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Scott D. Pierce
Scott D. Pierce writes about television for the Salt Lake Tribune. Vice president of the Television Critics Associationn, he's covered TV in Utah since 1990.

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“Community” creator returns to show after he was fired

Beverly Hills, Calif. • Dan Harmon created the NBC sitcom "Community." He was the showrunner/executive producer through the series first three seasons - which received critical praise and developed a cult following, but suffered from low ratings.

At the end of three seasons, Harmon was fired by Sony, the studio that produces "Community," and NBC. And he had many unkind things to say about Sony and NBC.

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Season 4 of the sitcom, with new executive producers, did not turn into a hit. And the show’s fans pretty much universally agreed the show took a decided downturn in terms of quality.

So Sony and NBC rehired Harmon. And, after those unkind things he said, it surprised a lot of people that Harmon agreed to go back.

Harmon figures it’s a no-lose situation.

"If I hadn’t been invited back and not gone back, the worst case scenario is 30 years of wondering what would have happened if I had gone back," he said. "If I go back, the worst case scenario is one [crappy] season. Who cares?"

Harmon also pretty much admitted that he can be incredibly difficult to work with. Which is one of the reasons he was fired in the first place.

"I don’t politic," he said. "I would rather die than make bad stuff for people because I’m a terrible dishwasher and a terrible lover and a terrible pet owner, and I this is my only recourse to go to bed at night and feel like I did anything of merit.

"So that fills me with emotions that sometimes get expressed in ways that you may read about in third-hand blogs and stuff, but it also, I think, overall kind of allows me to fail upward."

And then he continued in a distinctly Dan Harmon-like vein.

"Honestly, like, I think thoughts in my head," he said. "They bounce around in my skull, and if they keep bouncing around in my skull, they get worse and worse. And when they come out of my mouth, they make people happy. When they’re taken out of context and put in a headline, they can get somebody a couple clicks on a Bacardi ad, and that’s a perfectly fine price to pay.

"The most important thing is that, when I’m going to bed at night, I don’t have this thing eating away at me. I say what is in my head, I’m on honest ground. And that is worth so much, and I think it does make my job as a writer, like, easier. It makes it possible for me to give people stuff that they like."

And what about all those studio and network executives he fought with so bitterly?

"I’m sure that they meant no harm and are really good people," Harmon said.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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