Open Thread for March 16, 2012

The Open Thread an Community return in the same week.

Community Returns!

Jeff: Someone tell Britta what an analogy is.

Britta: I know what an analogy is! It’s a thought with another thought’s hat on.

Community S03E11

If that’s not a decent description of overthinking, I don’t know what is. And if there’s a series that captures the OTI spirit of impossibly broad popular culture reference, demolishing the high/low culture barrier, and fun, I don’t want to know about it. Because I will have to stop typing right now, download every season, and watch it non-stop until I collapse from exhaustion and hunger.

Community returned to NBC yesterday from what we feared would be indefinite hiatus came out swinging with an episode poking fun at the Wedding Industrial Complex, with a two level meta-commentary (hard to imagine why it struggles to find an audience) on pop culture nerds and normality.

I’m sure you watched it: What do you think?

This week in movies, 21 Jump Street squeezes in before The Hunger Games juggernaut comes rolling into town…oh, I can’t do this. Let’s do some more Community quotes:

Webster’s Dictionary? That’s the Jim Belushi of speech openings. It accomplishes nothing, everyone keeps using it, and nobody knows why!

Oh, also Apple released the The New iPad. I got one. It’s pretty awesome.

Back from a hiatus that you may have feared would be indefinite, this is your… Open Thread.

15 Comments on “Open Thread for March 16, 2012”

    • Pasteur #

      That’s an interesting question. Certainly *somebody* has a better idea as to the show’s fate in advance of when we do, and the stakes are high enough. Is this brief respite a small bet designed to lure us into… something? Has an intentional delay (say, the freshly finished hiatus) been added into the system for some nefarious or clever purpose?

      If the answer to your question is “Yes”, then the show will be renewed for a fourth season. That decision will have been made in advance, regardless of our numbers or ratings; but this whole scheme has been designed to rustle up support for the show in order to hypothetically boost the ratings or convince advertisers that there’s something there. In this scenario, we were right on cue, and everyone profits, I think.


    • Leigh #

      The Wire: greatest show of all time, in any genre
      Community: cleverest show on television this season, and one of the 5 funniest


  1. Gab #

    Has anyone besides me been watching Awake?


    • An Inside Joke #

      Hi Gab.

      I have been. But given how the ratings have been going, we’re definitely in the minority.


      • Gab #

        Sigh. Like I said to Megan, it’ll probably get cancelled. And I think the ratings are probably so low because

        1) It started at a terrible time in the year.
        2) It’s too high-concept, like Megan said.

        This does make me wonder, could it have done better on a different network?


        • An Inside Joke #

          Obviously, everyone is different, but I guess it depends on how you define “better.” Seeing as NBC is in a rebuilding period, I’d be willing to argue that Awake may have the best chances there, as NBC is more likely than more successful networks to take a risk on a lower-rated show. (To jump in on the earlier conversations on Community, I believe this is one of the reasons that comedy has survived so long.)

          One does question whether viewers really make a decision on whether or not to watch a show based on what network it’s on. Beyond the obvious factors (less people are willing to pay for cable, CW and PBS shows may be underexposed do to their lower viewership coming in) the question that is raised is whether some people feel more reluctance to watch the exact same show on FOX versus, say, CBS.

          I could see elements of network branding scaring some viewers away. There are several CW shows that I was late to discover because I was reluctant to watch shows on such a tween/teen-centric network. ABC tends to skew female, CBS is typically a bit older, but I wouldn’t say those branding elements are so prevalent as to scare off potential viewers.

          Obviously, anecdotal evidence isn’t the same as real factual analysis, but I find most of my friends and family aren’t even aware of which network the shows they watch are on. They either have their DVRs or VCRs (yes, they still exist) pre-programmed to record the show and then forget about what channel it’s on, or, if they choose to watch something live, they end up having to flip through channels until they find it.

          Of course, one could argue that if people tend to make their viewing choices based primarily on what they’ve seen advertised in commercials, it would limit Awake’s potential audience to already current viewers of NBC.

          I would say the main inhibitors to Awake’s success thus far are 1. an unusual premier date, as Gab described above, and 2. A high-concept premise that may have struck potential viewers as too dark, confusing, or both.

          And this comment is quickly turning into a bit of a novel, so I’ll stop now.


