The hit comedy series Community will kick off NBC's Thursday night comedy lineup once again, with Season 3 premiering on September 22 at 8 PM ET. This year, Greendale Community College has a new addition with John Goodman joining the cast as Vice Dean Raybourne. John Goodman and series star Joel McHale recently held a conference call to discuss this new season of the hit comedy series. Here's what they had to say below.
I've already seen one promo for the season that features a pretty great discussion between Laybourne and Dean Pelton, so how would you describe kind of your character's relationship to the Dean right now?
John Goodman: He's got his privates in a vice, Dean Pelton. He's an unseen, unknown force on campus and Dean Pelton was feeling his oats and now he's having his oats fed to him.
Do you have any sort of kind of idea of what your episode count is going to be this season, how many you're appearing in?
John Goodman: Six, I think. Unless they can get rid of me more cheaply.
What was it about this role or about Community in general that made you want to be a part of it?
John Goodman: It's the cast. I think they're a wonderful ensemble. The writing is out there. It's not a typical situation comedy sitcom. It's risky and it's combination of great things and I'm just dying to get back into comedy again. That's what I like to do. I enjoy it. And I've been doing pretty heavy guys lately, so you know, it's nice to lighten up. Not that that's any easier, I mean I had pages of dialogue yesterday that were really precise, but it's good to stretch like that.
Joel, what do you think it is about the show that continues to draw so many viewers?
Joel McHale: It draws in viewers? That's great. No, well, boy I hope, you know, we get an American Idol like audience here soon, but I think I heard what John's answer was earlier, but I think the originality of the show is not like anything else on TV, if I do say so myself. And I think going back to shows like M*A*S*H or Cheers it's an ensemble and the world - they care for each other and the world around them changes, obviously Community's changes drastically. I don't know why people watch it, but I mean those are my ideas. I think you know it's the right combination of actors and obviously now with John Goodman, I feel like that will really bring even more people in with someone of his status and stature.
John, will be getting any meta-references to your former work like how there was a Mad Men joke thrown at Alison Brie?
John Goodman: Good, Jesus, I hope not. Oh, you know what, they might. It's none of my God damned business. I just have to pretend it's not there. Let's pray to God for that and nuclear disarmament.
Is it like this every day waiting for the star to show up?
John Goodman: There are no stars, everyone's a star, and yeah they're all late. No, I wouldn't know because I had so much dialogue yesterday that I was going to apologize for Joel for not being present when I did talk to him. And I don't think I had three words with the director, they just kind of pointed me in a place and I was so focused on trying to get my dialogue right that I was almost on auto-pilot, as far as human functions go. So, I was out there yesterday, but it was fun.
You mentioned that our dying to get back into comedy, does that mean you'd be willing to sign on again for a - like a part in a 22-episode sitcom?
John Goodman: You bet.
Have you been hearing from anyone now that they've seen you back doing comedy on TV?
John Goodman: Every once in a while. Nothing's clicked so far. I've done two failed sitcoms since Roseanne and they're no fun if they're not right. It's you're trying to be funny and, man, that just doesn't work.
Hopefully you'll stay on Community.
John Goodman: Yeah, me likey.
Can you talk about how Jeff will change this season and how we'll see his relationship with Annie develop?
Joel McHale: Well, I can tell you that that relationship will develop further on the romantic end of things, much to the chagrin of half the audience, at least who comments on message boards, and it's divided right down the middle. They'll be like, "Oh, so sweet," they're like, "It's disgusting." I know that my father will become present in the series. Jeff has a lot of father issues, and so that will be dealt with. And according to (series creator) Dan (Harmon), my character's to kind of be put through hell, so I'm really looking forward to taking the journey.
John Goodman: Hell is funny.
Joel McHale: Yeah. So, that's kind of what's happening so far.
Joel, now that you guys are out to Season 3, do you have a feeling like it seems like with every episode you're kind of just going for broke and just going crazy with the stories?
Joel McHale: Yeah, I think at one point there was something like people were talking about how it was going to become about relationships, which obviously it is about that. But as far as kind of a lot of stuff happening an episode, they, as John was saying, they are action packed and it's like we are making a movie every week. There's so much stuff to shoot and film many specialty shots and it's great, but it's as densely packed as a wonderful lasagna.
John Goodman: That's absolutely right. It's like a huge fruit cake over there. It's very layered and it's like there's two features going on at the same time on the same stage. Everybody is doing something.
Joel, John was saying earlier that his character's going to have Dean Pelton's nads in a vice and that he's going to feed him the oats that he's been sewing all these years. Is that going to bring the game to the Deans defense or are we going to see some bonding there between the "kids" and the Dean?
John Goodman: No, they're going to see some bondage.
