For the past two seasons, NBC’s Community has grown from quirky classroom sitcom, to one of the more surreal and malleable shows on network television. And last year, it had – no joke – some of our favorite half hours of television, ever. This year, the show looks to get even better, as sitcom vet John Goodman joins the cast as a recurring guest-star as Vice Dean Laybourne, dean of the highly regarded Air Conditioning Repair Annex.
To get prepped for the new season, NBC held a conference call with Goodman, and series star Joel McHale. With a few other news outlets, we talked about where Jeff Winger’s relationship is going with Annie, where John Goodman’s parking space is, and most importantly, what power they would have if there was a superhero episode:
On Goodman’s relationship to Dean Pelton:
John Goodman: “He’s got his privates in a vice. He’s an unseen, unknown force on campus.”
Why Join Community?
Goodman: “It’s the cast, I think they’re a wonderful ensemble, and the writing is out there. It’s not a typical sitcom… It’s risky, and a combination of great things. I’m just dying to get back into comedy again, I just enjoy it. I’ve been doing a lot of heavy guys lately… Not that it’s easier, necessarily, there were pages and pages the other day.”
Why does Community draw in the viewers?
Joel McHale: “It draws in viewers? That’s great. I hope we get an American Idol-like audience here soon, but I think the originality of the show is not like anything else on TV, and I think going back to shows like MASH or Cheers, it’s an ensemble… They care for each other, and the world around them changes. I don’t know why people watch it, but I think it’s the right combination of actors.”
Are there any meta-jokes about Goodman’s past in the show?
Goodman: “Good Jesus I hope not.”
What’s it like working with the other stars on the show?
Goodman: “There are no stars, everyone is a star. Honestly, I had so much dialogue yesterday… They just pointed me to a place, and I was almost on auto-pilot as far as human functions go… But it was fun.”
How will Jeff Winger change this season, and what will happen with his relationship with Annie?
McHale: “Well, I can tell you that that relationship will develop further… In the romantic way of things, much to the chagrin of half the audience on message boards. And I know that my father will become present in the series. That will be dealt with. And according to Dan [Harmon] my character will be taken through Hell.”
“As far as a lot of stuff happening in episodes, they are action packed, and it’s like we’re making a movie every week… It’s great! It’s as densely packed as a wonderful lasagna.”
Goodman: “It’s like a fruitcake over there.”
McHale: “It’s like a lasagna was put in a blender…”
Goodman: “…Making a smoothie of comedy.”
Will the gang be forced to help the Dean against John Goodman’s character?
McHale: “I haven’t seen that yet… Everything he’s done so far is setting up the Darth Vader like Empire of the air conditioning school. My guess is that at some point we’ll be forced to help the Dean, but I haven’t seen that yet.
How much do you need to know about air conditioning repair?
Goodman: “I know how to turn them on and off… I know not to urinate in them. That’s all I need to know.”
McHale: “There’s been an outcry from the air conditioning repair community… What, you didn’t do any research at all???”
Will any of the characters go over to the air conditioning Dark Side?
Goodman: “I try to seduce one in particular… Not personal seduction.”
McHale: “He’s like Darth Vader, and Donald Glover is like Luke Skywalker.”
What’s it like having Goodman on the show?
McHale: “During the day, a lot of the actors go and watch him… So he doesn’t steal stuff. But having him on, it’s great.”
What’s your thoughts on how the television landscape has changed since Roseanne?
Goodman: “It’s probably a natural weeding out process. It reminds me of the early days of television when they’d throw anything against the wall to see what stick. With a lot fo shows going to cable, you’d think there’s be more comedies out there, but it doesn’t seem to be going that way. I’m just an old crabby bastard, I’m not a fan of reality television.”
What would YOUR choice be for Jeff Winger to end with?
McHale: “When it comes to that, I trust Dan implicitly… With Jeff, he’s a very uncommitted man… He’s going to be more gravitated to Annie this year. But if it’s my own choice, it would probably have to be… Anybody from the WNBA.”
Are there any TV shows you DO like?
Goodman: “I like the whole thing that Ricky Gervais kicked off… That bogus documentary stuff… The whole NBC line-up!”
Do you have a favorite moment from this year so far?
McHale: “For me, when I got to run in with an axe and start chopping up the study table… That’s about as much fun as I’ve had this year.”
What’s going on with the musical number?
McHale: “What you saw was a very large, over the top number with crane shots and streamers… I don’t want to say the specific reason it happens, but let’s just say I pulled a couple of hamstrings, but it’s the first thing you see in the premiere episode, and if that doesn’t grab your attention…”
What’s it like behind the scenes with John?
McHale: “John is terribly destructive, he parked his car on stage, and said, this is my parking space. No, I mean, there’s so much to do, and so many lines to memorize… It’s not like it’s a quiet set, but having John Goodman and Michael K. Williams, they are the outside antagonists, it’s not going to be Pierce anymore. It brings a whole new energy.”
Any advice for actors?
Goodman: “Be prepared.”
McHale: “Make sure you do a lot of it.”
To close things out, we asked quite possibly the stupidest question we could think of: if Community had a superhero themed episode, what powers would you have?
Goodman: “I like heat vision myself. And the power to nap.”
McHale: “My power would be to determine who lives and dies… Jeff Winger would be less concerned about the powers, than what the costume looked like.”
Community premieres on NBC on Thursday, September 19th at 8pm ET, and come back here to MTV Geek, where we’ll be recapping the show each week!