Our 2018 road trip is behind us at last. After seven days and 2,056 miles together on the open road, Anne and I arrived safe at home Friday night, several hours later than expected and ready to retreat into overnight catatonia. Five out of six previous evenings ended much the same way — with a number of new achievements to our credit, new memories to add to our mental slideshows, new regrets to tally up, new aches and pains to nurse, and new letdowns from the unchecked items on our lengthy to-do list. In some ways that’s a typical vacation for the two of us, but what stings most are a few omissions that weren’t our fault.
The big television event is here! Except not on television. At last, the fabled meta-sitcom Community returned tonight with the first two all-new episodes of its sixth season, but not on NBC anymore. Instead, in what I hope was a self-aware feat of ironic self-handicapping, the show has relocated to Yahoo! Screen, which spent the past ninety minutes of my life acting like RealPlayer used to in the ’90s, except larger and hopefully with a little less spyware. Yahoo!’s entry into the internet streaming competition didn’t fare well in the test sessions I’d performed prior to tonight, but I wanted to persevere anyway for the sake of the show that’s produced four of the funniest seasons of TV ever.
I took performance notes during the experience for posterity and as an outlet for my disappointment. With the streaming results, I mean, not with the actual show.
My wife and I are now at home recuperating after spending the last two days at Wizard World Chicago. As usual it was a whirlwind cavalcade of comics, costumes, actors, fans, merchandise, art, commerce, geek glee, exhaustion, frustration, and disappointment. All of those elements, for better or worse, are unavoidable in the average convention experience. Some pleasures make us giddier than others; some situations grieve us more than others.
To its credit, we’re not knee-jerk Wizard World haters. For all the flak they draw online for a variety of reasons, they get a lot of things right that other fledgling convention companies take years to figure out. We’ve personally attended conventions where management was poor, tempers were boiling, and mutinies were nigh and not entirely unjustified. We’ve heard still other horror stores from other Midwest cons. Numerous entertainment companies are out there competing for the chance to become the San Diego of the American heartland. Wizard World is not in last place.
As expected, MCC will be providing you, the Viewers at Home, with copious photos from our Wizard World Chicago 2014 experience over the next few days, though I honestly have no idea how many entries in all. I haven’t yet uploaded my pics or looked at my wife’s as of the moment I’m typing this sentence, and we still have a Doctor Who season premiere to watch On Demand. Also, there are adult, non-internet chores begging for my attention. I’m pretty sure some of you will be pleased with the results, even though we skipped the costume contest. We had our reasons, some of them logistical.
In general, this weekend was successful on a number of levels for us. But not on every level. Pictured here are Exhibits A and B for the prosecution — the front of one card, and the front and back of another. Together these limited-edition artifacts cost us $40.00 to bring home unredeemed.
I’ve tried to watch the fourth season of Community with an open mind. I promise I have. I wanted the privilege of cheering it on as it defied the cliché of the TV series that falters after the departure of its creator. I wanted to witness a strong group collaboration surviving the loss of a single participant, no matter how integral he was. I wanted to see a show continue defying convention and seeking eccentric storytelling methods within the corporate IP context. I wanted more of the same Community whose first three seasons had repeatedly surprised and outsmarted me.
Perhaps I wanted too much. Perhaps I wanted all the wrong things. All I know for sure is that I didn’t want an ordinary sitcom. With each passing week the evidence keeps pointing in that disappointing direction, no matter how hard I wish for the opposite.