Everyone's favorite misfit study group finally returns to the airwaves! Showrunners David Guarascio and Moses Port spoke with The Hollywood Reporter on how they attempted to keep the spirit of "Community" alive in the new season, premiering tonight on NBC.
"It might be the fumes in the edit bay but I'm feeling very confident about a season five," Guarascio joked. "NBC is losing a couple of comedies this year with 'The Office' and '30 Rock' and it's nice to have some consistency when you're putting together your fall schedule. I think we fit in nicely that way, knowing we have a loyal fanbase who is going to be excited about the show. We think there's a business model to make the show work at NBC. But if not, we're ready to do it some place else."
The delayed return of the series, originally scheduled as part of the Fall lineup, irked the producers particularly because of the transition and lack of feedback from fans. Not only did the new season see Port and Guarascio taking over from fan-favorite showrunner Dan Harmon, but reports that NBC wanted the show to embrace a broader comedy left many unclear on what the show would look like when it returned. "The one drawback of waiting this year was, because the show has gone through a lot of change, it would’ve been nice to be on the air while we were shooting just so you get that validation for what you’re doing while you’re doing it. It makes it a little less of an existential crisis, wondering how people are going to respond. It would’ve been nice to [know here's] the people who like us and the people who don’t, and getting that part over with so we can keep on going about doing our work," said Guarascio.
Port added, "Especially on this show, where the cast and the writers have such an open dialogue with the fans, to not have the episodes airing while you’re working on it, I’m sure was anxiety-producing. It wasn’t for us; we’ve been through it before. This is that rare show that's like a small, close community, or as David would call it, a Communiverse, where everyone’s talking before and after the show. It feels like we’re putting on a small play for each other, or for [the fans]. So it was strange not to have that feedback."
As for Chevy Chase's exit from the series, the creators feel that it will do little to impact the upcoming season. "That all happened quickly and towards the end of the season. The truth is, Chevy is in most of the episodes. He's in 11 or 12 of them. He's in the finale. His character is well-served throughout this season. This is nothing new. Characters leave other shows as well. There was nothing we were not able to do because he left," Port explained.
In addition to the stand-alone episodes typical to comedy series, Guarascio says to expect "more of an overarching theme for the season, both in terms of what the characters are going through and with the show, is that this is the year of change and that it's something that happens in our lives. It's inevitable, you can't stop it and sometimes it happens when you've gotten used to or comfortable in where you are. Maybe that's the best time for it to happen, that's certainly the most challenging. It made sense linking up some of the characters who were toward the end of their college career -- they're all on different tracks -- but it was a good prism for which we looked through the whole season."
"The resurrection and redemption of Chang is a season-long arc. On the relationship front, some of the characters are taking steps forward into real relationships," Port teased. "Troy and Britta are going to explore that and that has a ripple effect on everyone else, maybe not in the way you're used to seeing on other shows but we're certainly tracking a little bit of that this year."
Don't miss the return of "Community" tonight on NBC!