Community is canceled, the Hulu nation fights back by getting angry on the internet…
Look, it’s hard to deny that Community was always struggling in the ratings. But so is Parks & Rec, which receives a similar ratio of audience acclaim to perpetually sinking network numbers, and got renewed. The difference here being that the latter is wholly owned by NBC, whereas Sony owns a substantial portion (I keep hearing half, but who cares at this point) of Community, thus making a lifetime of split syndication dollars less attractive for Dan Harmon’s cult -yeah, I’ll say it – Masterpiece. So yes, I’m more than a little pissed. But hey, we can fix this!
I do, however, think Community’s death rattle jab at its executioner is a beautifully fitting way to conclude the series
Yes, NBC pulled the trigger, but my gut tells me Sony is largely to blame for the current situation (and I’m not even talking about Harmon’s absence during the fourth season.) In a rather bold move for NBC, Parks & Rec has been freely available via a myriad of streaming apps and services, thus allowing it find an audience outside of the aged Must See TV dwellers who still dutifully tune in to television as if it were a weekly dentist appointment. Community was never really afforded that luxury, and assuming you’re not reading this in a newspaper, I doubt you’ll argue with me when I say that the audience that loved, and probably would’ve loved, the show isn’t watching NBC at 8 o’clock anymore.
For the most part, Community has never been made available for free via subscription streaming service, and only on a single commercial-supported platform, and spoiler, it wasn’t the struggling one that Sony owns. For fucksake, the show hasn’t even been made available on the nearly dead Blu-ray, yet another platform that coincidentally shares an owner with the goddamned show, meaning fan and potential fans’ only option for HD episodes was via pricey $2-3 iTunes downloads and outright piracy. (I’ll let you guess which one my friends and I chose… I’m so sorry, Dan Harmon.)
All that said, Community hung in there for a long time, a miraculous feat when you consider the bizarre, highly publicized trials and tribulations the show went through despite barely making a dent in the mainstream. And why is that? Because we kept talking about it. Because it’s exceptionally good. And that’s precisely the kind of thing streaming services depend on. (If there’s a rabid audience for The Big Bang Theory or The Voice on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube, etc., then I’m certainly not following them.) By all accounts I’ve read, Harmon still takes the mantra “Six Seasons and a Movie” very seriously, and there’s now an incensed wave of fans I’d bet are beyond anxious to follow him anywhere that can become a reality. So I sincerely ask you, what streaming service will make turn Community’s semi-serious hastag into a goddamned reality?!
Duh. The obvious choice, but still, unarguably the company with the deepest pockets and willingness to take risks. At the very least, and this really is a desperate Community fan making an unpleasant compromise for the sake of the show he loves, I’ve made my own piecemeal hastag pitch for #sixthseasonISthemovie. Hardly ideal, but the longer Mitch Hurwitz talks about his Arrested Development movie, the less likely it seems to ever happen. And while the Netflix-shepherded fourth and seemingly final season may have irritated some fans, I not only loved it, that Comedy Rashomon format, dispensing a larger, longer story in 30 minute chunklets, could’ve served as both a full season and a massive film (arguably) palatable when viewed in a single sitting. All it lacked is brevity and a satisfying conclusion… Work with me here, Netflix!
Thing is, the fourth season of Arrested Development reportedly didn’t amass Netflix the surge in subscribers it was expecting, at least not relative to the 44 million folks who already pony up every month. And if we’re being completely honest with one another here… Community and Arrested Development likely have a tremendous overlap in terms of audience. (Evidenced by the above joke from season five.) But one thing’s for sure: to avoid the scheduling issues that sadly prevented the Arrested cast from appearing in many scenes together, someone needs to strike while the irons… haven’t signed onto other pilots. And if anyone has the financially solvent balls to act immediately with reckless abandon, it’s Netflix.
4. HULU PLUS
Much to the dismay of people who like to watch things streaming and On Demand, some dipshit executive prevented Community from appearing on a service co-owned by the network airing it (NBC) until the third goddamned season. Feel free to argue that this is where the show truly hit its stride, but I can’t help but feel like the show’s sedated lunacy and ultra-rewarding meta commentary was likely lost on people who lacked the ability to discover the show during the first two years of finding its footing. If anything, Hulu, you owe it to Community as a make-good. I use Hulu all the time, and it would eventually go on to become my go-to source for Community, and I’m incredibly thankful for thath, if only for never ever having to be shown what’s coming up next on The Voice.
In spite of its Hulu’s horribly incongruous design across the web and my consoles, someone picking what new stuff to promote on the service would always find a featured slot for Community. While airing new episodes, I always knew I could find Community the fastest by filtering through “Popular Shows.” Even if NBC and Sony didn’t care as much about showcasing Community to an ideal audience, somebody at Hulu certainly did. While shows like Modern Family and Family Guy vastly outperformed Community in those traditional TV ratings we no longer figure into, you couldn’t see that reflected in Hulu’s front page. Furthermore, Hulu’s cheapy Flash-animation/BBC import approach to “original content” sure as shit isn’t working for me (“On an all-new Pramface…”), but a continued reliance on an established Hulu show very much would and could.
