It's finally the day of Community
's return after an unbearably long winter break, and to celebrate we were able to chat with one of the show's stars Joel McHale (who plays Jeff Winger, the study group's reluctant leader and expert smooth talker). McHale was able to reveal and confirm a few teasers
, as well as address the Annie-or-Britta question. Keep reading for the full interview and be sure to catch the show's return tonight at 8pm on NBC.
Did filming these last 12 episodes in a vacuum change how you approached each episode? Did the dynamic on set feel different?
Not really; we cursed a lot [laughs]. It really didn't change, because our schedule remained exactly the same, so we just kept boldly going ahead. Also, we knew we were still coming back - Sony Pictures Television and NBC had spent the money and assured us, so we knew it was just a matter of time. So we didn't really feel like we were in that much of a vacuum.
You mentioned at PaleyFest that while the other characters might be happier without Jeff present (as indicated in "Remedial Chaos Theory"), they don't mature as much. Do you think Jeff's role as the leader is to help the others grow up?
That is definitely not the way Jeff would see it. Though he puts up a confident front, he's got all sorts of insecurities - he and Britta probably have the most problems to work out. Pierce for that matter, too. Jeff ended up being the leader, and I think Dan [Harmon] said it best at PaleyFest: you can't make everybody happy all the time. And it depends on what timeline you're looking at. It did make everyone happy when Jeff was the one to leave the room, which made Jeff freak out a little bit. His role can be thankless.
With Jeff's ties to both Annie and Britta, will there be any kind of development in either (or both) of those relationships this season?
There's no romantic development really; there will be little things here and there. But as Dan has always done, he mixes up the couples all the time. It's like being in a really close group of friends in high school - they keep pairing up in different ways. But because the group has to fend for its life against all these outside pressures--like the air conditioning repair school, Chang's ascent to power with an army of 13-year-old boys he gets from a Bar Mitzvah, and the group gets expelled--those things have to be resolved first.
How long is the group expelled for?
They're expelled forever. They all go work at a Jamba Juice together.
This has often been called the darkest season of 'Community' - any hints or teasers as to how things get darker in the coming episodes?
A few characters die, in a hilarious way - that's dark. Troy and Abed get into a pretty big fight. There's a full-scale blanket fort war. It's not like it's become macabre or scary, but it definitely gets darker than usual. But I think that's where Dan and the other writers operate best. One of the most praised episodes of last season was the Dungeon and Dragons episode ("Advanced Dungeon and Dragons"), which dealt with a guy who was going to commit suicide. So I think the writers are happy to dance around the lasers right now.
(Image courtesy of NBC)