The dream has always been “six seasons and a movie,” and it’s now just one motion picture away from graduating from hashtag-driven fantasy to reality.
The cast and creators of Community returned to Comic-Con International in San Diego to discuss the series’ cancellation after five seasons by NBC and 11th-hour resurrection for a sixth season by Yahoo in a packed-to-capacity Ballroom 20 panel hosted by TV Guide Magazine.
Series creator Dan Harmon and executive producer Chris McKenna were joined by Community stars Joel McHale (Jeff Winger), Gillian Jacobs (Britta Perry), Jim Rash (Dean Pelton) and Dino Stamatopoulos (Star-Burns).
Harmon was asked at the start how Community improbably returned.
“I don’t know. I don’t know how I got my job back season five,” said Harmon, who was replaced prior to Season 4 by the studio before being rehired to run the show he created for Season 5. Sony [the studio that produces the show] and Yahoo are giant corporations. Their tentacles reach… Hail HYDRA,” Harmon said, eliciting a laugh from the audience.
“I know that three hours before the deadline [for the actors’ contracts to be renewed or expire], we were called and asked if we really want to do another season,” Harmon continued. “I think at first I said no and then an hour and a half later I said okay, because Yahoo seemed really cool and smart. I thought, ‘Does it really matter where we’re doing this?’ Wherever we are people will find us, especially if it’s on an easy app like Yahoo Screen which you can get on your desktop or iOS device or Android.”
Rash interrupted, speaking as if he was in an infomercial. “Wow. You’re telling me I can get this on my desktop? With the click of my finger?”
“It’s Season 6 of Community. You’ll be watching it the same way you’ve always watched it, only now it’s legal,” Harmon responded, poking fun at the critically-lauded show’s diminutive ratings.
McHale said he had no doubt that the show would be back. “Like a Japanese general in World War II, there were only two options — victory or suicide,” he said. “I love the show. To have had a show on the air for as long as we have is hard, and to be as good of a show as we’ve been, and I think we have the greatest show in the history of media, is an even harder thing to do. I always wanted it to be back… if they would pay me what [Big Bang Theory star] Jim Parsons is making.”
The actor also said he doesn’t think being on the internet will hurt viewership. “You young people out there don’t watch TV on a schedule. You watch it when you want on a tiny little screen and now we’re on one. So fuck you, network television,” McHale said as the audience in Ballroom 20 cheered him on. “Unless they want us back, like a simulcast or something, then network is great,” he joked.
Jacobs read about the surprise renewal on Twitter. “I was definitely sad the day it was canceled. I cried in my car. I didn’t want to let go of the show,” she said. “I’m excited to see what the web version of the show looks like.”
Harmon was asked if there was anything he couldn’t do on network television that he is looking forward to trying on the Yahoo iteration of the show.
“I’ve always wanted to get my anti-vaccination message out,” Harmon joked. “My philosophy is to try to make the same show that people recognize but make the lack of boundaries felt.”
Unlike Netflix, which makes all episodes from a season of its original series available at once, Harmon said Community Season 6 will air a new epsiode weekly.
Harmon said the writing staff likely won’t convene until the fall and new episodes will appear after Christmas.
As for the “and a movie” aspect — only time will tell.