July 24, 2014 3:13pm PT by Philiana Ng
Comic-Con: 'Community' Star Joel McHale Never Doubted Revival Chances
Community had an 11th-hour reprieve last month when Yahoo Screen revived the cult comedy for a sixth season, fulfilling the first half of the unofficial #sixseasonsandamovie mandate.
The stars and producers weren't shy about the unexpected save after an aggressive push by studio Sony Pictures Television. "Sony and Yahoo are giant corporations. Their tentacles reach — hail Hydra! — into every crevice," creator Dan Harmon told the Ballroom 20 audience during Thursday's Comic-Con session.
"Wherever the show is, people will find it — especially when it's on Yahoo Screen," added Harmon. "It's season six of Community. You'll be watching it the way you've always watched it — only now it's legal." Though no official announcement was made, Harmon and executive producer Chris McKenna said that Community will still have a traditional sitcom format, with the 13 episodes rolled out on a weekly basis, likely beginning after Christmas. (The writers' room kicks back up in the fall.)
Prior to Community's resurrection, Harmon was vocal about tempering expectations, even penning a blog post explaining his reasoning. "I didn't want [the fans] to be crushed," Harmon said. "I didn't feel that this was possible, so I didn't want them to get optimistic. I knew that, honestly, it was corporate politics. At a certain point the love is a commodity to them, which has been overly demonstrated. Then it's time to sit back and let them make something happen, and they did."
If there was one person who was confident about Community's return, it was Joel McHale, a major proponent for Harmon returning to the show in season five a year after his ouster. "I had no doubt we would be back," The Soup host said. "Much like a Japanese general in World War II, the only option was victory or suicide. As I've said a lot, I love the show."
McHale half-joked that if it came down to it, he "was ready to do a regional theater version of the show." If anything, the digital transition for the perennial bubble show — which has never been a ratings ballbuster — was kismet. "I know most of you watch on tiny little screens and now we're on one. F— you network television! Unless they want us back," McHale deadpanned.
Gillian Jacobs and Jim Rash revealed that they found out about news of Community's return on social media, Twitter specifically. "I definitely shed a tear when we were canceled. I cried in my car. I didn't want to let go of the show, because I think there are a few times in your life where you get to work on something as groundbreaking ... and heartbreaking as this show," Jacobs said. Added Rash, "It's been a blessing each season to go to a next [season] and to maybe see the hashtag come to reality."
When asked whether the shackles would be off now that Yahoo Screen would, Harmon joked, "I had a lot of anti-vaccination messages that I wanted to show."
Harmon emphasized the importance of maintaining the DNA of the show — with some tweaks. "The community that these guys recognize needs to be there and I need to be very careful about that," Harmon said. "I don't want to take the wheels off so much that people are like, 'This is a new show.'"