    • Megan from Lombard #

      I tried to watch the first episode but it really didn’t grab me. The concept is pretty cool; a guy either loses his wife or his son and has a hard time figuring out which one is “real” while coming to grips with losing an important person in his life. However, I fear that this high-concept show is doomed (like all NBC shows really) while it should be given time to develop the “Inception” level of story telling it’s really capable of.


      • Gab #

        Alas, I suspect you’re right about it getting cancelled- I’ll be surprised if it lasts the whole season. Sad…

        I also made the comparison to Inception– it works incredibly. And I was thinking after the pilot that it already raised a lot of similar questions about reality v. dream states, autonomy, the limits of the human psyche and emotional thresholds… It also moves in a similar way- it goes rather fast at some moments, and a lot happens, but it doesn’t necessarily move the overarching story forward or answer any of those important questions in a way that’s very obvious.


  2. KateGonzo #

    Yes, Community is a show by overthinkers, for overthinkers. Leaving no trope unmocked, and no lampshade unhung, since 2009!

    The Troy and Abed storyline this week about normality was simply perfect, given the position the show is in. When they purged themselves of their weirdness, they were finally able to fit in with others (Shirley’s guests) –and Abed was even able to sincerely flirt and dance with a girl!– but they were completely uninteresting. The only fascination I got was from wondering how they did it and how long it would last before they went back.

    Of course, they represent the show itself, and the realization the producers had to face when the show was put on hiatus. Surely Dan Harmon, et al, COULD be normal, and make plenty of money with sitcoms that fit in with all the others on TV. But where’s the fun in that? Compare Troy and Abed’s grey suits to the suits they wore coming out of the Dreamatorium ( Literally! That is literally the comparison Dan Harmon wants you to make! Boring grey suits vs. wild imagination. Yes, it tends to be hit or miss, and sometimes maybe it goes a little to far to hold all of us, but at least it gets you engaged. And when Annie’s Boobs appears out of the vent and Troy convinces Abed they should change back, gosh aren’t you glad Community is back? And moreso, aren’t you glad you watched it live while it was airing, and told all your friends and family to do the same, contributing to the higher Nielsen rating it got last night?


    • Leigh #

      And, when Troy and Abed were acting normal, they made Andre (Malcolm Jamal Warner) nervous and angry, suggesting that even a normal version of the show would be a difficult sell.

      I’m not a Nielsen household, so I watched it on Hulu the next day. Eventually, the stations are going to realize that having their viewers play solitaire during the commercials is better than their viewers changing channels during the commercials, or fast-forwarding through the commercials, and the easily-calculable online numbers will become more important.


      • An Inside Joke #

        I was struck by the Troy and Abed plot this week, and particularly how it played off the Britta plot. All three of the characters were put in a position where they were required to act in a way that was opposed to their normal behhavior. If I were to make a prediction prior to seeing the episode, I would probably have expected Community to do a back-to-basics style episode, something that would be accessible to new viewers so that they could try to boost ratings. Instead, we had an episode in which three major characters’ plot lines only make sense if the viewer is already familiar with the characters, not to mention a plot full of inside jokes and references to former episodes (Annie’s Boobs, Pierce’s relationship with his father, Jeff’s relationship with his father, Shirley and Andre’s past history, etc.) In some ways, I appreciated the potential risks in making such a fan-friendly and new-viewer-unfriendly episode, but I wonder if this sort of disregard for traditional television viewer-grabs might be exactly why Community is in the trouble that it is.


  3. Trevor #

    To me, Community is the single greatest thing to ever come to television in the almost seventy-plus years of actual television broadcasting (as opposed to the earlier Farnsworth experimental era, when a test pattern was the best you could hope for).

    In all seriousness, I’m glad that it has returned because it anchors Thursday nights a little better than 30 Rock (which should follow the Office, in my opinion). I’ve nothing against Up All Night, I’ve just never given it a chance (I’m not sure that I can accept Will Arnett as the lead, he’s much too identified with me as GOB to be anything but an eccentric supporting player). The Office, of course, has seen better days (but I hope next season is better, assuming there is a next season, because NBC could consider pulling the plug). Parks and Rec is the best show on TV (well, not right now, as it’s in hiatus itself, albeit one of a non-threat of cancellation kind, simply making way for Community to come back). To me, it’s Community, Parks and Rec, The Office, and 30 Rock, and that’s the only night I watch NBC regularly.


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