the worst possible way.

    What i really love is that now we need to view Chevy as not some ridiculous asshole who was impossible to work with, but rather the only person from the show with any sense of integrity.

  • bear9

    I atill say the puppet ep was interewsting but only because I saw the Jason Alexander part as a commentary on Harmon

  • Maxx

    Steven Lloyd Wilson I have never heard of you before but thank you for articulating this. The F-16 metaphor is absolutely spot-on.

    Community season 4 is like your best friend is violently and brutally murdered and it's all over the news, and all of your friends are devastated and heartbroken and just as they're beginning to finish mourning, a really really fucking weird guy shows up, and this weird guy has studied your best friend, knows all of his mannerisms, facial expressions, movements, likes, dislikes, but instead of being your friend, he's just dug up your best friend's body, taken a knife and sliced only his face off, and then used bright red duct tape to tape your best friend's face to his, and is acting as if, somehow, that makes him the same person.

  • Guest

    Steven Lloyd Wilson I have never heard of you before but thank you for articulating this. The F-16 metaphor is absolutely spot-on.

    Community season 4 is like your best friend is violently and brutally murdered and it's all over the news, and all of your friends are devastated and heartbroken and just as they're beginning to finish mourning, a really really fucking weird guy shows up, and this weird guy has studied your best friend, knows all of his mannerisms, facial expressions, movements, likes, dislikes, but instead of being your friend, he's just dug up your best friend's body, taken a knife and sliced only his face off, and then used bright red duct tape to tape your best friend's face to his, and is acting as if, somehow, that makes him the same person.

  • John G.

    I totally agree, Steven. Community is definitely different now, but I think something was also missing in the last Harmon season too. Now, though, it's nothing but YouSeeTimmy's all day long.

    To me, it's never gotten better than Critical Film Studies in Season 02. No one on Earth but Dan Harmon could get away with making a My Dinner With Andre episode of their sitcom. That episode was incredible, not just for the references, but for the fourth dimensional character work going on with Abed.

  • It sucks and it's been up against much funnier shows.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    I didn't even make it through the first episode this season.

  • Buck Forty

    I'm currently watching reruns of the early series' stored on my PVR. It was so much better then compared to what it has become, the comparisons are startling. I wonder too if your arguments vis a vis Harmon should also be applied to movie sequels?
    Oh that's right, we already kinda know they'll suck once the original director has gone.

  • Lauren_Lauren

    Jeff's hair was suddenly HORRIBLE, and no one mentioned it. That's not Community at all.

  • mike

    They did make a joke about it
    He himself made a joke about it

  • Lauren_Lauren

    You mean when Jason Alexander showed up? I think that was supposed to be a reference to Joel McHale's hair transplant.

  • Lauren_Lauren

    In fact, Old Jeff would not even have come to school with that hair. He would have stayed at home, crying into his Gucci suits and breaking all his mirrors, and the episode would have revolved around the gang getting together to convince him that appearances aren't everything.

  • foolsage

    Good catch; the hair really bothered me as well. Not a single character made a single joke or comment about it. WTF?

  • Jill

    Last sentence, second paragraph: perfection.

  • brian

    you are also an idiot

  • alex

    I reread this article twice.

    There was no description of the plot, no analysis of the characters

    No comparisons between other episodes

    There was nothing of substance in this article

    Saying something sucks does not make it suck

    This site is usually better than that

  • foolsage

    This isn't an episode review; it's a post-mortem for the series.

  • Donna SHerman

    Oh, SLW. Always a pleasure, even if the topic is depressing as fuck.

  • brian

    To the guy who wrote this
    Fuck you
    To the people buying his crap
    Fuck you too

  • foolsage

    Why so serious?

  • abell

    Re F16's, below 180kts the F16 has the flight path of a brick. Over that, it's amazing, but, there is no tolerance in that design.

  • "...I would dislike the taste of a shit sandwich on its own merits and not just because I’m biased because the originating anus belonged to a dog that bit me."

    This is probably the angriest thing you've ever written. I love it. More anger, please.

  • James

    Community isn't dead, people are just now seeing the faults that have been masked by it trying to hit homeruns but often missing.

    Most of season 3 was really bad or way too insider friendly and off putting to new viewers. Jeff Winger has been hugely inconsistent in his portrayal with the group. One moment he can't live without them and the next he actively excludes them from his life, most prominent with Pierce.

  • Mr.Rabbit

    I wish I could get a dollar for every time Dan Harmon's name is used. He's gone, get over it.

