Is NBC’s Community Already Dead? Dan Harmon certainly acts like it is.

I went to see a live recording of the Nerdist podcast on Saturday night. As part of SF Sketchfest, Chris Hardwick brought co-hosts Jonah Ray and Matt Mira to San Francisco for about an hour of stand-up comedy ahead of a podcast interview with Dan Harmon, creator of NBC’s show Community. It was my second Nerdist show, and I’ve been a fan of the podcast since early last year. It was the Nerdist, and Matt Mira in particular, that inspired me to read The 4-Hour Body and to start losing weight, so when I met Chris and Matt after the show I had a chance to thank them for that in person.


The stand-up was good, but underappreciated by Harmon who, “blind drunk” (as he repeatedly described himself), kept up a running show of genuine or exaggerated pique at being kept waiting in the wings for three hours with nothing to do but drink. (He arrived two hours before showtime, at a Nerdist staffer’s request, he said.) He was funny, and we laughed along with him quite a lot as he aped doing stand-up bits, starting with premises like going to the post office, but returning again and again to a “this is how white people do this….this is how black people do this” joke about jokes. Delivered sober, I’d have appreciated this, but delivered drunk it didn’t work the eighth time in a row Harmon brought it out. He couldn’t keep it good-natured enough, allowing cynicism to lead him around by the nose. Chris Hardwick, sober for nine years now, tried to keep the interview moving along, but I couldn’t help wondering if he saw his former alcoholic self a little in Harmon’s spiraling performance. No doubt he wanted to keep everything light, so he never really tried to reign his guest in, but this meant Harmon ran roughshod over the panel. As I said, he was funny, so it wasn’t a waste of anyone’s time, but I’m sure it wasn’t how anyone had expected the interview with Very Special Guest Dan Harmon was going to go.

It wasn’t all Harmon being his own Drunk Hulk, though, since of course he was able to answer some questions about the business of writing pilots, putting on a show, why he would never go back to writing features (because in TV the writer is the king, while in features the writer is a cog), and about Inspector Spacetime, the Doctor Who parody that appears on Community on occasion and who has become a nerd icon in his own right. But while fielding questions about Community, Harmon’s inebriated honesty may have gotten the better of him: He seemed overwhelmingly cynical about the future of the show.

Is Community going to be cancelled?

Nobody asked that question. And Harmon never said anything specific. But his attitude about the likelihood of doing such-and-such with Abed, or casting Chris Hardwick as a regenerated Inspector Spacetime, was very negative, as though he had already written off Community’s future.

Admittedly, the conversation was loose and rambling. His addled brain may have been seeing the world much more darkly than realistically, and so that may have been infecting his attitude as he spoke about the show. Or, he may have been more honest about the show’s future than he would have been had he gone on stage completely sober.

Dan Harmon was embarrassed by what went on, and on Sunday morning he apologized to Chris, Matt, Jonah, San Francisco, America, Comedy and Erin McGathy.

I don’t want to give the impression that Dan Harmon spoiled the show in any way. In fact, I think much of the crowd enjoyed bearing witness to it. I know I laughed a lot, even if it was with increasing discomfort every time he pulled out his “white people/black people” meta-joke. I want Community to be on the air for years, but I’m afraid that I what I saw on Saturday night was a show creator already in mourning.

I’m Going to Change My Name to BusyDad, Because I’ve Been So Busy

I’ve done a crazy amount of writing this week. You probably didn’t read it, because I just kept posting, posting, posting. I was also linking, linking, linking. It was annoying, oying, oying.

In case you missed/ignored/disbelieved what I claimed to be up to, here is a list-style post about my online activities this week.

First, here on this blog where I blog things:

  1. I cleared my entire backlog of Backpacking Dad’s Overdue Reviews posts, finally reviewing a pillow, a face-washing thing, and a back massager. I have none left. My conscience is now cleanish.
  2. I finally wrote about a trip I took to Chicago, where I got to play with power tools. I also let a home improvement dude give you home improvement tips. Again…cleanish.
  3. I dad-blogged, and felt good about it.
  4. I tried to imagine what Buffy would have been like with an alternate cast.
  5. I got a very nerdy new backpack.

Second, I got a new job blogging at Babble, because I don’t have enough writing to do (*cough* dissertation *cough*). I call it “Parenting Off the Map, with Backpacking Dad”, and this week:

  1. I told you to make your kids feel stupid.
  2. I told you that front-carriers are totally un-sexy.

Third, I started Stumbling things on StumbleUpon.

