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Mon, 26 Mar '12

Doing Community Service With Dan Harmon and Company

The Community creator talks saving his house, his show and his liver.

By: Brian Walton

Winter break is over and we're heading back to Greendale for another Dean-derful semester of Community. Like many, we just had to rewatch the series during the hiatus and we couldn't help but notice how far the show had come from it's early formulaic concepts. From a stoic Troy to an underutilized Chevy Chase, the show has grown up and grown on us. Check out our video interview with series creator Dan Harmon about the path Community has taken since its inception, as well as pick up some details of this season from cast members Gillian Jacobs, Yvette Brown and Ken Jeong. We reached out to Annie's Boobs too, but she preferred to pick grubs from our cameraman's hair instead.

Nerdist News: Community has some very "meta" jokes squeezed in. Was that always your plan for the show, to turn sitcom conventions on their heads?

Dan Harmon: The intention when I first started, if you can see in the first five episodes of the first season, I'm just trying to buy a house. I pitched the big networks ideas that were more mainstream. Mainstream ideas don't even sound like ideas. They're just like, "I worked at a pizza place when I was thirteen and it was crazy, because my uncle... he didn't even like me." That's a whole pitch for them. And they would go, "The uncle thing is a little extreme." So, I went to a community college and I had that tucked away and they were like, "That's a great idea." I was like, "I knew it."

NN: The characters have clearly evolved. Watching those first episodes, Donald Glover's Troy is almost unrecognizable to the Troy we see now. How did those changes come to pass?

DH: The real answer is, you start with just two-dimensional characters, like the first act of a John Hughes movie. That guy's the cowboy, that guy's the fireman and in a John Hughes movie you eventually learn the cowboy's actually the coward and the nurse doesn't know how to take care of anybody. You hand those characters off to actors who are so versatile and have their own personalities. Donald Glover's just a star. He wasn't "right" for the part of Troy. I was picturing Woody Harrelson, age 20 in my head when I wrote that character. Joe Russo showed me Derrick Comedy stuff and I was like, "Well that's not that character at all, but that kids a star, let's get him on our show."

Here we have neither the time...nor the space, but you can see the rest of the interview here and watch Community, Thursdays at 8pm on NBC. Don't forget to check out the moon colony's progress at Harmontown, monthly at NerdMelt.

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