Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Last week – the best TV news week ever?

About five weeks back when I discussed Parenthood's renewal for a 22-episode fifth season, I opined that one of the few pieces of TV news that could have possibly made me happier was Dan Harmon being rehired on Community. That I mentioned this directly alongside the possibility of a time traveler coming back to tell me that George R.R. Martin releases his novels fast enough for Game of Thrones to finish properly should indicate how little I actually believed this would ever happen.

Barring Friday Night Lights and ignoring its sans-Harmon fourth season (which had its high points, but a largely mediocre final arc that crashed and burned with a disastrous finale that's easily the worst episode of the series), Community is the best TV show to air episodes in the last five years. That's opinion, of course, but it's the correct opinion, and certainly no one but contrarians worthy of no thought beyond that needed to roll your eyes can deny the sheer bounty of ambition and creativity that poured forth from this amazing show under Dan Harmon. Frankly, I'll be a little surprised if we see a live-action sitcom season as singularly imaginative as Community season 2 again in my lifetime.

But more important than the formal experimentalism of Community – which season 4 tried without Harmon, and did an ok job with from time to time, but it really, really wasn't the same – this means we'll finally get these characters back on the paths of the emotional journeys their creator intended them to take. Except for Pierce, anyway, but the real Jeff and Britta and Troy and Abed and Annie and Shirley are back, baby. They're fucking back.

So yeah, I'm happy. I'm modulating here, because the sheer extent of how deliriously fucking joyful I am that I'm going to get my favorite TV show back (keeping in mind that I don't consider season 4 the same show) can't really be overstated. Just a few weeks ago I was terrified and depressed that the dreadful "Advanced Introduction to Finality" might be the series finale of Community. And now Dan Harmon is going to get to write the series finale of Community. What the fuck could be better than that?

The answer is nothing, of course. But you know what's a damn close second? The renewal of the spectacular work of horrific televised art that is Bryan Fuller's Hannibal; a vote of confidence for great storytelling in defiance of its mediocre-to-poor ratings. Hannibal isn't just good, it's utterly fantastic. As of this point in its season it's the best debut season for any TV drama since Game of Thrones in 2011 and the best debut season for a network drama since Friday Night Lights in 2006.

Barring Bunheads and The Legend of Korra, it makes me want to go back and reedit just about every positive review I gave a new series in the last two years, because it makes me realize I was faking that positivity all along. Because here is actual bona fide great fucking television worthy of true, unfettered enthusiasm.

And NBC renewed it, and we're going to get to watch this awesome show again come 2014. With Bunheads probably canceled at this point, this is the welcome renewal news I needed to keep going with this whole "being a fan of TV the medium" thing.

(Want to literally hear more on what I have to say on Hannibal? You're in luck, because I already have three podcasts on the topic, with a fourth on the way! Here, here and here. I'd advise one at a time, but if you can listen to three at once like some kind of multitasking beast, hey, rock on. Rock on.)

Dan Harmon rehired on Community, Hannibal renewed against all odds, Parenthood coming back for its fifth (and second full-length) season... What are these feelings I'm feeling towards NBC? It's not like envy, or even hungry... It's like my heart is getting hard.

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