Yesterday, I posted the first part of an extremely long interview I did with “Community” creator Dan Harmon about his return to the NBC comedy, saying goodbye to Donald Glover, making peace with Chevy Chase, and more. Now it’s time for part 2, where we get into more of the specific creative decisions that have driven season 5, why Chang remains the character Harmon struggles with most, letting Annie grow up, and how Harmon feels about the possibility of the phrase “six seasons and a movie” becoming a reality, among many Greendale-related topics.
A review of tonight's "The Americans" coming up just as soon as I have half a sock drawer...
Welcome to an exciting installment of Adventures in Network Press Releases, where a simple email about the renewal of "Chicago Fire," "Chicago P.D." and "Grimm" instead turns into a stealth renewal announcement for "Parks and Recreation" and "Celebrity Apprentice."
Earlier this evening, NBC sent out a press release with a simple and clear headline about the first three shows being renewed. Makes sense. The two "Chicago" shows have done relatively well after, respectively, "The Voice" and "Law & Order: SVU," and NBC likes being in the Dick Wolf business, and "Grimm" has been a stable Friday performer for a few years now.
Then came the strange part, as the release mentioned previous renewals for "The Blacklist," "The Voice," "Parks and Recreation," "Celebrity Apprentice" and "The Biggest Loser." The problem was that only the first two had actually been previously announced as renewed for next season. Back at press tour, Fienberg goaded Bob Greenblatt into saying he expected "Parks" would be back next season, but no contracts had been signed, "Celebrity Apprentice" had been in limbo for a long time, though there have been recent reports of casting work being done for a 14th edition, and there was no news at all on "Biggest Loser."
As it turns out, "Biggest Loser" being included was a mistake, but NBC says the others are correct.
So if you have your scoreboard handy, here is what happened tonight:
* "Chicago Fire," "Chicago PD" and "Grimm" were all renewed, loudly and proudly.
* "Parks and Rec" and "Celebrity Apprentice" got stealth renewals, and we still don't know when the latter will air or exactly what the deal is for the former (my guess is "Parks" gets the "30 Rock" treatment with a shortened order for a season that we know going in will be the final one).
* "Biggest Loser" fans got their hopes up for a couple of minutes until NBC sent a correction.
* Many other NBC shows (including "Biggest Loser," but also "Law & Order: SVU," "Parenthood," "Hannibal," "Revolution," "Dracula," the new Tuesday comedies, "Community," and even "The Michael J. Fox Show," among others) will have their fates decided later in the season, or at upfront time in early May. The improbable "Community" dream of six seasons and a movie: not dead yet!
On some level, I’m still having a hard time believing that Dan Harmon is back running “Community,” and that the show has been as good as it’s been for most of this season. Large entertainment conglomerates are not generally in the business of rehiring idiosyncratic creators whom they have fired, and TV shows that go off the rails as badly as “Community” did in the Harmon-less fourth season rarely return to former levels of glory.
Last year, Showtime's new dramas "Ray Donovan" and "Masters of Sex" each got to air after established hits in "Dexter" and "Homeland," respectively. This year, they'll have to support each other, as the two will air as a Sunday night bloc starting on July 13, with "Ray Donovan" at 9 and "Masters of Sex" at 10.
I didn't have much use for "Ray Donovan," either as a glib show about a Hollywood fixer or a more psychologically-fraught look at a violent, damaged family from Boston. "Masters," on the other hand, was one of my very favorite shows of 2013, and airing in the summer may give it a little more critical sunlight than when it was on opposite so many other notable Sunday shows in the fall.
Showtime's period horror series "Penny Dreadful," which is debuting in May, will have wrapped up by July 13, and "Homeland" will have a new companion, still to be announced, come fall.
While other story arcs on this season of "Parenthood" have come and gone (goodbye, Kristina's improbable mayoral campaign; hello, Kristina's improbable charter school plan), the destruction of Joel and Julia's marriage has formed the spine throughout. We can and have argued about how well the show has handled all of it, and also which party is more at fault — I ran into another showrunner while I was in LA last week and we spent a good 10 minutes arguing about fault — but it's led to many of this season's most memorable moments (including the conclusion of last week's episode) and some outstanding work from Sam Jaeger and Erika Christensen.
It's morning round-up time, with brief thoughts on last night's "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" and "Trophy Wife" coming up just as soon as I know the Papa John...
One of the lessons drilled into any young writer is a simple one: "Write what you know." The problem, at least when applying this rule to television, is that what many of the people who work in television know about is television and nothing but, which is why there have been so many shows over the years — most of them failures — about characters who work in the entertainment industry.
Inside showbiz stories aren't inherently bad, as seven seasons of "30 Rock," or even a showbiz-adjacent series like "Curb Your Enthusiasm" have amply demonstrated. But watching HBO's new comedy series "Doll & Em," all I could think about was how much I wished the setting was anywhere but Hollywood.
A review of tonight's "Justified" coming up just as soon as I have a pleather attaché...
So remember that time last week when Dan and I were able to record an entire Firewall & Iceberg show in the same room? Well, we had so much fun that I extended my stay in LA indefinitely to record another one! Or else we just changed shirts and recorded another one only minutes later! Or some other solution to the mystery that is us!
Whenever it was recorded, Dan and I review the CW's "The 100" and HBO's "Doll & Em," tease the new season of "Game of Thrones," and answer questions on a variety of subjects, including the current state of "Parks and Recreation."
As always, you can send us questions at email@example.com. There's also now a YouTube channel where you can subscribe to all upcoming Firewall & Iceberg videos, at https://www.youtube.com/show/firewalliceberg.