  • yocean14

    I checked out after third episode because I could not stand Community sounding like Happy Ending (not that I don't love that show but it is not a same show, and those show runners are not Dan harmon) and keep trying to revive the dead schtick horse by shoving it in its ass, repeatedly. Ughh.

  • I think the meta has gotten too meta. They're pointing out too many of the pop culture references. I mean, the paintball episode was post-apocalyptic and they just went for it. Jeff pointing out the absuridity of it after he woke up fit well into the usual "new guy in a new situation" role of most sci-fi/futuristic films. It fit with the genre. They didn't need to be all, "What, is this a John Woo movie all of a sudden?" when Chang came in with the automatic paintball gun. The joke is that it's happening at a community college.

    Now they point out every reference as they go which makes the overall parody not work. You don't need to overexplain the joke. I get it.

  • Popeyesnopes

    Your argument shows that Community was always bound to slide in quality, with or without Harmon. The man isn't a genius for fuck's sake! Look at his record: nothing good but Community, which wasn't even always good. So much of it was more creative than it was funny. I prefer funny. Seeing the third season and then re-watching the first season shows the decline in wit. The characters had already lost it. By last season every character but Jeff, Abed, and Annie had become a caricature.
    It's just a goddamn sitcom. One that had some great episodes, but nowhere near as many good ones as The Simpsons, Parks and Recreation, Peep Show, or even King of the Hill.

  • Robert

    At a young age (far too young to be watching the show), I was able to tell which episodes of Married with Children were directed by Amanda Bearse. Even if the teleplays were inline with the rest of the series, her episodes were always filled with over the top slapstick and broad reaction shots. You could tell there was a difference.

    The director of a show makes a difference. Dan Harmon, as a showrunner, insisted on a certain style and tone in Community. When he was in charge, the show felt like Community whether the cast was animated, exploring the darkest timeline, or parodying an obscure film.

    Without Harmon, it's a grab bag of random styles and arbitrary character traits. There is no consistency from week to week. The Halloween episode felt like a completely different show than the Hunger Games episode which felt like two completely different shows compared to the Inspector SpaceTime Convention episode. That's when I checked out. None of those new shows were Community even if the name was the same.

  • Milly

    By knowing that the creator and a number of writers have left, it does not allow you to make an impartial judgement on such qualitative things such as comedy, enjoyment and the 'feel' of a program.

    And let's not forget that there were some truly shite episodes in the previous seasons (though I enjoyed the Abed as jesus as film maker as jesus as film maker episode).

  • foolsage

    I'm unclear what you're trying to say there. Are you arguing that Steven, as a critic on a website largely centering around criticism, is somehow not qualified to critique this show? That's a bit absurd.

    Are you suggesting that Steven's knowledge that the showrunner has left somehow disqualifies him from holding an opinion? That's considerably more absurd than the above.

    You seem to mostly just want to disagree about the changes in the show, which is fair and reasonable. However, your desire to argue doesn't somehow invalidate Steven's views; he's still entitled to his opinions.

  • Milly

    Absurd is a bit much, no? If it was presented as opinion rather than empirical fact - without the evidence - then that would be fine. But there is confirmation bias from knowing that things have changed. You cannot objectively conclude that the program is better/worse because of that.

    Let someone who has never watched Community, or not watched it religiously, review a sample of episodes from each of the series and see if they notice a change.

    Coincidentally, and slightly off-track, I recently lent my boxset of The West Wing to my parents and my Dad said that the 5th series felt unlike those that went before. I had not noticed it, even with knowing the change behind the scenes, or maybe I did not wish to acknowledge it, but he picked up on it right away without knowing there had been any producing/writing changes.

  • foolsage

    "You cannot objectively conclude that the program is better/worse because of [the departure of showrunner Dan Harmon]."

    Why not? We have evidence for and against, and we can formulate arguments based on the evidence. What makes this show immune to examination?

    Yes, confirmation bias is possible. But then that can go in several directions, and you focus only on one: confirmation bias MUST impel everyone to be critical of the new season, because we know Dan Harmon left. But then confirmation bias can also impel us to tolerate and even defend the new season, because all our beloved stars and characters remain. And someone who's conscious of the risk of confirmation bias can also try to avoid it by seeking objectivity.

    Your suggestion that someone who doesn't know the show well ought to be the best judge is really odd. That makes little sense; generally ignorance isn't the firmest of foundations on which to rest arguments. Just saying.

    The show has changed in objectively measurable ways, in my view and in the view of others. That's arguable, certainly, but I think there's a fair amount of evidence to support the claims of change; I've expressed several such elsewhere in the comments to this article and won't repeat them here.

