With the possible exception of Trekkies, there is no geekier group of TV fans than those who love both NBC’s Community and Britain’s ridiculously long-running sci-fi series Doctor Who. So, when Community‘s resident pop-culture obsessive, Abed, fell hard for Inspector Spacetime, an obvious parody of the BBC show, it was inevitable that some of those folks would take the idea and run with it. Sure enough, a fan named Travis Richey was inspired to produce an entire Inspector Spacetime web series and took to Kickstarter to fund the project.
Unfortunately for Richey, NBC was not amused by this appropriation of their intellectual property (which was pretty much taken wholesale from Doctor Who, but whatever, they made up the name). Around the time that he reached the halfway point to his $20,000 goal, he received a cease-and-desist letter from the network’s lawyers and has now posted a very sweet and sad statement. “Though I firmly believe the law would be on my side in producing this parody, I have no wish or ability to fight a show that I love as much as Community,” Richey writes. “I had hoped that they would embrace what is essentially a fan film and appreciate the value it adds to the character, and the audience that we would bring who are finding Community for the first time through this character, but alas, that’s not the case.” He intends to go forward with the project, but he’s changed the title on Kickstarter to “Untitled Webseries About a Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time.”
The Mary Sue points out that NBC’s litigiousness must have something to do with its interest in doing more with Inspector Spacetime. But if so, it seems like the network behind Community — a highly fan-dependent show whose future is still hanging in the balance — could have handled this more gracefully. Why not step in and offer Richey more resources and a skilled crew to make the web series as an official NBC product?