It’s obvious to say that NBC’s Community without Dan Harmon is different, but is it worse? Yes. A thousand times worse.
First, go read this story about the whole Harmon getting booted thing and his thoughts on future involvement (see: none).
Dan Harmon IS and WAS Community. The show ended when he left. Community without Dan Harmony is… well, just another sitcom, based on the two episodes we have seen thus far from season 4.
It’s not very funny. Let’s get one thing straight, Dan Harmon pretty much wrote every bit of Community himself. Listen to some of The Nerdist Writers Panel podcasts he and crew appeared on for evidence of this, where it’s pretty much said outright. He even says it in his statement quoted on Screenrant, in a “don’t sue me” way. You can tell now that he’s gone. The dialogue is painfully slow in comparison, and punch lines can be predicted five lines ahead.
It’s no longer nuanced. Characters seem to talk more like a fan-fiction writer would write the dialogue, not like living and breathing people that Harmon channeled. Sure, the characters have always been archetypes in a way, but they also defied those archetypes every single episode. Also, the plot and themes for the episodes always rose above comedy. At times, it seemed like a surreal drama, with some humor thrown in. It was a good television show even when it didn’t make you laugh.
One of the biggest parts of the show was parody, but the parodies were so obscure and subtle. Inspector Spacetime is obviously Doctor Who, but did how many of you actually knew about My Dinner with Andre until they parodied it? It was like an art house filmmaker was writing this show, but masking it all in a screwball comedy.
So now they have the guys who ran Just Shoot Me!. Really? Well, it sure feels like it.
Oooooh, the Dean moves next door to Jeff. I see neighbor hijinks ensuing! Troy doesn’t know about sex? What wacky awkwardness for his new relationship! Jeff’s dad is back in the picture? Will he or won’t he call him? I can hardly contain my anticipation…
They did do something clever in the first episode of this season. They made the episode a commentary on what was sure to be fan reaction. Abed feared the crew graduating, but it was really about fearing change. See, viewers, you’re being silly to not like this show just because it’s different. Embrace change! Otherwise you’re a kid with Aspergers Syndrome living in the past. That’s a pretty standard way of cutting down retorts during your opening salvo of a debate. You predict your opponent’s stance, and then you make it a point of ridicule, thus daring them to go on and use that platform. Heck, they even showed fantasies of the show being turned into the multi-camera sitcoms the new showrunners are popular for, thus stealing the thunder from critics.
Well, the only problem is the show isn’t worse now just because it’s different. It’s worse because the writing is just plain bad. The
“change” is they booted the creator, writer, and mastermind. Community without Dan Harmon is… well, Just Shoot Me!.
I sincerely hope this is the last season for Community. It’s a good thing they’re wanting to give the show closure, for fans. It’s sort of like going ahead and paying the hooker so that she leaves the hotel room already. But I’m sure when the box set comes out most folks will just stop at the real finale — the last episode of season 3.