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August 1, 2014

Can Paintball-Scale Spectacle Save 'Community' From 'The Big Bang Theory'?

by Gary Susman, posted Aug 16th 2010 6:03PM
'Community'
If you loved the brilliant 'Modern Warfare' paintball-battle episode of 'Community' (and who didn't?), then prepare yourself for similar over-the-top spectacle and merciless pop-culture riffing throughout season 2, which begins Sept. 23. Because 'Community' may have to pull out all the stops to save itself from the steamroller that is 'The Big Bang Theory.'

'Community' proved a modest hit last year, but this fall, it'll be facing off against one of TV's most popular comedies when CBS, in an unprecedented assault on NBC's age-old Thursday comedy supremacy, moves 'Big Bang' to Thursdays at 8PM. 'Big Bang' averages 14 million viewers each week, 'Community' 5 million.

In an extensive recent interview with New York magazine's Vulture blog, 'Community' creator Dan Harmon details many of the weapons he plans to deploy this season, hoping they'll detonate against his new opponent with paintball-like force.

'Community' creator Dan HarmonHarmon says there will be stunt casting, starting with the suddenly ubiquitous Betty White guest-starring in the season premiere as an anthropology professor, which Harmon says he plans to make a recurring role. There'll be holiday extravaganzas, like a possible stop-motion episode for Christmas and a gory-but-hilarious episode for Halloween that Harmon calls "the equivalent of paintball." There'll be more of the show's trademark movie parodies, including one of 'Apollo 13' in episode four. And there may even be another paintball war.

Will such tactics be enough to stave off 'Big Bang'? That show has its own stunt-casting guest spots planned, including the return of Mayim Bialik as Sheldon's Sheldon-esque love interest, the likely return of nemesis Wil Wheaton, and a cameo by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak as himself.

There's also the question of how much of 'Big Bang's' loyal following will follow it when it vacates the Monday slot it's held for its first three years, alongside such CBS comedy hits as 'Two and a Half Men' and 'How I Met Your Mother.' Might some of the audience not want to make that hyperspace leap?

NBC exec Jeff Gaspin said last month that he thought that there was room for both comedies since they cater to different audiences, a notion TV Squad's Joel Keller found dubious, since both shows display smart, pop-culture-obsessed geek appeal. If they are both fighting for the same viewers, smart money would favor the more established show with the higher Nielsen ratings, even if it is moving to an unfamiliar night.

Certainly, the move is a sign that NBC's rivals no longer see its Thursday comedy bloc as an impenetrable fortress. (CBS is also launching new comedy '$#*! My Dad Says' at 8:30, riding the coattails of 'Big Bang.') "The performance of [NBC's] comedies is not something that deterred us," CBS scheduling chief Kelly Kahl said in May. "People like those shows, but they're not setting the world on fire ratings-wise."

For his part, Harmon has spent much of the last three months discussing his mixture of dread and motivation at facing a show he likens to the Terminator. Talking to Vulture, he finally sounds more fired up than frightened. "You've got to love CBS for saying, 'Let's make Thursday nights about comedy again.' I agree. Let's do it," Harmon says. He adds, "I don't want to stay stagnant and do 1 out of 25 episodes that pushes that envelope. I want to do 20, 30 percent more."

•Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman.

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kpernic10

awesome. I love community AND paintball! Just got into paintball a few years ago thanks to airsplat.com. I was browsing the web and found a GREAT deal on piantball a gun there.

August 25 2010 at 7:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kpernic10

awesome. I love community AND paintball! Just got into paintball a few years ago thanks to airsplat.com. I was browsing the web and found a GREAT deal on piantball a gun there.

August 25 2010 at 7:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ricochet

I would watch Community over ANYTHING else on TV.

August 18 2010 at 5:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anneka

Last year I swore that I wouldn't be watching NBC because they canceled evey show I liked. Then Community came along and I only watched because I like Joel's show The Soup and I wanted to see him act. I stayed because it's a great show. Although I am a fan of TBBT, I will proudly be tuning in and watching Community with my friends, family, and anyone else I know.

August 18 2010 at 1:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Thor

I for one, love The Big Bang Theory. It's one of my favorite shows, it and How I Met Your Mother. It's unique to me and funny, and finally they've come up with something that's intelligent, and not the same old same old jokes that other sitcoms have. Personally, while I like Community a lot, too, I think that The Big Bang Theory is the much better show. I'm going to watch TBBT next year, but I will be recording Community because I like it, too. I'm not deciding to hate on one show because they're at the same time, I like both and I'm okay with admitting it.

Or maybe it's because I'm not scared that my favorite show's going to crash and burn because it's up against a mega hit. (Which I think is going to happen to Community. I don't want it to, and I really, really, really wish they had kept BBT on Mondays.)

August 17 2010 at 9:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hb.boyd

I totally agree with the following:

Chris, posted Aug 17th 2010
My wife and me both love both shows, but sadly TBBT has started to go down hill and im sorry it happened as soon as they got penny and leonard together it just went down hill....

The show started to suck BIG TIME the minute Penny hooked up with Leonard. Lame!

August 17 2010 at 3:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John From Raleigh

I know I will be watching Community first and maybe catching TBBT every once and awhile. Community is fresh and innovative. TBBT is classic sitcom.

And although, 30 Rock and be uneven I don't think I will be tuning in to S*** my dad says just for the occasional one liner.

August 17 2010 at 2:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JR

I watch both shows and both make me laugh. Why must networks have to have these face-offs? When networks do this dumb crap, I record both shows and watch something else on another tv at that time. Did the networks forget there are 4 major networks including cable?

August 17 2010 at 1:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chris

My wife and me both love both shows, but sadly TBBT has started to go down hill and im sorry it happened as soon as they got penny and leonard together it just went down hill, sheldon is the only reason we watch it now the others cud disappear and i wouldn't really mind.

Community on the other hand, is spectacular ahmed and troy are my favorites hands down, but the whole cast is great... and that paintball episode deserves to go down as one of the funniest well done episodes ever done, i soooo cant wait for the next season, and the fact taht its 5m vs 14m just goes to show that theirs atleast 9 million idiots

August 17 2010 at 11:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Chris's comment
Chris

forgot to mention, WTF is with networks "facing off for viewers" thats the reason i f*cking download every show and watch them on my own schedule commercial free, why???? because its their own fault! Why "square off competing shows" this is why network tv sucks so much they make it into a battle that just hurts the viewers that don't download or dual tivo channels.

August 17 2010 at 11:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mjsc

I disagree. TBBT went down hill when became a mix of "Sheldon Show" and "Two and Half Men".

August 20 2010 at 10:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
KD

I don't mind the big bang but it's a bit repetitive and is feeling kind of bored to me. Community iS the best comedy on tv. it's not negotiable. i'll be tivo-ing both... but community is #1 priority.

August 17 2010 at 10:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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