NBC and Sony have sent a cease and desist letter to Travis Richley, the producer, co-writer, and star of the upcoming web-series Inspector Spacetime.
NBC’s problem with the show? Inspector Spacetime, which is a clear parody of the BBC’s Doctor Who, was actually created for the network’s popular situation comedy program, Community. The fictional show appears a few times in various episodes as something the characters watch on television, and Community’s producers filmed the Inspector Spacetime sequences for this purpose. Richley, a self-professed fan of both Community and Doctor Who, was cast in the role of the little seen character.
Here’s a clip:
Richley was enamored with the parody, and wished to do more than just a few brief clips of the fake show. Having no luck with convincing the network to make the parody into a web-series, he decided to start up a kickstarter project to get the funds to do it alone.
That made NBC’s lawyers pay attention. Richley posted this on his kickstarter page:
Lawyers from Sony and NBC have contacted me demanding that I cease production on an Inspector Spacetime web series.
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.” 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. So, I will be removing all references to Inspector Spacetime from this series (it only happened in the title anyway), and altering the appearance of the Inspector so that he does not look like Inspector Spacetime. What remains is 100% the creation of myself, my writing partner, and you, the fans.
If you would still be [interested] in seeing the series that would have been Inspector Spacetime, I appreciate your support.
He also added this paragraph to the end of his existing project description, “If it wasn’t clear; NBC, Sony, and the Community production team have nothing to do with this web series, which is NOT Inspector Spacetime. It is entirely fan produced. With your help.”
The project, now called Untitled Web Series About a Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time, has earned over $13k in the first two days, and has 29 days to raise another $7k to make the project work.