    Whether the change is for the better or worse is also arguable, certainly. I can see how some fans might prefer the new direction, and they have a right to that opinion. I'm not among them; I find the show considerably less enjoyable now than ever before. There have been some good lines well delivered but the episodes largely disappoint.

    I'd appreciate if you don't try to marginalize my opinion by accusing me of bias without evidence, as you did to Steven. :D

  • bobby

    He didn't even support his opinions

  • semiotheque

    Exhibit: the cold open of episode 3 of this season. Troy and Britta are in bed together in Troy & Abed & Annie's apartment (where? we'd established before that there were 2 bedrooms: Annie's bedroom & the Dreamatorium, & that Troy & Abed shared the blanket room. No matter, let's keep moving.) Because they think Abed doesn't know they are sleeping together, Britta has to perform an elaborate fire-escape set-piece in order to show up at the door so Abed can let her in under the pretense she's brought over donuts.

    Abed says, "I've known all along you were sleeping together. I just like donuts."

    Now, Abed's been a jerk before. We've seen that. But in all previous cases of Abed being a jerk, he's been a jerk because he's weird. He's Abed. He can't understand other people's social cues or empathize. That's made him a jerk sometimes.

    But this time, he's doing the opposite. He's being weird because he's a jerk. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the character.

    It wasn't especially a funny bit, but I can take not funny. But more than that, it didn't arise out of the character. And that's what the show feels like now.

  • foolsage

    That cold open really bugged me. Gillian Jacobs is gorgeous, and she looks better this season than ever before in my opinion. However, it was patently obvious that the producers were pandering to the prurient by showing extended cuts of Britta in her underwear. I really don't like pandering.

  • prurient - Good word.

  • Keith M

    In the last episode of season 3, the dreamatorium was taken done and Troy moved in there.

  • semiotheque

    Now you mention it, I have a vague memory of that. Thanks!

  • lets_brunch_out

    Old Community had meta-humour. New Community has awkward, recycled one-liners. I used to watch episodes of season 1 - 3 over and over. Season 4, meh, couldn't be bothered. It always amazes me how (seemingly) brilliant actors fold without a good script. I thought Community would be able to survive post-Harmon just because of the talented cast but at this point in the show's life "the Greendale Seven" cannot be more annoying. It's one of the saddest things ever to happen to good television.

  • foolsage

    I've been deeply disappointed in the new season of Community. They've been trying far too hard to make all of the characters more likable, which really isn't necessary or helpful. I miss the messed-up Jeff who wasn't so self-conscious about being a jerk. For that matter, Pierce and Jeff are far too much alike now; the group worked better when Jeff and Pierce were antagonists for the group with very different personal issues driving their maladaptive behavior.

    Jeff hasn't had one good wrap up speech this season, and that used to be what tied the episodes together. There have been a few funny moments and a few touching moments (but far more forced moments that were meant to be touching) but it's clear that the show has lost its heart.

    Chang-nesia was funny for about five seconds. As a season-long arc, it's pathetic.

  • HATE the whole Changesia storyline. It needs to die.

  • Bert_McGurt

    I'm still watching, but it just feels empty now. It's like going to a game when your team's already out of the playoffs. You're there out of a sense of loyalty and because you love the players, but you'd really rather be watching something else.

  • GDI

    Now, the new Community is going for broke and wearing its heart on its sleeve. That wouldn't be a problem if it wasn't so blatant about it. This new, overly saccharine version gets a bit too sweet. They've always had this problem, like in the episode were Troy turns 21. But the dial has been turned up way too high, very unhealthy for human consumption.

    I must admit that I didn't wholly enjoy any of the seasons as I much as I did season 1. Season 2 became a shit show in the middle 3rd that had everything to do with the direct copying of an Arrested Development episode for the Conspiracy Theories episode, and Season 3 started kinda weak.
    The zany episodes had always bothered me the most, as they felt like
    placeholders and filler. Absolutely detrimental to character development
    (although the Glee one was surprisingly good, if not only for the dark
    revelation towards the end).

    So this feeling that this show has barely "fallen off"? I felt that years earlier, in small waves.
    It was never as good as AD in any respect. Not that I thought they
    should be directly compared (even with the involvement of the Russo
    Brothers in both shows). It just never reached that critical point to
    which it could (or should) be considered great. That is a damn shame. It had the potential.

    Now Parks and Rec? It's sort of the inverse to Community; started off
    rocky, built its way up to becoming the champion. That is the darling
    that I hope can maintain the throne up to the series finale.

  • I hate being trapped in this, the darkest of timelines. Can we all just portal out now?

  • Toby the Pizza Guy

    Wait, there are other timelines?

