Friday, April 5, 2013

See 'Community's' ACTUAL "Herstory of Dance" Tag...

After season four of Community came back with less creativity and even less viewers (sorry, but it's all true), NBC seemed to scramble to get fans excited about the show again. One attempt at this was to shuffle the airing order of episodes so that what they deemed the quirkiest and/or funniest would be front-loaded in the season, enticing and attracting new audiences, regardless of continuity for episodes that would now have to come much later in the season. That includes pushing the highly anticipated musical puppet episode "Intro to Felt Surrogacy" up about half a season. The episode was 4.13 in production order, but will actually be airing on April 11 2013, in the middle of this fourth season. 

It's not unheard of for networks to shuffle airing order of comedies. After all, traditional sitcoms didn't carry arcs through from one episode to another (unless they were marked as "very special" two-parters), so you used to be able to lift them up and move them around as much as you wanted. Today that is less true, with relationships tweaking week to week based on responses from characters to whatever wacky hijinks they get up to. But with "Herstory of Dance" leading into "Intro to Felt Surrogacy," NBC did something surprising and actually went into the former episode to tweak the narrative to get the audience more excited about tuning in next week. How did they do this? By replacing the original tag that actually went with "Herstory of Dance" with a fun but completely self-serving "next week on."

Here is the original "Herstory of Dance" tag featuring guest star Sophie B. Hawkins indulging Troy (Donald Glover), Abed (Danny Pudi), and Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) with personalized versions of one of her hit songs:

And here is the Greendale gang as puppets singing "Daybreak":

Personally I was deeply disappointed to see something so on message for Community as "I wish Abed was Batman" be deleted. I've been someone lamenting the loss of elements that genuinely "feel" like Community as I know and love it (and have for three years). As "easy" as it is in terms of in jokes, Batman is one of those things. And as much as I am one of the many super excited to see "Intro to Felt Surrogacy" (so much so that I have Sony on speed dial in case they decide to auction off the puppets used in the episode), I feel cheated that the first glimpse came tacked on, completely out of context, as a sad attempt to drum up more viewers.

The "Daybreak" tag would have been special as a clear promo-- or as the tag of the actual puppet episode-- not as a lame, seemingly last minute plea from NBC. "Herstory of Dance" wasn't a perfect episode, but it had a lot of really sweet character moments and one kick-ass cameo that got overshadowed by cutting it short to put the puppets on sooner. In many ways, it felt like NBC felt like "Herstory of Dance" was just something viewers had to "get through" to get to the good stuff. It's common for networks to choose special, select episodes to promote more, but usually not to the disrespect of the other episodes.  

Community, especially, is one show that needs more overall promotion to increase its weekly ratings, not to drive the numbers up only for one or two stunt-y episodes (and this season, episodes like "Conventions of Space and Time" or "Intro to Felt Surrogacy" really do feel like stunts rather than just part of the organic out-of-the-box narrative because they are much fewer and farther between). This is all extremely unfair and unfortunate.

1 comment:

Kyle said...

Sadly, I don't think Community really needs more promotion, not if it's to get the show renewed for the watered down version we currently get. The change after Harmon left is nearly as bad as when Sorkin left the West Week.

I still watch it each week (DVR'd, not live like I used to), but it's because I still enjoy the characters. I don't know if I could bring myself to give up on it entirely, so NBC might have to pull that plug for me.