All hail the power of fandom. From the moment "Community" first introduced "Inspector Spacetime" (a show-within-the-show parody of "Doctor Who") in the Season 3 premiere, the hilarious exploits of The Inspector and Constable Reggie seemingly struck a chord with the comedy's loyal fanbase just as much as they did with Abed (Danny Pudi) and Troy (Donald Glover) on the show.
"Community" fans are a creative and anarchic bunch (just like the series itself), and much like the astounding -- and playable -- reproduction of the "Journey to the Center of Hawkthorne" game featured in "Digital Estate Planning," the show's enthusiasts soon started developing their own fictional history for the character and his long-running series.
Even Inspector Spacetime himself, actor Travis Richey, got in on the act, and reportedly attempted to produce a webseries based on the character through NBC's official channels, as a kind of Easter Egg for loyal "Community" fans. Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, those efforts proved fruitless. Per Richey's Kickstarter page:
"After my first scene of Inspector Spacetime was shot for Community, I instantly saw the potential for the character, and set about creating this web series with my writing partner. And it turned out pretty damn awesome. I thought it would be a great idea to take it with me if I ever got to do another episode, give it to the folks at Community and say, "You guys should make a web series of this, and by the way, here's a script!"
Turns out that Hollywood doesn't work quite that way... It had to be pitched through official channels. So my agent pitched it. Even then, I didn't hear anything."
After receiving no response from Sony, NBC or "Community's" producers about the script they pitched, Richey and his team launched a Kickstarter campaign as "Inspector Spacetime: The Web Series" to try and fund the project themselves. This was after the conclusion of Season 3 of "Community," when the future of the series was still uncertain.
Update: An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated that Richey received a cease and desist order from Sony -- as cited here -- and was unclear about the exact sequence of events leading to the fundraiser. Richey kindly emailed to clarify the timeline, which we have reproduced below.
It was 9 days into fundraising, when it was clear we were going to make our goal, that I got that call from a Sony lawyer demanding that we cancel the production. There was never a cease and desist. Never anything official from Sony or NBC in relation to the web series. Just a phone call.
I just want people to know that I simply wasn't willing to fight with one of my favorite shows to make this. Yet, at the same time, it was a project that hundreds of people were willing to pay for to see made, so I figured it should be. And other than the costume and the title (and omission of Constable Reggie and the Blorgons), we didn't change anything about our original script. I also don't want it to seem like I got a court order and then was like, "Cease and Desist? Eff you, I'm going to Kickstarter!"
Richey renamed the project "Untitled Webseries About A Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time," which admittedly has a certain ring to it. The webseries reached its goal back in April, and best of all, Richey and his team are doing this wholly for the love of the concept: "No one will make one dime off the finished product. We won't be selling DVD's or merchandise. There won't even be ads on the Youtube videos. We're making this show because I know fans want to see it. I know, because I'm one of them," he wrote on the show's Kickstarter page.
Now, the webisodes are finally being produced, with the first episode already posted to YouTube and the second to be released on Sept. 17. From what we've seen so far, the series is handsomely produced (especially considering its budget) and every bit as hilarious as the totally unrelated but tonally similar character featured on "Community." Check out the first installment below, and visit the "UWAASTWCATTT" Kickstarter and Facebook pages to learn more about the project. You can also check out a recent interview with Richey for more on how the series came about.
"Community" returns Friday, October 19 at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC.