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3 YEARS

'Community': 10 Things to Expect From a Darker Season 3 (Video)

Executive Producer Dan Harmon and cast members tell THR what's going down on the NBC comedy's third year.

Community Joel McHale and Cast - H 2011
NBC

School is back in session for NBC’s Community. The campus comedy returns Thursday at 8 p.m. with some new professors and a new step in the evolution of the study group.

VIDEO: 'Community' Preview: There Will Be No more 'National Lampoonery' on Season 3

“We started with Spanish. It’s like the ‘Tower of Babel’ story,” creator and executive producer Dan Harmon tells The Hollywood Reporter.

“The first order of business when new people meet each other is how to talk to each other,” he continues. “The second season is anthropology, the study of humanity, what makes us different from animals. This season is going to be now that we are a tribe that loves each other forever now we have to deal with life, which is tantamount to saying we have to deal with God, because life comes and it goes. And that’s a catastrophic realization for everybody.”

1. Look for a darker season for the study group.“The third chapter of a four chapter story is always the darkest if it’s going to be a good story,” Harmon says. “So, this is the year that the meaning of life itself is the subject of their studying and that’s going to be the theme of the season.”

“I think biology class is sort of a good template for showing us at our core,” Danny Pudi, who plays Abed, says. “To me, it’s a good start to Season 3, because it’s very like, let’s look at who we are as humans and kind of look within.”

2. The grand opening musical number is significant how? “It is an over the top, very large musical number with crane shots and streamers and explosions, and the entire school is involved,” Joel McHale, who plays Jeff, says. “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, but believe it’s going to - it starts - it’s the first thing you’ll see in the premier episode, and if that doesn’t grab your attention, then we’re in big trouble.”

3. It’s back to school, really. “I want them to be in a real class that has real stakes, that they’re either going to pass or fail by the end of the year,” Harmon says of biology class in the third season. “That’s what I miss about Spanish in the first season and anthropology class got away from us, because we stunt cast the professor [with Betty White]. It was all good, but I miss that aspect.” Harmon revealed at Comic-Con that there will be graduates in the fourth season, but first people have to pass their classes.

VIDEO: 'Community' Pays Homage to Troy's Biggest Hits

4. Dean Pelton finds he’s not BMOC anymore. Guest star John Goodman plays the Vice Dean Laybourne, who heads Greendale’s air conditioning repair program, which brings in a lot of money for the college. And he’s cashing in. “He’s got [Dean Pelton’s] privates in a vice,” Goodman says. “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.”

And the study group won’t come to Dean Pelton’s aid very soon. “I haven’t seen that yet in the script,” McHale says. “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.' 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.”

5. Pierce (Chevy Chase) gets some time off from being the bad guy. It won’t arrive easily as you’ll see from the premiere episode, but McHale says, “John and [the new biology professor played by] Michael K. Williams, they’re the new antagonists and it’s not going to be Pierce anymore, it’s going to be outside the group.”

"Jeff's 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,” McHale explains. “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."

6. Jeff’s love life will heat up and probably lean toward... Annie (Alison Brie)? “I can tell you that that relationship will develop further on the romantic end of things,” McHale hints. “Much to the chagrin of half the audience, at least who comments on message boards, and it’s divided right down the middle… He’s got a lot of issues going on, and you know he’s going to be more gravitated to Annie this year.”

7. Abed and Troy (Donald Glover) take their bromance to domestic partnership. The two move in with each other this season. “That’s probably going to bring in some new hysterical scenarios,” Pudi says. “I think it’s also interesting, because you’ll get to see more of Abed’s life away from school. Troy will learn a little more about Abed there. There’s still a little mystery to Abed.”

VIDEO: NBC's 'Community' Sneak Peek: John Goodman Goes Alpha on Dean Pelton

8. Time can be manipulated. Harmon revealed at Comic-Con that somewhere in the season’s first six episodes, the show will play with timelines and possibly alternate realities.

9. We’ll meet Jeff’s pop, pop in what will be a tough season for him. “I know that my father will become present in the series,” says McHale. “Jeff has a lot of father issues, and so that will be dealt with. And according to Dan, my character’s to kind of be put through hell, so I’m really looking forward to taking the journey.”

“Nobody wants to avoid hassles more than Jeff Winger,” Harmon says. “And nobody’s going to be more hassled this year.”

10. The finale kiss between Abed and Annie doesn’t totally go away, but shippers may still be frustrated. “We acknowledge that it happens and but we don’t build the show around it,” Harmon says.

“Everything has consequences on our show,” Pudi says. “The affects could be like as if you were in summer camp and you made out with girl and then it never happens again or it might be revisited. The only thing about that kiss is that definitely they both had different intentions. I think Abed thought it was a heroic Han Solo moment and Annie, she’s a romantic.”

Community’s Season 3 debuts Thursday at 8 p.m. on NBC.

To get yourself in the mood for Community's "darker" third season, watch a montage of its darkest moments from previous seasons below.

Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro

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