  • IngridToday

    Old Community was great at taking ridiculous geeky ideas (paintball, video game, etc) and have a lot of love and fun exploring them. New Community (aside from the Inspector Spaceman episode) is just doing crazy things. Let's have puppets! Who sing terrible songs! Why, why why?

    Shirley's revolution she abandoned her very young kids at a grocery store to chase down someone who wasn't her husband was horrible. No one else's secret remotely compared.

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    The puppets are a perfect analogy whether the writers knew it or not. At this point, it's just somebody cramming their hand up the characters ass and making their gums flap. I desperately wan't someone to save this show. My kids wear Inspector Spacetime t-shirts for fuck's sake!

  • TherecanbeonlyoneAdmin

    Sweet Mother of Sriracha Jerky Jesus! I just realized that Jeff Dunham may be running the show!

  • Ted Zancha

    Dear Lord I just died a little inside. Because it makes so much sense...

  • mairimba

    I thought they were poking fun at what the show has become in last week's episode. Telling their story through puppets because that's basically what they've become. And Troy and Abed's Bingo game of whenever the group says something typical they get a point, cause they pretty much have been repeating the same lines in every episode.

  • The Lost Fan

    When I saw this article, I first had to grab a glass of water and a little walk before reading it because I knew I would agree with every word. And I did. This season of Community is such a sham and it's so depressing to see these characters on screen spewing out words that sound like they would say but not really and getting into hijinks that seem like the norm but are not. Shame on you NBC for ruining one of the best network comedies.

    And screw Modern Family and Two and a Half Men, why those two shows get awards or make as much money as they do is beyond me.

  • Modern Family should not even be mentioned in the same sentence as Two And A Half Men. One is decent entertainment, the other is inexcusable horrendous trash.

  • toblerone

    NBC being NBC I'm betting it will get a fifth season just to get to 100 episodes needed for syndication. I deny Season 4's existence, regardless of how hot Britta / Gillian Jacobs has looked in the episodes I've bothered to watch this season,

    NBC is dead to me (I will keep watching P&R and Hannibal but when their done then I'm done with Sh*tcock network).

  • Shut Up Already

    There are some exceptions to the "100 Episodes" number (Star Trek only had 79 episodes, for one) and since both Comedy Central and Canada's The Comedy Network have bought syndication rights to the show, I think NBC's just gonna let it die.

  • toblerone

    I firmly believe the only reason Season 4 was made was to bump up the episode count from 67 (now sitting at 80). Another 20 seems unlikely but I wouldn't put it past NBC spiting Community fans by keeping it alive.

  • Rochelle

    I keep watching it as some sort of weird mourning ritual. It's like keeping a zombie because you loved who it was.

  • Gavin Smith

    I wasn't even aware Harmon had been sacked. I still have Community set to series record on my DVR, but I rarely get through an entire show without deleting it with extreme button pressure in disgust at what the show has become. Now I know why. The singing puppet show lasted about 30 seconds into the first song.

  • Sonal Sher

    Your comment has depressed me even more. for me, community would only be three seasons. What is running now is not COMMUNITY>

  • RilesSD

    Exactly. I barely finished the puppet episode, and in doing so hurt my eyes with all of the eye-rolling that it induced.

    As another commenter said, Britta (and Dean) are somehow still ok, but the rest of the characters have taken a severe turn for the worse. Abed is much too self-aware and comes across almost mentally disabled, rather than an enigma. Troy doesn't even seem like he wants to be there anymore. Pierce had a stroke or something? I can barely understand the words coming out of his mouth.

    The show indeed lost it's way, and heart. It's very sad.

  • The Lost Fan

    Great way to put it. But to be honest I didn't even finish the puppet episode..and the worst thing...I don't feel bad about it.

  • Yes. A thousand times yes. And it breaks my heart that it is so.

  • Sbrown

    Thanks for confirming my choice to not watch past the first few minutes of episode 2 this season. If it's not good enough for SLW...

    I think it is those sort of intangible things that are just different. Abed is wrong. It's like they were forcing him to smile more and that's not right - he was perfect the way he was. I only saw the preview for this episode but it seemed like they were trying to be Glee. This is especially wrong. We make fun of Glee. We don't become it.

    The creative spark you describe was totally what made all those little things work. I mourn with you.

  • Lavernika

    I completely agree with Some Guy. Even Community's craziest episodes had a truth to them, something beyond flashy costumes and gimmicks. Last week's episode is the clearest point of that, because the original Glee episode last year was mocking the faux-cheeriness of that show and asks people to be genuine. Whatever the hell happened last week wasn't that at all. Also, Greendale Six? Are we officially discounting Pierce now?

