After I finished taking my SNL notes but before I sat down to write this recap, I decided to take the temperature on Justin Timberlake’s fifth ride on the host pony and check in with some of the other media responses to last weekend’s show. Despite theglowingtweets and my own enjoyment of this episode, some of the reviews were lukewarmat best.
Maybe people have reached the JT hype-saturation point? That’s understandable. I think that one of the reasons I loved this episode was the fact that Timberlake is the kind of performer you don’t have to worry about. As is the case with many vets, but particularly one who’s still in the golden career bubble of relevancy, you’re able to put aside any concerns about sweat stains, stutter fumbles, and any kind of projected post-one-a.m. anxiety attack that you imagine he or she will experience when thinking back on a particularly bad sketch. You can relax.
For a while now, Community's endless fount of crises — beloved showrunner fired, time slot moved to Friday night, return of show delayed indefinitely, etc., etc. — has been kind of hilarious. Sure, yeah you feel bad for all parties involved, but they're all rich people and they all seem to be taking it well. So why not have a chuckle at the expense of a sitcom somehow attempting to re-create the Book of Job? This latest flare-up, though, is, uh, just really depressing.
As Chevy Chase has revealed over the course of several (possibly drunken) voice mails, he doesn't think Community is particularly funny. As he's succinctly put it, it's "just a fucking mediocre sitcom." As far as your average TV viewer goes, Chevy is certainly in the majority. The show, mostly unknown by the masses, is dismissed even by a lot of dedicated TV nerds for its quirkiness and refusal to say consistent in tone, genre, and form. Where Chevy is, presumably, in the minority with his negative opinion on Community, however, is within the group of humans currently starring in Community. And as recently as April, Chevy was giving interviews where he predicted he "won’t be around that much longer."
Last weekend, when Community showrunner Dan Harmon accidentally leaked an embittered rant of a voice mail Chevy Chase left him, it brought up some tough questions. Like: How contentious is the seemingly happy-go-lucky Community set? What chain of events led to such intense animosity? And how would the rift affect the always-tenuous future of the geek-beloved show? But now a second embittered, ranting Chevy Chase voice mail has surfaced (this one from March 2011), and it brings up only one question: Why is Chevy Chase constantly leaving insane voice mails?
Yesterday, Community showrunner Dan Harmon addressed his feud with Chevy Chase for the first time since it blew up over the weekend. If you’re just now dropping in on this little bit of drama, though, a brief recap: Chevy walked off set during the last day of Community shooting last month; Harmon then gave a “Fuck You, Chevy” speech at the wrap party, in front of Chevy’s family; Chevy retaliated with an explicit, possibly Beaujolais-influenced voice mail chewing Harmon out; Harmon accidentally leaked the voice mail after playing it at a comedy show in L.A. Good stuff, right?
In what will certainly be a collision of TV nerd worlds so intense it will release the energy equivalent of a thousand Arrested Development movie rumors into the atmosphere, killing the entire audience of a Fringe Comic-Con panel, Vulture reports that erstwhile Breaking Bad antagonist Giancarlo Esposito is shooting a guest spot on Community. That's right: Gus Fring will soon be visiting Greendale Community College. (Assuming, of course, that NBC doesn't go insane and delay the second half of Community's rudely and indefinitely hiatused third season into oblivion.) Esposito will play "a business associate" of Pierce's father, which seems to set up a mind-boggling number of possible racism-tinged interactions with Chevy Chase's study-group pariah. (And let's set the over/under on meth/Heisenberg/Pollo Hermanos/Pontiac Aztec/dinner-bell-ringing references at five, just to be safe.)
If there aren't at least 10 animated GIFs on Tumblr by the end of the day depicting Pierce detonating the wheelchair bomb that killed Gus, then cackling nefariously as the half-flayed Chicken Man daintily adjusts his tie before collapsing into a pile of smoldering flesh and shattered bones, well, then the Internet has failed us. (Read: Someone make this for us, right now. Go!)