I suspect a lot of folks are going to be quite upset by the news that Community‘s being put on hiatus, along with Prime Suspect, though both shows are supposed to return to the air. I don’t think it’s particularly surprising that either show is taking a break — given NBC’s failures in the early going, it was inevitable that things would get moved around to make space for some of the shows the network has yet to try out, like The Firm and Smash. And I tend to agree with Todd VanDerWerff that this probably doesn’t mean anything particularly new or different for Community‘s chances of a renewal. More to the point, though, the tenuous status of the show seems to make the case for more single-season shows or shows with a defined number of seasons from the beginning. Even if something like Community could have gone on forever, it does seem like it could be a fairly neat four-season story, and that treating it that way from the beginning could have made it seem less like a low-rated risk and more like a contained, wildly innovative project.
And honestly, though I love Community, I’m just as sorry that Prime Suspect is gone, and seems less likely to come back. I was skeptical of the show the entire time it was in development, and I was wrong. It’s a smart, funny, serious procedural that’s also found a way to be consistently intelligent about workplace sexism, at a time when sexual harassment has become an issue in the presidential campaign and sexual assault allegations at Penn State have become a national scandal. At a time when the Law & Order franchise has been winking out, it would have been wonderful to see a modern, intelligent cop show, especially one that’s as well-acted as it is by Maria Bello, Peter Gerety, Kirk Acevedo, and Tim Griffin. In a fall full of exasperating girl-children, Jane Timoney’s the most exciting woman on network television. We should root for both shows, one for experimenting wildly with genre, one for sticking to form and elevating it.