The cast and creators of “Community” celebrated their show’s resurrection by Yahoo at the Television Critics Assn. press tour in Pasadena on Tuesday.
The sixth season of the cult favorite comedy will premiere on March 17, with two episodes. New episodes will debut on following Tuesdays.
Original cast members Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Ken Jeong, Danny Pudi, Alison Brie and Jim Rash are all slated to return, to be joined by new cast members Paget Brewster (as a “problem-solver”) and Keith David (as a computer programmer).
Series creator Dan Harmon said the deal with Yahoo came down to “literally hours from our perspective.”
The cast had mourned the show after NBC’s cancellation (“We had cheated death so many times,” said Gillian Jacobs), but Sony execs were still shopping the show to other outlets. Hulu was a contender to pick up the show, says Harmon, “but I don’t know what happened there, and it’s out of my jurisdiction.” There were a lot of last-minute phone calls, he says, “including Kathy Savitt from Yahoo… where she turned me 180 degrees by explaining Yahoo’s perspective.”
The series began production in November with new sets on the CBS Radford lot, and Harmon says he’s enjoying the creative freedom of working on an online series vs. broadcast. “As agreeable as NBC was, the corset loosens a little bit,” he says. “There’s a tiny bit more Britishness to the comedy. It’s a little freer.”
Added executive producer Chris McKenna, “A little more rope to hang ourselves.”
As for whether there will be more sex and profanity, McHale joked, “You’ll see me topless.”
Harmon also expressed relief that he would no longer have to face overnight ratings. “That’s going to be the coolest thing,” he said. “They felt bad to me.”
The showrunner said he hasn’t decided whether this will be the show’s final season, though the cast’s contracts will end this year. “I’m definitely not writing it as if it’s the end,” he said. “I have to continue to write the show as if it’s going to last for 20 seasons.”
He dismissed rumors that Chevy Chase will return this season (“His character died”), though he expressed regret about Donald Glover’s departure. “I pray (he) will come down my chimney,” he said. He also left the door open to a possible surprise return by Yvette Nicole Brown, who left the show for personal reasons.
“If I could somehow trick these characters into staying forever, I would,” he said.
Yahoo also unveiled the trailer for the new season, which features the cast and Harmon talking about how unnecessary trailers can be, all while explicitly pointing out where and when new episodes can be found.
“You know ‘Community,’ it’s the best show in the history of all viewed anything,” says McHale in the promo. “I’m not going to say television, because it’s not on television.”