  1. If you already follow me on Twitter, you have seen many of my Stumbly links. However, I’m going to try not to send every single one to Twitter, because that is super-annoying. If you want to follow me on StumbleUpon, I can be found here.
  2. I will be Stumbling my own posts there too, because that’s not lame. It’s not. It’s not. Dude, it’s not. (Now it just sounds like I’m saying “It’s snot” over and over.)

Fourth, I have new Internet addictions:

  1. Bandwagon, a web-series with Emma Caulfield (you may know her as “Anya” from Buffy).
  2. Kingdom Rush, a web-game that has you placing towers along paths to defend your territory against invaders. I can’t stop.
  3. Sword and Laser, a podcast with Veronica Belmont in which many science fiction and fantasy things are discussed, in obsessive depth.

I’ve also been out of the house on several occasions this week. I’ve been trying to install a sliding screen door, which has of course turned into three separate trips to the hardware store because a) They don’t have one b) They have one but it’s too tall for the opening c) They have another one that claims to be short enough for the opening but is a god damned liar.

We went to a park in Los Gatos that has a steam train you can ride, and a carousel. And we played frisbee in a field where the geese had just been. You could tell they had just been there because of all the green poo.

Today, I wore Adrian in the backpack while we went to the farmer’s/farmers/famers’ market. He’s not too heavy. He’s not too big. I’m not done yet.

We’ve been getting a lot of cucumbers and cherry tomatoes from the planters we have in the backyard (and we ate all the peaches and I made no peach jam this year). Cucumbers, we believe, are better on sandwiches than lettuce. Stop using lettuce. Switch to sliced cucumbers.

So…how’s you?


The Buffy That Might Have Been

If you are any kind of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, you probably know that Sarah Michelle Gellar wasn’t originally cast as Buffy: She landed the role of Cordelia Chase, the role Charisma Carpenter eventually secured (after herself auditioning for the part of Buffy). Things eventually turned out the way things do, and the result was the lineup we’re all familiar with (I’m just assuming you all love Buffy and you watch it every night like I do. That’s not weird. Is it? Emily is watching it too!)

But what if…

What if Sarah Michelle Gellar hadn’t been Buffy? Moreover, what if the casting decisions for the entire show had been sucked into the Twilight Zone? You can never really trust Wikipedia, but if it’s anything close to accurate in this case, we might very well have seen this version of Buffy instead.


Julie_Benz Julie Benz as Buffy: It’s hard to reconcile her spritely evilness as Darla, and broken sincerity as Rita in Dexter, with Buffy’s burdened innocence.

But…yeah, I would have watched this show.

Also, you’re welcome, guys.


Riff_Regan Riff Regan as Willow: “What?” you might ask. But Alyson Hannigan was not even originally cast as Willow. In the unaired pilot, that role was played by Riff Regan, an actress with a regular role on “Sisters”.

I’ve seen the pilot, and Riff does a fine job as Willow. I don’t know if she could have pulled off Willow’s development in later seasons, but it’s not crazy that she was picked first.


Bianca_Lawson Bianca Lawson as Cordelia: Between Sarah Michelle Gellar landing the role, and Charisma Carpenter ending the search, Bianca Lawson auditioned for the part of Cordelia Chase.

Who is Bianca Lawson? Oh, maybe you didn’t recognize her without her Caribbean accent. That’s Kendra the Vampire Slayer.

The way she was made up in the Kendra role makes me think “No way could she have played Cordelia”, but the glamour shot to the left here makes me wonder.


Nathan_Fillion Nathan Fillion as Angel: I don’t know if I can believe him with anything other than an old-timey southern accent (Mal, Caleb), but since he’s actually Canadian I have to think those accents were affected.

In any event, he could not do a worse fake Irish accent than David Boreanaz did in the early seasons of Buffy.

Also, you’re welcome, ladies.



Alexis_Denisof Alexis Denisof as Giles: Actually, I don’t know if Alexis ever auditioned for the role of Giles. But since his character, Wesley Windham Price, is basically Giles but a little younger, it’s not too difficult to see him in the role.



Ryan_Reynolds Ryan Reynolds as Xander: The second Canadian actor with a giant career who might have been in the original Buffy cast, I wonder if Ryan wishes he’d gotten the part.

Also, again, you’re welcome, ladies.

And, yeah, you’re also welcome, guys. It’s okay to admit your man-crush on Ryan Reynolds now.


I’m sure Buffy fans are perfectly happy with the way the show eventually turned out.

But oh, what might have been.

(Editor’s Note: I’ve decided I’m going to be a little more unrestrained about the nerdy/geeky things I like, and share or talk about them here. I never shut up about them on Twitter anyway.)