Dan Harmon close to finding a new home at Fox -- would Community be better off there, too?

Coming on the tails of NBC's news that they'd be pursuing "broader" projects for their comedy lineup, Fox has announced that they're moving forward on a possible new sitcom being written by the former showrunner of Community, Dan Harmon. There aren't any details about the show yet, just that they've signed him on to write such a series, but is there a chance that Harmon will find himself more at home here than at NBC? Fox is, after all, the channel that brought us Arrested Development. Then again, they also canceled Arrested Development after just three seasons. But considering the shows they currently have on the air -- like Emmy-nominated quirkfests The New Girl and Raising Hope -- maybe Fox has seen the error of their ways?

And could Community pull a Buffy and find more success at a different network?

While Harmon's new show is signed-and-sealed official news, the latter question about a possible network move by Community is merely a thought I've had lately. And while others may have thought of it, it probably doesn't even qualify as conjecture. But could it be worth a thought? After all, Fox has now brought on that show's creator to write a pilot for a multi-camera comedy show. That's all we know about it, no premises, no casting speculation, nothing concrete yet (if we're going by TV Guide, anyway). This won't even be Harmon's first show for Fox -- maybe you remember Heat Vision and Jack, about the talking motorcycle played by Owen Wilson that belonged to Jack Black. Harmon co-wrote that show, and after it left the air in 1999 (the same year it began), it became a cult favorite. In fact, it only went as far as the pilot, so that's a pretty culty cult following.

But fast forward just a couple of years and Fox airs another cult favorite, Arrested Development. It becomes an instant favorite with fans, but never really hits its stride in the ratings. While it is praised by critics, the cancellation question is constantly hanging over it. In 2006, that finally happens, and a specific portion of the TV audience mourns while everyone else discovers it a year too late. (But it's doing fine now, gearing up for its huge Netflix comeback, and Ron Howard has proof for us in the form of a script.)

Something to keep in mind, however, is that when Arrested Development was not winning the ratings, reality shows and American Idol were. And that's simply not the case anymore. Now, while American Idol meanders into oblivion (despite the addition of the fabulous Mariah Carey as a judge), Fox has become the home of silly, quirky scripted television -- Glee, its animation block featuring the Seth McFarlane brand of comedy, Fringe, its live-action sitcoms. This is not the Fox of 2006. This is the channel that NBC is too timid to become. And that could be the perfect place for Dan Harmon (besides Adult Swim, where he also developing a show) -- and maybe even Community. It's just a thought.

Fox eyes comedy from Community's Dan Harmon [The Hollywood Reporter]


  1. Community had a great run.  Let it rest.   

    Same with Arrested Development.  It had a good run, remember it fondly.  Not really excited about it coming back.

    Sometimes legendary shows are legendary because they never had a chance to start to suck.   Star Trek, Firefly, Freaks and Geeks, My So Called Life…

    1. Community had a great run.  Let it rest.

      Let it rest? It’s not dead yet! Community was renewed for a 13 episode fourth season, which will be airing at 8:30 on Fridays in the fall.

      1. Fridays at 8:30?  So this is its fourth and final season then.  You know a network is really committed to a show when they put it in the Friday night death slot.  Which is a shame because I like Community.

    2. You’re right but you’re also wrong. Star Trek TOS you’re probably right (a lot of it that did get made sucks as it is), but Star Trek TNG showed that you can sustain a quality episodic sci-fi show for a long time without sucking – I think they easily could have done another couple seasons past the seven that they did without sucking in the slightest.

      I’m not saying that Firefly would have lasted for seven great seasons, but it easily should have had at least one or two more to flesh out and complete the various storylines. And remember, the first season of Star Trek TNG totally blows – for all we know Firefly could have followed the same pattern and just gotten better and better.

      I agree that being cut short does add something to the “legendariness” of some of these shows. A show can still be well-loved and even legendary even if by the end it starts to suck, though, and as I argued already it’s not inevitable that a show has to start to suck before they end it. From your list, Freaks and Geeks and Arrested Development in particular had a lot more potential in them.

      I think Community will suffer the fate of sucking before finally being canceled but only because they fired Harmon. I think if they hadn’t fired him, they could have put in one or two more great seasons and then felt satisfied finishing it. There’s only so long you can pretend that the characters are still in community college anyway – it was always a show with a built-in expiration!

