Why couldn't they have community colleges like Glendale when I was trying to decide what school to attend back in the day? From the chicken fingers mafia to the bizarre spanish class and, of course, the infamous paintball fight, the hit NBC comedy Community made Glendale Community College the place to be on Thursday nights at 8 PM ET. For those who missed out last year, you can catch up on all the hilarity with Community: Season 1, which hit DVD shelves today, September 21, before Season 2 kicks off on Thursday, September 23 at 8 PM ET on NBC.
To celebrate the upcoming Season 2 premiere and the new DVD release, NBC held a special virtual set visit event that allowed me to roam the halls of Glendale from the comforts of my own home. The always hilarious Ken Jeong, who plays Senor Chang on the series, lead us on this tour through the set and the first person we ran into was creator Dan Harmon, who was thrilled that modern-day technology made it possible for us to check out the set without physically being there:
"I'm ecstatic that people can not come visit us in all these new and exciting ways. Last year, to not visit us, all the press had to do was sit at home. Now, through the miracle of technology, you can reach across the internet and not be here with us."
The show was based on Dan Harmon's actual experiences at community college, and the creator told us more about what we can expect on the new four-disc DVD set:
We did cast evaluations with the entire cast, which was really cool because we have one of the funniest casts on and off the screen. For the special features, I had them all come into the dean's office and I evaluated them, asked them how it was going. I think that turned out really well. Chevy Chase was really funny in that."
Dan Harmon listed Episode 1.21: Contemporary American Poultry (a.k.a. the Chicken Fingers episode) and Episode 1.23: Modern Warfare (a.k.a. the Paintball episode) as Season 1 favorites, although he also spoke about Episode 1.17: Physical Education (a.k.a. "the one where Joel McHale gets naked and plays billiards") and how that pivotal episode helped shape the series:
"I just thought that was a real turning point for us. Joel McHale was the reason you were tuning in and then he's surrounded by lovable misfits. We moved so far and so fast with this awesome cast, we were so ahead of schedule. We realized the rest of these knuckleheads could be doing some strange things on their own. The potential really opened up at that point."
Ken Jeong told us that his kids' favorite characters on the show were Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi). Dan Harmon said that relationship was another that had evolved over the course of the season, since they initially thought Troy and Pierce (Chevy Chase) would have that relationship:
"You can actually see in the earlier episodes of Season 1, what we had in mind was that Troy and Pierce would be like the Beavis and Butt-Head of the show. Pierce would be juvenile and Abed would be this character like the Snoopy to the Peanuts. The Troy and Abed becoming the Bert and Ernie of the group happened by accident. They got near each other and the sparks started flying. It was the biblioteca rap. We actually shot those tags six episodes behind everything because I think NBC changed, they used to do commercials over the credits and then they changed back. They said, 'OK, we want 30 seconds of the show over the credits," and we learned that six episodes into the first season. It just so happened that the biblioteca rap tag, we were shooting that the day before it aired and the nice thing about that was, immediately, we got the feedback that the audience was like, 'Holy cow, these guys are awesome.' So, in the next tag and thereafter, we were able to adjust to that."
I won't spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen the rather-shocking season finale yet, but Dan Harmon also talked about how the "love triangle" will be resolved this season:
"It gets dealt with, that's for sure. The dookie hits the fan, in a major way. Resolved is a strong word, because these are relationships that continue."
"What I do like about the episode is it addresses it head-on. I think a lot of shows would actually stretch it out over 13 episodes, maybe make it a secret. It would be this whole soap opera thing and what I liked about ours is it addressed it real quick, head-on. I wouldn't say they resolved it, but I think the viewers will be satisfied."
After our chat with Dan Harmon, Ken Jeong took us through the set some more as we visited the wardrobe department ("We like to dress up as fruits and animals") and then we went to where the main cast were shooting. Ken Jeong said that this scene involved them playing basketball, so they were in this outdoor courtyard. The cast was incredibly enthusiastic and we even got to see Danny Pudi slam dunk for us. It was truly awesome to get a live glimpse at the cast between takes.
We were also provided with some video clips from this live feed from the set, with Ken Jeong hilariously leading us through the set, and you can take a look at the videos below:
Community: Season 1 is available on DVD right now and Community kicks off its second season with Episode 2.01: Anthropology 101, with special guest star Betty White, on Thursday, September 23 at 8 PM ET on NBC. The series stars Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Alison Brie, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Donald Glover, Chevy Chase and Ken Jeong.