NBC's "Community" returns for its fourth season... eventually. Presumably in anticipation for their premiere next Friday, Vulture spoke with new showrunners David Guarascio and Moses Port about the new directions the Greendale Seven could be headed this season.
The pair take over from previous showrunner Dan Harmon, who "Community"-philes have been fiercely loyal toward after his unexpected ousting. However, Guarascio sees their vision for the show in the same vein as Harmon's, saying, "When Sony told us Dan Harmon was leaving the show, we said, "Are you sure you really want to do that?" We actually said no the first time. But the thing that gave us hesitancy is ultimately the reason why we did it — there's never really been a show like it. And realizing we could come in and play in this magic sandbox was a once in a lifetime opportunity."
That's not to say filling shoes as big as Harmon's wasn't daunting. "It's told 60 stories. Can you still do something fresh and exciting?" Port explains. "But when we were going back and forth [about taking the job], we didn't want to make our decision based on fear. It helped that this is the only show that my two oldest kids are rabid fans of."
It might be helpful to have rabid fans living with one of the showrunners should things veer off course. However, Guarascio insists that claims of making the series more broad are overblown. "When we pitched them our early batch of episodes, we did get a good deal of resistance to the direction we were going in because they felt it maybe was too reminiscent of what the tone of the show had been," he says. "One of things Dan has done successfully is, he sort of tunneled through the mountain so that everyone who comes after him has an easier time telling other powers that be that it's important that we do the show the way we feel best. It made us easier for us to stand our ground. And they eventually came around to what we were saying. So we're getting to do it that way."
Character-wise, what can viewers expect? Will we pick up where the previous season left off, or ultimately begin anew? Port explains, "At the end of last season, we saw Britta and Troy becoming a couple. And we pick up this season from that point. Them being a couple, you'll see how that affects things with Abed within the first four episodes. And the notion that this is their senior year, and that this could be the beginning of the end, shakes Abed. He's seen his friends as this TV show he sort of put together in the pilot. That's the way he sees the world and understands it. For the character of Jeff, he'll come to face a demon by meeting his dad. But it doesn't end there. Now that this big thing defines who you are, what does it say about who you are after that point."
NBC's aborted plan to move the show to Fridays has fueled rumors that this could be the series' final season. Guarascio explains that, while that is still up in the air, the writers are planning ahead. "I think the place we'll land, because the truth is we won't know about whether this is the last season until May, is that we'll do an episode that we think will be satisfying if it's the end of the season and at the same time satisfying if it's the end of the series," he explains. "Because, if it is the end, we want the show to go out with a bang, the way it deserves. And if the worst thing that happens is, we do that and it comes back next year? Then great."
The full interview can be read here -- for "Community" fans I highly recommend it, it's as optimistic an interview as it gets and I have high hopes for the forthcoming season.