A Harmenian Remembers ‘Harmontown’

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CREDIT: Harmontown/YouTube Screenshot

(I really wish Rob Schrab could edit this essay, because otherwise I’ll have to self-Schrab* myself. And that’s just not good form.)

I wanted to write a remembrance about Harmontown when it released its final episode back in December, but you know what? I’m glad it’s taken me a few months to finally get around to it. It’s nice to have time to reflect.

After Dan Harmon was fired as Community showrunner post-season 3, he doubled down on the live show he was co-hosting with his good buddy Jeff Davis at the NerdMelt Showroom by turning it into a podcast. Apparently Harmontown began with Dan and Jeff brainstorming how to create a utopian lunar colony, a premise that occasionally poked its head back out in later episodes and made me go, “Huh. That’s funny.” I didn’t listen when it first came out; in fact, I was barely aware of it. My podcast listening was still in a novice stage at that point, as opposed to now when I’m pounding away about four hours of audio content per day. Anyway, in May 2013, some random website (that probably doesn’t exist anymore) reported that Dan had been rehired as Community showrunner after he announced it at Harmontown. So I listened to that episode just to confirm that report, and then I just felt compelled to keep listening, because it was plainly enjoyable to regularly check in with the brain behind my favorite show of all time.

Initially for me, there was a specific purpose behind listening to Harmontown, i.e., to discover some juicy behind-the-scenes info about Community. But eventually it just became a part of my regular schedule. “Oh, it’s the middle of the week? Time to listen to Harmontown,” my reflexes learned to say. After Community was cancelled, and then cancelled again, and Harmontown continued onward, it got to the point where I almost took it for granted. There are certain titans of podcasting that have been around for a while, and Harmontown felt like one of the ones that would truly last forever.

In many ways, Harmontown amounted to a public therapy session for its host, and like a lot of therapy, it went to some dark places and also had its moments of catharsis. Through the good times and the bad, I never once considered giving it up. A Harmontown listening session had the same emotional effect as regularly checking in with a close friend. When it was announced that it was ending, it didn’t quite feel like I was losing a friend, but it was like I was no longer going to have a weekly phone call with that buddy. So I wondered what recovering from that hole in my heart would be like. Sure, I would be able to spend my time listening to plenty of other podcasts, some of which I love just as much as Harmontown. But I didn’t have quite the same connection to any of them.

I generally have a resilient personality, so I was never too worried that I would totally despair over this loss. But I’m also happy to report that in the months since, the end of Harmontown has felt right. It ended on its own terms, with Dan able to let us know that he was departing in a good place. Meanwhile, The Darkest Timeline, the podcast co-hosted by Ken Jeong and Joel McHale, has arrived to help me scratch a similar itch. If by some chance you happen to be reading this, Dan Harmon, know that I’m doing well and I cherish my podcast friendship with your podcast self.

(“It’s called Schrabbing.” “And the kids love it.”)

Community’s Ten Best Episodes: Ten-Year Anniversary Edition

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CREDIT: NBC

Community, my favorite TV show of all time, premiered on NBC ten years ago, September 17, 2009. So it’s a pretty good time to do some episode rankings. Below, I have selected the ten best outings in the show’s six-season run. I would like to rank all 110 episodes at some point in the future, but that is quite a project. For now, ten will do. (But stay tuned.)

1. “Remedial Chaos Theory” – Knowledge of timelines deepens friendship.
2. “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” – The future looks cyclical, in a comforting way.
3 “Cooperative Calligraphy” – A bottle episode at breakneck wit and speed.
4. “Virtual Systems Analysis” – Experimentalism at full emotional depth.
5. “Paradigms of Human Memory” – The ultimate in expense-adding clip shows.
6. “Critical Film Studies” – As fulfilling as two ants getting down to brass tacks.
7. “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design” – The reveals spill out with equal parts full logic and full nonsense.
8. “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” – The meaning of Community episodes is that we find meaning in them.
9. “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” – The power of the mind is truly remarkable.
10. “Debate 109” – Character dynamics calcify and influence so much of what is to come.

Links to Dan Harmon’s Season 6 Communitary

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I still haven’t re-watched every Community Season 6 episode with the addition of Dan Harmon’s commentary tracks, so I decided to make a post with some handy-dandy links for easy access.

1. “Ladders
2. “Lawnmower Maintenance and Postnatal Care
3. “Basic Crisis Room Decorum
4. “Queer Studies and Advanced Waxing
5. “Laws of Robotics and Party Rights
6. “Basic Email Security
7. “Advanced Safety Features
8. “Intro to Recycled Cinema
9. “Grifting 101
10. “Basic RV Repair and Palmistry
11. “Modern Espionage
12. “Wedding Videography
13. “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television

2015 Emmy Nominations Predictions and Wishlist

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For my detailed thoughts on my predictions and wishlists in the major Drama, Comedy, and Variety categories, check out these links:
Comedy
Drama
Variety

Guest Actor, Comedy
John Hawkes, Inside Amy Schumer
Michael Rapaport, Louie
Chris Gethard, Parks and Recreation
Dwayne Johnson, Saturday Night Live

Guest Actress, Comedy
Susie Essman, Broad City

Guest Actor, Drama
Mel Rodriguez, Better Call Saul

Guest Actress, Drama
Allison Janney, Masters of Sex
Linda Lavin, The Good Wife

Directing, Comedy
Rob Schrab, “Modern Espionage,” Community

Directing, Drama
Adam Arkin, “The Promise,” Justified

Writing, Comedy
Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna, “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television,” Community

Writng, Drama
Thomas Schnauz, “Pimento,” Better Call Saul

Animated Program
Bojack Horseman – “Downer Ending”
American Dad! – “Dreaming of a White Porsche Christmas”
The Simpsons – “Treehouse of Horror XXV”

Commercial
Android – “Friends Furever”

Host – Reality/Reality Competition
RuPaul, “RuPaul’s Drag Race”

Interactive Program
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Main Title Design
Man Seeking Woman

Single-Camera Picture Editing, Comedy
Bojack Horseman – “Downer Ending”

Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program
Too Many Cooks
Billy On The Street With First Lady Michelle Obama, Big Bird And Elena!!!

Stunt Coordination for a Comedy Series or a Variety Program
Community

Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role
Man Seeking Woman – “Traib”