Community Interview: Joel McHale and Jim Rash Tease Season 5 and More

Community Season 5 Episode 1 & 2 Repilot;Introduction to Teaching (8)

The long-awaited season five premiere of Community airs tonight, January 2nd (8:00-9:00 p.m. ET/PT) on NBC, but you can get a taste of what’s in store for the faithful Human Beings right now. Last month, stars Joel McHale (Jeff) and Jim Rash (Dean Pelton) teased the new season (and each other) during a conference call we were lucky enough to join in on. Check out the highlights below featuring sneak peeks at what’s in store for the study group this season, lots of Oscar teasing directed at Rash from McHale and much more.

Why It Was So Important For Creator Dan Harmon To Return

Season four was an uneven year for Community, in large part because creator Dan Harmon was no longer a part of the show. Without Harmon’s vision as a guide the series suffered, but in a welcome turn of events Harmon is back in charge for season five. While both McHale and Rash stood by the work of the writers in season four they acknowledged that recreating Harmon’s particular brand of storytelling was a daunting task.

“Without somebody who has this, sort of, approach to make it so dense and deep with layers, you know, it’s difficult. It’s a Herculean task that, you know, I certainly wouldn’t want to take on,” McHale said. Meanwhile, Rash (an Oscar-Award winning writer himself) noted that the series needed Harmon’s singular vision to completely work, much like with other auteur driven series like Arrested Development and Breaking Bad.

What’s Ahead in Season Five

As fans know, the departure of Chevy Chase means Pierce is no longer in the study group and Donald Glover (Troy) will depart around episode five of the season. If you’re worried these transitions will affect the flow, McHale and Rash assured us that the writers handled their departures in different, but equally creative ways. “I think it’s about passage of time and, you know, it’s the same thing as deciding that all the fourth season had happened the way it happened and then use the ramifications of the choices made there into the fifth season,” Rash explained. “So I think it was sort of approaching it from the growth of the characters and what it meant for them and the impact of a singular guy on the rest of them. Same thing that will be dealt with the Troy departure.”

Obviously, the departure of Troy will be hard for Abed (Danny Pudi) to deal with, but it also the potential to be an excellent story. “You get to figure out what Abed is without Troy,” Rash said. “And I think they do a very good job of watching this guy transition into the next chapter of his life without his best friend.”

It’s not all about exits though, season five promises plenty of guest stars including Breaking Bad‘s Jonathan Banks. With Jeff transitioning into the role of a professor, Banks’ character Professor Hickey will become a mentor of sorts for him in episode two, “Introduction to Teaching.”

“Jonathan Banks’ presence in this show is just absolutely, out-of-this-world tremendous and he is such a fine – not only is he such an incredibly – he’s an incredible actor, he is really funny. And, you know, it’s just a whole different wonderful vibe,” McHale said of his new co-star.

Other guest stars fans can look forward to seeing include: Vince Gilligan, Mitch Hurwitz, Chris Elliot, Walton Goggins and more. Just don’t ask McHale to choose a favorite guest star. “I’m not – I can’t pick one,” McHale said, and Rash, hilariously called his co-star out for getting so angry over trying to choose.

Community Season 5 Episode 1 & 2 Repilot;Introduction to Teaching (6)

Why is the Premiere Called a “Repilot”?

Just because the season premiere is called “Repilot,” don’t expect the series to reboot. Think of it more as a new chapter for the characters as they move into new phases of their lives.

“I think regardless of calling it a re-pilot, it’s not just to add people,” Rash explained. “It’s also to raise the stakes for our characters. You know, it’s – Jeff’s already going to a new place with this. You know, where he starts is sort of lower – you know, has hit rock-bottom and this is a whole new world for him. And also just sort of what goes through his mind in the pilot episode alone, about the, you know, his allegiance to the school or not to the school for his own selfish reasons, his, you know, his attachment to these people, to them wanting to come back, for what reasons. I mean, I think it is more than just for new people. It’s really for the fans to see the evolution of these people if the stakes are sort of raised in different ways.”

The Theme Episodes

Fear not, Human Beings, we will be getting our share of theme episodes this year. While holiday episodes are out (McHale reminded us that they did quite a few last season), Community will be delving into “some David Fincher worlds,” a Logan’s Run homage and another Dungeons & Dragons outing, among other things. For his part, McHale is particularly excited about the fans seeing the Logan’s Run episode.

“The thing that I am excited for people’s reaction to is there is a – in the Logan’s Run homage there is one scene in particular that involves choreography that might be the most insane – it’s definitely the most insane piece of television I’ve ever been a part of. And it – I’m so excited – I don’t know what people are going to even think for the – I’m just excited to see what people’s reactions are to it, because it’s so wonderfully out there.”

And Now For Something Completely Different…

As you know, Rash won an Oscar for co-writing the screenplay for The Descendents. It seems this has led to quite a lot of teasing from McHale, so here, in no particular order, are three of the best Oscar jokes the guys made during the call (there were roughly twelve in total):

“When he takes his shirt off he has his Oscar duct-taped to his side, which is weird, because duct tape reacts to your skin pretty harshly.” — McHale

“Listen, it’s weird to me that you constantly were like, ‘I think the Dean needs to win an Oscar this year and he needs to show it to everyone.'” –McHale

Joel: “Jim likes watching himself but that Oscar gets in the way so much because he puts it right…”

Jim: “No, you know what? In your face: I’m just going to be doing bake sales while we’re off, just tons of bake sales.”

Joel: “Yes, in the shape of Oscars.”

Community Season 5 Episode 1 & 2 Repilot;Introduction to Teaching (20)

Once again, Community season five premieres with two back-to-back episodes beginning tonight, Thursday, January 2nd at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.

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