Few comedies on television have gone through as much drama as Community has, but the future is looking pretty damn bright. NBC has renewed the show for a fourth season, Chevy Chase - who was at the center of many of the series’ behind the scenes problems – has graduated and moved on, and (most importantly) creator Dan Harmon is back as showrunner. And with any luck all of that positive energy will help fuel an awesome panel at this year’s San Diego Comic Con.
Supernatural, Breaking Bad and Doctor Who have all had their turns, but now it’s Community’s turn to bask in the fan love that is currently filling every single inch of the San Diego Convention Center’s Hall H. The lineup is stacked with names like Dan Harmon, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Brie, Jim Rash, Ken Jeong, producer Chris McKenna, so we should be in for a good time. Keep refreshing this page for up to the minute updates about all the action!
2:04 p.m.: Time for Hall H to head to Greendale! The panel begins with a video celebrating the fans!
2:09 p.m.: Dan Harmon emerges wearing his own suit of homemade Iron Man armor! And Jim Rash and Danny Pudi are on stage to help him take it off! Our showrunner is back!
2:09 p.m.: “Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of unemployment!” – Dan Harmon. Syndication money! This entire speech is a riff on the opening of Iron Man 2, and it is amazing.
2:10 p.m.: Video of “Howard Harmon” aka Joel McHale on the big screen tells us how we all can create #sixseasonsandamovie
2:11 p.m.: Jim Rash! Yvette Nicole Brown! Alison Brie! Ken Jeong! Danny Pudi! Gillian Jacobs! Chris McKenna! Dan Harmon! All on stage!
2:13 p.m.: Harmon means that new levels of anxiety are bound to trickle into the show, and feels like he’s under an incredible amount of pressure going away and coming back. He wants that sixth season, but calls the fifth season the 13 most important episodes of the show. All of his plans from season four are out the window and he’s ready for the most fun we’ve ever had!
2:15 p.m.: We’re getting an animated episode this season! Harmon says that they want to get back to the season one/two feel and just knock it out the park.
2:15 p.m.: Gillian Jacobs says that she has lived in a world of uncertainty and on the edge of cancellation, but has gotte’ n used to it.
2:15 p.m.: Pudi says that Abed is no longer alone. He’s thrilled to see 8-bit t-shits and Inspector Spacetime costumes. He’s still shocked that they’re still here, and that finds its way into the show.
2:17 p.m.: Ken Jeong is still a licensed doctor in California – and adds that he still has the ability to write prescriptions. Talking about his favorite fan interaction, he recounts being in Toronto for The Hangover Part III and getting more love for Chang than for Chow.
2:18 p.m.: Alison Brie has loved watching Annie evolve over the last few seasons. She says it’s interesting working on a show where you are constantly getting new info about your character. You can learn something about their past and it adds a whole new universe for them. She’s just excited for what Dan is going to do.
2:21 p.m.: Yvette Nicole Brown says that fanhood for anything, not just Community is no small thing and she is insanely grateful. She also recently saw her first Shirley cosplay! Albeit it was from the darkest timeline with a liquor bottle…
2:22 p.m.: Jim Rash recently heard that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt found his mocking pose at the Oscars to be “amusing.” He says that in writing the body switching episode from the last season that he was trying to match the voice of writers like Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna and says it was an honor to be a part of it.
2:24 p.m.: Dan Harmon says that the writer’s room is different now because they are only doing 13 episodes. They are breaking all of the stories first so that they know what they are doing first. They have a couple blank spots in the slate called “normal episode” but there isn’t a full script for the first episode yet. They have several outlines and expect a script in three weeks.
2:25 p.m.: Harmon says that the first couple episodes are described as a rescue dog that pees itself whenever it hears lighting. They will be about the characters and getting back to a place where you are building on the characters. The first couple are about making it feel like these characters live down the street. “Get ready for grounded story work! Who likes they’re characters dimensionalized?!” Everything Comic-Con crowds want to hear.
