20 things we learned from the 'Community' PaleyFest Panel
Puppets! Paintball! Annie's Boobs! And other PaleyFest revelations
I've seen at least a dozen "Community" panels over the years at various Fests and Cons and TCAs and you can guarantee two things:
1) The cast will be funny. It doesn't matter which permutation of talent takes that stage, they'll find a way to play off of each other. So even if Chevy Chase is there making everybody awkward or if you're missing Donald Glover, hilarity will still find a way to ensue.
2) In part because of No. 1, you're safely guaranteed that actionable information will be minimal. There's just too much improv and too many extended bits and too many games of one-upmanship. If you're a fan, that's not a problem. You go. You laugh. You have a great time. If you're a reporter looking to cull a blog post of 20 things one might have learned from a particular panel, it can be a real challenge. Either there's no straight-faced information, or straight-faced information is given, but the next punchline comes so quick at hand that you can't get follow-up details.
So this list of 20 Things We Learned From The "Community" PaleyFest Panel from Tuesday (March 5) night includes several things that probably aren't real and several very quick hints at things that went elsewhere. Previous 20 Things... write-ups from Comic-Con have been vast seas of quotations, but I'm not sure if this one will be.
Click through for the 20... But if you're spoiler averse, you probably don't want to bother.
20) Here come the puppets! It was officially announced on Tuesday that this spring, the Greendale gang will get puppet-ized by the same folks who did the masterful puppet episode of "Angel." The puppets were brought out on-stage, which led to both great excitement -- "This is my favorite thing ever," said Yvette Nicole Brown -- and silliness -- There was a lot of puppet-humping going on, as Alison Brie put it, "You can't give children toys and not expect them to play with them" -- and some sincerity -- "We just want to thank you guys, because look at the crazy places this show has gone," said Danny Pudi. NBC didn't give an official air-date for the puppet episode, but check out the first official puppet image.
19) Nobody works a running gag like Alison Brie. Nobody. Early in the panel, Brie transitioned into a very strange character to avoid answering a question. The character was a little boy smoking two cigarette and speaking in a gruff voice, from an anti-smoking PSA, Brie explained. As the panel went along, she kept returning to the character, who had a strange backstory that involved being orphaned in the industrial revolution, as well as a wildly shifting array of accents. "I'm workshopping my one-act, so thanks you guys," she cracked. A little later, though, Oscar Winner Jim Rash looked at Brie with mock concern and noted, "I'm gonna go out on a limb... I'm not gonna see this one-act."
18) As you probably already know, this next episode features James Brolin. "This is the episode where Jeff murders his father. It's very heavy. Mariska Hargitay turns up. Turns out it was a sex crime," McHale says He adds, "It gets pretty heavy because it turns out that they both have herpes." Gillian Jacobs was a little more series when it comes to Britta's role in this reunion. "This is massive for Britta. Not only does she have a major, but she's finally worn down Jeff and she's actually making progress with his daddy-issues. This is a feather in her camp," she notes. But is Britta on the verge of becoming a real therapist? "She's still in the phase of accidentally helping people. I think to be a real therapist, you have to help people on purpose, so she has a ways to go."
17) There's a Joss Whedon connection, only not really! James Brolin is suddenly everybody's father, having popped up on "Castle" a few weeks ago. Asked if this makes Jeff and Richard Castle half-brothers, McHale successfully panders, "Let's just say if there is a Season 5, we end up on the Serenity." When the audience roared, McHale quipped, "That was a nerdjaculation."
16) We're going to get to go to Shirley's house for the upcoming Thanksgiving episode. "I just wanna warn you guys: Shirley likes really weird wallpaper and a lot of gingham, so I'm just telling you to prepare your eyes now," Brown teases. "And we get to see a little bit about what made Shirley who she is. She was formed in this later years more by her in-laws than even her actual family, so you're gonna get to see a little crazy."
15) The cast of "Community" will do *nearly* anything you ask or dare them to do. Ask the cast to get up en masse and do Britta's pizza dance? Gillian will lead the charge. Alison Brie declined to freestyle rap on the panel, but she and Danny dueted on an improvised song about Donald Glover's "These Girls" that became increasingly dirty with references to pubic hair and pearl necklaces courtesy of Brie. An audience member asked Brie and Pudi to do a scene from "Doctor Who" in the style of "Inspector Spacetime" and while the two stars seemed game, the moderator wanted to get more questions in. Plus, as McHale said of the scene, "It's 400 pages, you guys. Come on. It's written in blood."
14) There's an upcoming "Origins" episode that looks at how the gang got together, with a superhero-style twist. "One of the great things about the characters on the show is that the seem like superheroes to those of us that love the show and just talking about them that way and seeing them through Abed's eyes, sorta like the way that they're all connected and meant to be together was sorta an inspiration for doing a story that might trace back how they really came to be. The show has always done a good job of sorta being informed by and reflecting on other genres like comic books, for example, so it just seemed like a natural fit for an episode," co-showrunner David Guarascio says. And because of that episode...
13) Annie's Boobs might be back. "Annie's Boobs is part of the origin of the group one might say, so perhaps we will," Guarascio hints.
12) And paintball might be back. "There might be a little paintball," Guarascio hints again. But it won't be a third full paintball episode, though. Brown describes it as "Paintball-adjacent."
11) The network and studio were resistant to the "Things are changing" meta-episode that marked Guarascio and Port's showrunning premiere. Remember all of that stuff about "Community" becoming a multi-cam comedy? And recasting Pierce? And doing the Muppet Babies animated version? The Powers That Be weren't fans. "When we pitched that to the network and the studio, they really did not want to do that and they fought us very hard on it and we hung up the phone and we're like, 'OK. We know we're on the right track with this one.' And then there was one they liked, 'This is great!' 'What are we doing wrong? Why do they like this one?' So it was a very different barometer you're kinda using to sorta guide yourself creatively," Guarascio recalls.
[No. 10 - No. 1 on the next page.]