  • Anna von Beav

    You can't see it, but I'm giving you that three-fingers-hand-salute thing they do in The Hunger Games.


  • Tajmccall


  • Anna von Beav



  • AudioSuede

    I'm with you on everything except The West Wing. Season 5 was weak, yes, but seasons 6 and 7 were amazing. I still think that show's the best drama in the history of network television, post-Sorkin seasons included.

  • Three_nineteen

    That's because seasons 6 and 7 weren't The West Wing. They were a combination of The CJ Show and On The Campaign Trail. The show runners also introduced enough new characters that it smoothed over the fact that the Sorkin characters weren't acting like they used to.

  • Arran

    This is exactly right. The White House stuff did recover a little from the season 5 low, but was still far less interesting than the Santos spinoff happening at the same time.

  • AudioSuede

    It's still deeply compelling and well-written television. It's different from the first four seasons in many ways, but at its core it maintains the same qualities, and channels them into new areas. If anything, I like those seasons because they showed us ideas and stories that Sorkin never took the time to explore, especially the campaign trail, which is such a public and fascinating aspect of politics but which the show had barely addressed in its first half.

  • Three_nineteen

    I didn't say the shows weren't good - I really enjoyed On the Campaign Trail (The CJ Show, not so much). They just weren't The West Wing. To me, the core of the show was the characters and their relationships with each other, both of which totally changed with the new show runners. I read somewhere (can't remember where, so make of it what you will) that the studios wanted more internal conflict between the characters, and the new producers obliged. Boy, did they oblige.

  • AudioSuede

    Especially in the fifth season, which is why I think it's the worst. It also lacks much of the idealism and power that made the show what it was; they're so bogged down in failure after failure that it seems like they'll never succeed again. From the end of the fifth season to the start of the sixth is like night-and-day.

  • Ruthie O

    A one word rebuttal: Toby.

  • CardinalChunder

    A two initial counterpoint: CJ

  • Ugh, agreed. And I really like season 6 and 7, but they completely changed the sort of person Toby is.

  • Seconded. I loves me some West Wing Jimmy Smits.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Aside from the 2 1/2 men bit, great piece. The F-16 comparison is brilliant.

    I don't know why but for some reason I think Brita has gotten better this season. I love her but she's the only one. But I will say there has been some continuity, the new group has done the Dean just like Harmon did Chang. Utterly destroying a good character by taking it to stupid lengths.

  • GDI

    Yes! The Harmon era had plenty of mistakes. Chang is definitely one of them.

  • I call BS on all of you. It looks the same, it talks the same, and magically you just know that it isnt the same, but its not because you know that Dan Harmon is no longer involved. Yeah right...

  • AudioSuede

    Except that it doesn't look the same, or talk the same. I know it isn't the same because the style of humor has gone lowest common denominator more often than ever, the show dialed up romances no one cared about, and every character is like a cardboard cutout of who they were in the first three seasons.

    They laugh at their own jokes this year. Watch old episodes of Community, and count how many times they laugh at their own jokes. It's a small difference, but it changes the entire tone of the show to have the characters be AWARE of themselves as humorous characters, instead of as characters who are humorous to others without fully understanding why. Even as self-aware as Community always was before, the characters were rarely self-aware. That difference is the underline under the sentence: "This show is not the same show it was before."

  • kushiro -

    Yes, please explain to the guy who responded to a well-thought, well-written comment by calling you an "idiot".

  • Dan

    How is it lowest common denominator you idiot

  • cruzzercruz

    Because you like it.

  • dan

    That is because you are an idiot

  • spoobnooble

    Okay, who showed Pierce how to post comments on Pajiba?

  • Guest


  • lowercase_ryan

    Nothing justifies turning on Two and A Half Men. Nothing. I'm disappointed in you.

  • BuckyBrewer

    And, has anyone informed the author of the dark turnaround this puppet episode took after he switched channels? He spends the article talking about the show reusing ideas, being too gimmicky, and being like an F-16 that can't survive without Harmon, yet he uses so little detail in his reasoning that I can't take his argument serious -- Demanding that the showrunners need new ideas? What plots this season actually appeared to be recycled to you? There seems to be plenty of fresh and new ideas this season that we never witnessed during the Harmon-era: the school turning on the study group because they hog the study room, a Shawshank Redemption/Prison Break Thanksgiving, stripping Pop Pop from Magnitude, Abed going a date with 2 tropes at once and discovering a 3rd. Plus plenty of ideas that were discussed when Harmon was there but never quite made it to fruition: an inspector spacetime convention, a muppets episode, Jeff meeting his father.

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