2:26 p.m.: Harmon admits that Annie was originally a Tracy Flick ripoff that changed when Alison Brie took on the role. Britta is an amalgam of ex-girlfriends along with his own politics. Abed is just all parts of him. Chang is that guy from The Hangover. The Dean is the guy who represents every secret that we all have that we think we will be made fun of for.
2:29 p.m.: Harmon says that that Comic-Con crowds are his Levar Burton: he can only disappoint us.
2:30 p.m.: Community is also coming to syndication soon! Danny and Gillian are weirdly playing out a bit of a skit to announce it. This September on Comedy Central! And five nights a week on a local station! Go to www.CommunityOnTV.com to find the channel in your market!
2:32 p.m.: And now we’re going to watch a special gag reel from season four!
2:36 p.m.: Audience question time!
2:37 p.m.: Favorite bit of fan reaction? Yvette Nicole Brown loves Russian nesting dolls that were at the Community Art Show in Los Angeles last year. Dan Harmon loves the music videos, which tend to make him cry.
2:38 p.m.: Starburns is at the microphone! “First off ‘Hashtag #UnFuckSony’” He calls Magnatude “Meltatude.” And he pitches a graphic novel that he’s written. Dan Harmon asks if is Starburns alive and coming back. “That’s up to the writers!” Starburns is now a full time writer on the show too!
2:39 p.m.: Favorite moments from the show? Yvette: Law and Order and Puppets. Jim: Remedial Chaos Theory. Danny: Being a vampire to approach a woman, My Dinner With Andre. Allison: Conversation with Troy in the season two episode when Troy has his 21st birthday. Ken: Paintball, because he got to be Chow Yun Fat. Gillian: the clip show episode.
2:41 p.m.: Dan Harmon says that he and Chris McKenna are now partners and that this is the dream version of the writing staff. Chris says that he was a fan of the episode first and then got to be a part of it. His favorite episode, though, is Dungeons and Dragons.
2:43 p.m.: Dungeons and Dragons 2 coming in season five! Right now it’s one of the blank spots on the whiteboard of the upcoming season.
2:44 p.m.: How is the misfortune of the show in real life getting into the show? Harmon says that with every bit of hardship they feel they are getting funnier. ”Bring it on! Bring on the nutkicks!”
2:45 p.m.: Dan Harmon says that he won’t be undoing anything that was done in the last season. He apologizes for his comments about season four, and says that fans of Community don’t have to be fans of him. “I’m a creepy jerk.”
2:47 p.m.: Harmon says that Chang is the Gollum in the world of Community – but will he be part of the group in the next season? Harmon says that it’s been hit and miss with Chang as he has been moved around, but he will definitely be back in a big way next season.
2:49 p.m.: What is your favorite set from the show? Dan Harmon says that he loved it when Chevy Chase was spying on Brita and Subway in season three, which he says was a riff on Gene Hackman in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Coversation. He also says that the bulletin boards in all of the hallways are regularly filled with fun craziness. Danny Pudi says it was a blast to do the pillow fort and blanket forts.
2:53 p.m.: Danny tells a story about a time in the bathroom where a fan and him were at a urinal and the fan tried to shake his hand. While Danny was hesitant at first, the fan said, “Don’t worry, I haven’t touched my penis yet.”
2:54 p.m.: Last question! What do the actors want the characters to face? Jim Rash says he wants to learn about a new fascination like the Dalmatians and other obsessions in previous seasons. Yvette Nicole Brown wants Shirley to meet her sister (and wants Sherri Shepherd for the part). Allison Brie wants Annie to be empowered in some way – she wants to find ambition again and go with it. Ken Jeong says that he is willing to do anything that Dan Harmon wants him to do. Danny Pudi wants Abd to learn that Jamie Lee Curtis is his mom – but more seriously he just wants to be surprised.
2:59 p.m.: And now Alison Brie is giving Danny Pudi a wet willy for some reason…
3:00 p.m.: And that’s a wrap on the Community panel!