Joel McHale: Yeah. It's going to get really kinky. I haven't seen that yet in the script. All the stuff that he's doing is setting up kind of the Darth Vader-like empire that is the air conditioning repair school, and my guess is its going to get really hairy in a couple of episodes. That's a good question whether they're going to, because Jeff always is pretty wigged out by Dean Pelton because in every single scene if you watch him walk into the room the Dean finds a way to touch Jeff and it always weirds him out. It's very weird, like he's always like, "Oh, he's touching me again." So, my guess is that at some point he will be forced to help the Dean at some point, but I haven't seen it yet.
I was wondering if any of the characters will be transferring to the dark side of the air conditioning repair program?
John Goodman: They're trying. They're trying to seduce one in particular.
Joel, can you talk about what it was like to have John Goodman on set each day and what he brings to the show?
Joel McHale: Well, as John had mentioned earlier, they kind of knock out a lot of his scenes, you know, like end of the day. And so, he ends up having to do the bulk of the work during the day and a lot of the actors just go and watch him so he doesn't steal anything, and he's had a problem with stealing stuff off the set. No...
John Goodman: They missed a lot.
Joel McHale: I mean, I know that, John, you love the gushing, but it's like we just got the Stealth Bomber and no one can touch it. But, it's one of those things where we are all so excited and we wonder what bet he lost to have to come on the show.
John, I was wondering what your thoughts were on the current TV landscape and how things have changed since your days on Roseanne with sitcoms now being just grossly outnumbered by reality shows? And as you alluded to before, what's it like as an actor when you're seeing all these reality shows?
John Goodman: It's probably a natural weeding out process. It reminds me of the early days of television when they'd throw anything up against a wall to see if it would stick. With all the shows going to cable - or I'm sorry, hour shows going to cable now, you'd think there would be more comedies out there. There are a few, but I thought there would be more, but it doesn't seem to be going that way. I don't know why, maybe there's a smaller concentration of comedy writers than there are real people out there. I'm just an old crabby bastard. I'm not a big fan of reality television. There's some stuff I like. There's a lot of stuff that I don't, but that's just popular culture in general. I'm just an old crab.
Joel, so you know they put your character with Britta and they put - or with Annie, do you have any personal opinion where Jeff belongs?
Joel McHale: No, wow. Wow, in my personal opinion, geez. That's a good question. I had not thought about that. You know, when it comes to that I trust Dan implicitly and, you know, with Jeff he's a very uncommitted and guarded man, even though he's got a lot of issues going on, and you know he's going to be more gravitated to Annie this year. But, if it's my personal choice then I guess it would have to be - boy, I don't know. Probably anybody from the WNBA.
I just wanted to know a little bit about this musical number that we've seen in the preview. What's going on with that?
Joel McHale: Let's see, it is what you saw. It is an over the top, very large musical number with crane shots and streamers and explosions, and the entire school is involved. I don't want to say the reason for it, but let's just say that I did pull a couple hamstrings and I was hoarse afterwards. It's the first thing you'll see in the premiere episode, and if that doesn't grab your attention then we're in big trouble.
I've heard a rumor that you guys have a banner on the set that celebrates your zero Emmy nominations, is that correct?
Joel McHale: Yes, I tweeted it. I tweeted the photo of it. Dan had that made and, at one point it was stretched across the entrance of our sound stage here at Paramount and it's in the exact same font as the Glee sign that says, "Congratulations Glee on your nine Emmy nominations," and our says, "Congratulations Community on your zero Emmy nominations."
John, obviously you've seen prior seasons and there's a lot of really big personalities from Dean Pelton to Chang and such, so when you were trying to kind of figure out how big to make the Vice Dean was there any particular inspiration or anything that you talked to about with Dan Harmon?
No, I actually had a really bad idea coming in and it didn't work out, but it's kind of being redeemed this week. I have big ideas because I have big ideas about the character. I don't know if I'm right yet. It's all personal acting crap that's very boring. It just sounds like psycho-babble, so I'll just keep it to myself.
John, I wanted to ask you how much interaction you're going to have with the study group and are you trying to poach them all?
John Goodman: I have no idea. I don't know what's going to happen. I'm pleasantly surprised every time I show up.
Joel McHale: Yeah, the great thing is that, you know, like Chevy still doesn't know what's happening. No, wait, I'm kidding. I'm sorry.
Joel, I know you're going to have a little bit of an adversarial relationship with one of the teachers this year, and I think whenever Jeff sort of has someone challenging his authority it's when he's most entertaining. So, is that going to be a season-long arc or is it going to be just a couple of episodes?
Joel McHale: That's a great question, because my adversary at this point is going to be Michael K. Williams, and the first episode that is definitely revealed and there's a couple others. I haven't seen anything since, but you know we still have many episodes to shoot. But, that's what I was told and if that's still happening then it's going to be Michael K. Williams, and let me tell you he can be really scary. His acting is just great because it's scary and intimidating. He plays an ex-con biology teacher. So, I think it will be a really good rivalry between the two, because he has a lot more power over Jeff now.