San Diego Comic-Con – Community Panel

Communitys SDCC panel took place Sunday afternoon, and featured guests Jim Rash (“Dean Pelton”), Yvette Nicole-Brown (“Shirley Bennett”), Alison Brie (“Annie Edison”), Ken Jeong (“Ben Chang”), Danny Pudi (“Abed Nadir”), Gillian Jacobs (“Britta Perry”), Chris McKenna (writer) and Dan Harmon (creator, writer). The panel was run first with questions from moderator Chris Hardwick, then took fan questions from the audience.

  • Dan feels an enormous amount of pressure to “make these thirteen count” after being brought back to the show; he considers them the “most important thirteen.”
  • There will be an entirely animated episode in season 5. Beyond that, Dan is tight-lipped about upcoming episodes.
  • Gillian admits she’s never felt secure about the future of the show, but that, having never had a secure regular TV job before, there’s no change.
  • Ken’s favourite fan interaction was in Toronto, during promotion for Hangover 3, where he was greeted by more Community fans than Hangover fans.
  • Alison says Annie’s character development, “maturing and then devolving into an immature woman again” has been interesting. One of the challenges of TV is constantly being given new information about your character that you previously didn’t have access to and may change how you play them.
  • Yvette describes fan interaction as “a wall of love,” and gives a shout-out to the first Shirley cosplay she’s seen.
  • Jim discusses writing the body-swap episode in s4. It was a “loving homage” to the show.
  • Dan says the writer’s room is taking a different approach this year: no full scripts written yet, but several detailed outlines are already completed. He compares the show to “a rescue dog that pees itself when there’s lightning; it’s been through a lot.” The first few episodes will be about the characters and focus on Greendale, suggesting the first few won’t be genre episodes.
  • Discussing the importance of the characters to him, Dan says: Annie was a rip-off of Tracy Flake from Election until Alison Brie started playing her; Britta is an amalgam of a lot of ex-girlfriends, but her politics are his; Abed is “a lot of parts of me”; Ken is “the guy from The Hangover“; Shirley is the part of him that is outspoken and idealistic, and he hints that in season 5 she may get in trouble for that; the Dean is “everything that you think should be a secret,” but he has “started unfurling and is being rewarded for it.”Community SDCC13 Brie & Jeong
  • Community will be on syndication. Gillian and Danny do a purposely-robotic informative sketch about syndication. Community reruns will air on Fridays from 9-11 on Comedy central, and nightly on many local stations.  Check for information on local listings.
  • After a gag reel (for panel attendees only), the panel takes fan questions.
  • Favourite fan art or fan creation? Yvette picks nesting dolls. Dan picks fan videos.
  • The second “fan” turns out to be Dino Stamatopoulos, also known as Star-Burns. His “question” is more a strange series of meandering statements, including pitching his own graphic novel for sale on the Comic-Con floor, to the amusement of the panel.
  • Favourite episode? Yvette picks the Law & Order episode (“Basic Lupine Urology”) and the puppet episode (“Intro to Felt Surrogacy”). Jim picks “Remedial Chaos Theory” (good choice, Jim!). Danny picks the episode where he got to approach different women as different versions of Abed (“Physical Education”) and the My Dinner With Andre tribute “Critical Film Studies.” Alison likes the moment in “Mixoloy Certification” where Annie and Troy bond outside Annie’s apartment. Ken cites “Modern Warfare” as some of his favourite moments in his career. Gillian loves “Paradigms of Human Memory,” the clip-show episode that used never-before-seen clips. Chris mentions “Advanced Dungeons and Dragons,” prompting Dan to mention that there’s a spot on the season 5 whiteboard marked “D&D 2.”
  • How did Dan and the rest of the cast cope with the misfortune that has plagued Community for so long? Dan says the harder it gets to make the show, the funnier it gets; “it makes for a good place to start looking for really funny and character-defining moments.”
  • Will season 5 “undo” things that happened in season 4? Dan says no. He also tries to apologize again for his previous comments regarding season 4. “A fan of Community does not have to be a fan of Dan Harmon,” he says.
  • Will Chang’s season 4 reformation stay, or will we see a return to antagonistic Chang? Dan agrees that Chang has been all over the map, and sometimes it’s been hit and miss. “I don’t know how to answer your question, but Chang will be back.”
  • What was your favourite set? Dan says every Greendale corridor has joke flyers on bulletin boards that the production team come up with, not the writers. Danny mentions the “Pillows & Blankets” pillow fort sets.
  • Is it strange to be recognized as characters in public, and are the cast looking forward to shedding that some time down the line or are they happy to be known as their Community alter-egos forever? Gillian says she’s happy to have people call her “Britta.” Danny shares a story about meeting a fan at a urinal.
  • Are there any specific challenges or things the cast want to see their characters tackle this season? Jim is just excited to see what new, weird fascination the Dean will develop. Yvette would like to meet Shirley’s sister, mentioned once and implied to have a bad relationship with her. Alison would like to see an empowered Annie, since Annie is so ambitious but gets distracted. Ken uses the opportunity to give a shout-out to Joel McHale for making it possible for Dan to return. Danny jokes that he wants Jamie Lee Curtis to be revealed as Abed’s mom, then says he’s happy to be surprised.
  • The panel wraps up with Danny giving an extended improvised speech about the show (“–and I get to pretend to go to college, which makes my mom really happy, ’cause I’m an immigrant”), while Alison and Ken goof off.

We also learned at SDCC that Donald Glover’s five episodes this season will take place all at once, rather than dispersed throughout the season. This suggests Troy will be written out with some degree of finality and closure, rather than simply taking a holiday mid-season.

You can watch the full panel yourself below.