Note: This article is in response to Blaire Knight-Graves’ review of the ‘Community’ season 4 finale.
by GUEST CONTRIBUTOR Ricky Diaz (@rickyjdiaz)
First, let me say, I respect Blaire and her writing style, and the comic book metaphor she came up with for Heroic Origins was a great one. But like Community – she went to the well once too often with the Advance Intro to Finality – Combo Man? Really? – seriously though.
I am a “communie”, one of those dedicated followers of Community who will defend it no matter what. So when a rebuttal was asked for, I had to be the one who stepped up to take it. Now, that’s not to say that I LOVE every episode of Community, but like a fan, I tend to concentrate on the good rather than the bad.
When Community aired the first episode of its fourth season, people were outraged, and I quickly wrote an article for the old tumblr site defending it. Now here I am, a day removed from the season/series finale, writing about it again.
Back then I compared Community to the Chicago Bulls. Both had lost the man who was synonymous with it. Dan Harmon for the former, Michael Jordan for the latter. Guaracio/Port were the Kukoc of the Bulls: The guy(s) who came in after Jordan/Harmon with a lot of pressure on their shoulders to right the ship (and for those of you who watch Happy Endings as well, that show dipped in quality without them there to helm it). It takes time for a new player/showrunner to find their feet, not everyone who enters the “game” comes out guns blazing, only a few can manage that. But over time, they can find their spot, and eventually start cranking out great games/episodes. That’s what happened with Community. Slowly but surely they started to find their feet, and produce some half way decent episodes. Was it the same? No, never going to be, but it was different. Different isn’t necessarily bad, Kukoc wasn’t flashy like Jordan, but they still pulled out wins, that’s how I see Guaracio/Port.
First, let’s think about the pressure they had. Unlike Harmon, who could do no wrong with the fans yet seemingly did everything wrong with the network, Guaracio/Port not only had to deal with the network, but also the fans. What they produced wasn’t the best work, but everyone goes on like Harmons episodes were all great. Guaracio/Port seemed to have a brief when they first came onboard, “make the show, like the first season”, and whilst the first season was great, trying to mix that in with the meta-ness/popular culture laden/outside the box/concept episodes that Harmon became synonymous with was a tough task. Was it a success? Half and half, but like I said, it wasn’t as if Harmon always hit home runs (I’m mixing my sports metaphors here).
Now, not only did they have the fans/network to deal with, but they also had to deal with a mass exodus – the Russo brothers leaving really hurt them (although Shapeero did a bang up job in directing) – of writers/directors. This left them with a few veterans (yet still new to the business) and pretty much a brand new writing team (and that’s not including the Chevy Chase problems, as well as the reshuffle of episodes due to the hiatus).
Now. The season itself… wasn’t the best, but then again, it never was going to be in comparison to what came before it. Guaracio/Port did their best to make the show for the fans, and by that, they watched every episode, and references past episodes A LOT. Was that a good thing? Well it showed that they at least watched the show, and like I said in my first article, I’d prefer that they try too hard, then not try at all.
Now, season 5? If there is one, what do I hope will happen? Its simple: Guaracio/Port have to make it their own. They can still have bits and pieces from the previous seasons of Community, but its time for them to add their own spin on it, and not just rehash things that the fans will like. With season 4 out of the way, they can learn from their mistakes, and also have the ghost of Harmon laid to rest. They cant recreate Harmon, but what they can do is adapt it.
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