Dear Crackle, you’re free, I have you downloaded to my Xbox 360 and Xbox One… and I kind of hate you. Other than being a showcase for Jerry Seinfeld to chaufer his famous friends around, your sole point of existence seems to be as to syndicate long-concluded, yet fantastic shows like Seinfeld and The Shield, but in ultra-irritating timed windows that sometimes start up midway through second and third seasons, instead of access to the beginning/complete series. If you think I’m going to wait around for to start a show from the beginning like you’re the goddamned county fair, you’re sorely mistaken. Nice get with The Three Stooges, though…
I have no problem whatsoever with Crackle’s insertion of commercials, but it can’t be argued that its exclusive content is fucking anemic and does very little justify the inconvenience. My real issue is that Crackle is a subsidiary of Sony, who just so happens to makes shows that could benefit from an On Demand internet audience, like say… you see where I’m going, right? Yet right now, emblazoned across Crackle’s current homepage in the TV Featured section is a fucking a featurette for Sony’s new Spider-man movie and something called “Jeopardy Flashback.” This… this is just embarrassing.
If it’s good enough for Nathan Fillion, it’s good enough for you
Sony owns a Raiders of the Lost Ark-sized warehouse of sought after entertainment, and outside of some ancient movies and a few lackluster original series (sorry Cleaners, never heard of you), there’s a woefully insignificant amount of content to make Crackle worth adopting into our routines, even for at the cost of FREE. But perhaps there’s something exclusive, with an established audience that could change that? Every other streaming service seems to aspire to a premium tier… I don’t mean to get down on Crackle – he’s trying! My hope with this entry is to provoke someone at Crackle to say to Poppa Bear “Hey Dad, are you going to just throw that away?”
2. AMAZON PRIME
Look, I know you just sunk a shitload of money into seizing HBO’s library, but you’ve also invested an absurd sum of money into streaming iPhone apps to my television in an valiant effort to create a videogame console that’s destined to fail. What’s another dozen mil for Community, huh?! Live a little Amazon, you’ve earned it!
To add little more relevance to this entry, I’ve recently fallen in love with Hannibal, which has some deal (at least with the first season anyway) on Amazon Prime. I know little about the deal, other than that NBC’s credits for the show plug Amazon’s Hannibal exclusivity and that shit ain’t on Hulu. And let’s not pretend that was done as free favor.. To me that suggests someone at Amazon saw serious potential in the show, possibly more than a network that would air it on Friday nights. And surprising absolutely no one, in addition to Hannibal being considered by fans and critics as far too good (and gory!) for a network TV, it too is hovering above the chopping block of cancellation! But like Community, the internet is behind the show, and already speculating where it will end up after NBC because its too good to let go.
More importantly, as someone who used Amazon their entire life primarily for the purchase of entertainment media like games, books, and movies, as I lean more toward digital and the cloud, my need for the two-day shipping offered by Prime is diminishing at a rate exponentially faster than Amazon is increasing its Instant Video library. ESPECIALLY when they’ve just decided to raise the price! However… I’d happily pay an extra $10 a year for more Community alone. Seriously, even if Amazon stripped me of expedited shipping and every stupid season of Dexter, I’d giddily pay the new price for Prime, probably more, as long as it meant Community had an extended stay on the airwaves. I can’t imagine I’m alone.
1. PLAYSTATION NETWORK
The only “favor” Sony ever did Community in terms of discoverability was offering the first episode on PSN for free. Following that, episodes would occasionally appear for the relatively astronomical sum of $2-$3 an episode. Yeah… no thanks. With still no Blu-ray option for Community over five years in to its arguably too-brief existence, perhaps this was an effort to maintain an avenue of exclusivity with local (non-streaming) HD Community content… But I highly doubt that, and it wouldn’t make PlayStation Network’s On Demand video platform any less shitty.
Admittedly, I had a bad experience with PSN very early on, and have since downloaded nothing but a 99 cent introductory episode of Hey, Dude! solely for the novelty of posting a picture of it on Twitter. (It was totally worth it.) PSN serves no purpose for me beyond buying games, mostly because it offers next to nothing exclusively, its prices are immovably static, and there are numerous other trusted, longstanding platforms where I get the same content for less, and they’re all accessible through Sony’s PlayStation console anyway. Thanks? For comparison, both Netflix and Amazon Prime offer 2012’s biggest film, The Avengers, in HD streaming for free as part of its subscription. Sony would kindly ask that you pay $20 for that same experience, and also forgo special features, a box and bonus materials available on a Blu-ray disc at almost the same price. Eat a dick, why would anyone in their right mind pay you for any video content?!
The problem is that Sony’s store, PSN or whatever they want to call it, is that it’s not ingrained in the daily lives of millions of PS3/PS4 owners who casually zip by it every day on their way to far superior video services. It flies under the radar of our spending habits and routines, but maybe it wouldn’t if we were given a reason to stop and look. The armchair executive wants to suggest Community the first video programming available to PlayStation Plus subscribers, but the gate needn’t be that high. Even if Sony doesn’t care about exclusive video content for its next-gen console, from the recently publicized ET landfill documentary, something probably to do with sports to the Spielberg-supported Halo series, it’s beyond clear that Microsoft does. There will undoubtedly need to be some form of competition here, so why combat the Xbox One with untested content when you could leverage a fan base of millions with a show you partially own? Integrating new episodes of Community into to the PlayStation 4 is not only the kind of thing sure to generate headlines, more importantly, it’ll undoubtedly have to be something for Community fans to consider when buying a new console. And unless Community itself was dead wrong, its fans are likely gamers.
THE WILD CARD: WWE NETWORK!
Look, this is highly unlikely, but the thing just launched and I’m already pretty bored with it. So if Vince McMahon deems a consider an unrelated franchise like fucking Leprechaun worth resurrecting, why not a comedy. John Cena could guest star!