There was more than a little head-scratching when NBC’s brilliant but under-watched sitcom Community was nominated for a Hugo earlier this year. Others can argue whether the episode in question, “Remedial Chaos Theory” – which played around with the concept of divergent timelines – should count as science fiction or not. What is beyond debate, however, is that Community‘s writers have shown plenty of love for both science fiction and its fandom. The show has even created its own meta mythology that includes horrible sci-fi movies (Kickpuncher) and a Bizarro version of Doctor Who called Inspector Spacetime: a bowler-hatted adventurer who travels through time and space inside a phone box. And according to one of the show’s producers at Comic-Con last week, Community will be taking us even further down the Inspector Spacetime rabbit hole next season with an episode set inside an Inspector Spacetime convention.
That tidbit was dropped by Community producer David Guarascio, according to io9. Further exploration of Inspector Spacetime is pretty much inevitable; while Community has devoted a comparably small amount of time to the Inspector, fans of the show have taken that ball and run it deep. A cursory Google search unearths mountains of fan-created backstory, including a list of the various actors who have – in true Doctor Who fashion – played the Inspector over the years. (For the record, the list includes Christopher Lee, Stephen Fry, and Steve Carell.)
That level of devotion isn’t lost on the folks behind Community. Writer Megan Ganz explained how the fans were making Inspector Spacetime their own right from the start:
When we aired that first 20 second clip, we said Blorgons in it, and the next morning we saw pages and pages of what people had written about the backstory of Inspector Spacetime, and they wrote ‘Blogons’ in it. The guy who played Inspector Spacetime told them, ‘No, it’s Blorgons,’ and they went through and changed it! That’s why we made a Blorgons joke [in a later episode].
The big question that only time will tell: whether Community will survive the transition to new showrunners and the loss of creator Dan Harmon. I’m pulling for them, but I’m also prepared for a disaster of a magnitude that not even Inspector Spacetime himself could repair.