      It’s not that I think my favorite shows should go on forever. It’s just that these shows we’re discussing, anyway, are not given a chance to get to a point where it makes sense to end it – leaving us hanging and disappointed instead.

  2. Heat Vision and Jack never made it to air – just to the torrents, and just the pilot.  

  3. I love how this article dances around the one cancellation that everyone’s automatically filling in in their heads.

    Fox is the network that will be notorious for years for killing shows that we love. (By killing, I mean smothering in the cradle)

    1. Sorry, I’m blanking on the one that should be filling my head – can you spell it out?

      But I think that’s a bit unfair to Fox – they may cancel more shows we love, but largely because they’re the ones that create most of them. Of the major networks Fox is surely the most geek-friendly – from The Simpsons and X-Files to Firefly and Fringe, Fox has always been the most willing to at least try.

      The fact that Arrested Development got three seasons at all is kind of amazing, as the numbers were so low. It wouldn’t have been renewed at NBC or CBS, even if they had dared try something like that in the first place.

      1. Dollars to donuts they’re thinking of Firefly. But after they gave Dollhouse a decent shot and they kept inexplicably (and endearingly) renewing Fringe, I think it’s time to let go of the “Fox kills everything” mindset.

        1. Fox kills a lot of great shows, but it also brings them to life and gives them many of the chances they have to build their followings. I’m not saying I like them, but I think they’re one of the better ones.

        2. My understanding is that Fox changed the direction of the show early on.  They turned Eliza Dushku into some kind of malleable action hero to avoid controversy with Joss Whedon’s  original vision.  The show got off to a really poor start, which didn’t help it at all.  I, of course, missed a couple of the episodes of the second and last season, when the show actually started to improve, as the producers tried to cram them all in the television schedule before Fox finally gave it the axe.

          Yeah, Fox doesn’t actually kill everything, but sometimes that’s not for lack of trying. ;)

          1. Having read a couple of things about Joss’ original vision, I’m not sure all the changes were bad. Case in point: an episode about a nice old man whose daughter committed suicide because he molested her looking to reconnect and get reassurance that he’s not the reason she killed herself.

            There’s not enough brain bleach in the world.

      2. Let’s see:

        Arrested Development
        Lone Gunman
        The Tick
        Family Guy

        Just Google “cancelled FOX shows” and you’ll find many a list of glorious shows flushed down the toilet at their peak.

        1. Dollhouse was given two full seasons despite a very weak ratings, I believe. And Arrested Development was given three (?). Everything else happened over ten years ago (with the exception of Futurama, which ended in 2003, iirc).

          1. Arrested Development won nearly more awards than any show that FOX has ever put out. The fact that they would have cancelled it probably had more to do with its strong anti-Bush/Republican slant. FOX has a history of cancelling politics they disagree with. Dollhouse had pretty excellent viewership, helping kick FOX up a couple notches in multiple categories. Also heavy political message.

            I’m not sure what your point is about the older shows.

        2. The point about the time is that a lot can change in the management of an organization in ten years, and that their track record has gotten a lot better.
          Separate from that,  critically acclaimed and low rated are two things that sadly tend to go together. Hate the ratings system, it’s very badly designed, but it’s the currency of the realm and no network is going to continue to back a show that loses them money. I never heard that Dollhouse had solid ratings; in fact, I heard a lot of, “holy shit, they RENEWED IT?! It was toast for sure” after the first season.

  4. I don’t think Community will ever go to (or last long enough, unfortunately) Fox. The Harmon-Community break up was caused by Chevy Chase. Unless Chevy is gone, it’s not happening.

    I think we should take Harmon’s new show as just that – a new show. For a guy who came up with the potpourri of silliness that is Community, there has to be a lot more for Harmon to write.

  5. Community will never be a hit on network TV but always have a cult following on the internet.

    The show is just too witty for the average mouth-breathing American family to watch while they’re eating their fried mayonnaise balls at dinnertime.

    But it is a great show with a fiercely loyal group of fans that watch it on the internet. Unfortunately the networks lose money when people don’t watch it on their television screen.

  6. Heat Vision and Jack would have enjoyed a one year run before the high concept would have run out of steam.   Community is fun, but it’s already starting to be much less so than in previous seasons.  A few of the episodes this past season were flat out terrible.  Add to this the fact that Harmon is a narcissistic ass most of the time and you’ll see that Fox is the best place for him to be. He’s got an American Dad or Cleveland show second act in him for network TV. Let him pitch a Laserfart series there.  

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