Mega 'Community' interview with Dan Harmon, part 2
I don’t know how the season ends, but have you given any thought to what you might do with the show if it somehow miraculously comes back for one more?
Dan Harmon: No. My worst moments at “Community,” when the audience is suffering the most, when the show sucks the most, is when I decide that I know what I’m about to do. Like I made a huge mistake season 5 of being bound and determined to do a second Dungeons and Dragons episode. I think it’ll be pretty good. I think they’re gonna like it a lot, but it was the hardest episode to write a script for at a time when we needed the easiest. It put the subsequent episodes all off schedule, put us back into that old familiar Dan Harmon zone of, “We’re writing page three, and you’re shooting page two and here you go.”
You’ve become David Milch.
Dan Harmon: Yeah, I’m one bad back away from laying down on the floor and calling out lines of dialogue. So in other words, if we do a season 6, I ain’t ever again gonna go, “I know one thing we’ve got to do, baby.” Because it always screws us over. And that’s not how paintball happened and that’s not how chicken fingers happened and that’s not how some of our finest episodes have happened. Certainly not how our finest seasons happened. Our season that people point out as being arguably the worst of my first three, for example, the third was the season that was pitched in advance in an NBC boardroom so that we could get permission to do it. We had character arcs grafted out for every single character on the show and then executed them throughout the season. And so I don’t have good experience with laying plans. I think that I have a huge ego and an active brain and a big mouth but I don’t think any of those three things are the things that get the work done that people like. I think that laughter, joy, collaboration, impulsiveness and confidence create these moments that people point out as being “Community”s big selling point. We swing for the bleachers, and sometimes we miss and sometimes we hit. But it’s terrible when we point at the bleachers and it’s terrible when we sit with a clipboard and change the batting order and it’s just good when we get up there and just fucking swing really hard. And as we fall into the dirt we turn it into a tumble and, you know, we make a silly dance.
You do realize, of course, that if there’s a sixth season, because of this little throwaway joke in one episode in season 2, the fans are now going to be demanding a movie of some sort.
Dan Harmon: Well I honor that stuff so much higher than practical things. I believe in magic. I believe in mythology. I believe in shamanism. I believe that spells can be cast and I believe that random things coalesce and reveal themselves to be part of a plan we don’t control, you know. Why six? Why not five? Someone asked me that today. They shook their head and chucked and said, “So you could have had them say ‘five seasons and a movie’ and you’d be done.” I said, “Yeah, true. But he said ‘six.’” That’s Abed’s definition of a perfect TV show Valhalla. So I’m locked into that. If I turn my back on that I am Barabas.
So if NBC renews you, you’re gonna go to Sony and says, “Look, we just need a little extra money. We’ll do four episodes that we’ll consider a movie,” or...
Dan Harmon: The movie part is the movie part. I mean, if they do a sixth season, I have to participate. And having done that, if the movie has to be made out of clay and duct tape in my basement, then that’s how the movie will be made, because there has to be closure. The title of the book about the show is not “’Community,’ An Interesting Journey into a Show No One Ever Watched.” The title of the book is obviously going to be, “Six Seasons and a Movie.” So it’s already over. Sometimes our hands are just tied up in fate.
You said before that there were really only two things from the fourth season you needed to carry through. But you chose to bring back Brie Larson. I don’t know if she comes back at any point later in the season or if that was just it. But you clearly saw something there that you wanted to have come back.
Dan Harmon: Well I’ll break your heart by telling you that, I mean, she’s in demand and did us a favor probably financially by coming back. She comes back in this next episode, the Vince Gilligan one, but there’s no closure with that. The idea is that Abed’s in a relationship and we’re not making a big deal out of it. We tell a story about what it might be like to be in a relationship with Abed for this episode but we didn’t have the Brie Larson availability to have her there at the curtain call and the finale or anything like that. But she was magical in her appearance in the fourth season. She doesn’t even say anything. She might as well be a pair of glasses and a wig on a mop handle, but it’s Brie Larson so she has this humanity, this energy coming off. I never wanted to go the Latka route (from “Taxi”) and pair Abed with a female Abed. Maybe at one point I thought, “Let’s have Parker Posey come on and be a film professor that Mrs. Robinson’s Abed,” where she can’t keep her hands off of him because of his genius and also soils him with classic education about film that starts to pollute his pop cultural purity. I think that would have been cool. I like pairing out of the passionate people. We did that Secret Service agent and that was as close as we got to a female Abed. We lifted a lot from that story and one of the biggest things we lift was that they actually kissed. And it just didn’t feel right. It felt actually more powerful that they passed in the night and that they intellectually acknowledged their compatibility and couldn’t be together. The idea of a healthy or semi-healthy but clearly quirky in her own regard woman being able to recognize Abed’s value and strike an emotional connection with him on a more intimate level than we’ve seen – that’s a story in and of itself and I think that was the iceberg tip that we saw laid out in season 4 that I think is deserving of further exploration. So we did what we could with the time with Brie Larson that we had to examine that in a very funny way and she’s just great. And it was just verified on set. Most of our cast is of this species but it’s weird, too, when a new person come on to set that they just get it. They read the script and they inflect the lines in the way that makes them the most funny and the most human and if we were to do a sixth season, it would be great to see her come back.
And I guess you probably wouldn’t have Banks available because he’s going back to play Mike Ehrmantraut.
Dan Harmon: Yeah.