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MAR
16
4 YEARS

'Community': What to Expect for the Rest of Season 2

"Pop, pop!"

Only diehard fans of NBC's Community would understand what that means -- and on a Tuesday night, that was OK.

The quirky comedy hasn't attracted nearly as many viewers as say, time period competitor CBS' The Big Bang Theory, but Community fans are loyal and vocal, as witnessed by those who made the trek out to PaleyFest.

Creator and showrunner Dan Harmon made light of the low tune-in numbers, at one point joking that all of Community's viewers were in the theater. (Community currently averages 4.5 million viewers in Season 2.) And though the series, toplined by The Soup host Joel McHale, hasn't been renewed for a third season (yet), the cast and executive producers were hopeful it would return in September.

WATCH: Exclusive interviews with the cast and creator of Community

Harmon also shed light on some of the past episodes, some of them fan favorites. He noted that the chicken fingers episode in Season 1, titled "Contemporary American Poultry," wasn't meant to be an homage to the mob genre. Originally, Harmon said, it was supposed to be more in the vein of Robert Redford and Election; then it changed. "Halfway through, the cameras were going to roll in two days, then it became a [Martin] Scorsese thing. But it was always about chicken fingers," Harmon said. "It was always about the rivalry between you [referring to McHale's Jeff] and someone else. It changed from Troy to Abed."

"We were at Comic-Con last year and Dan let [everyone know that we were doing] Apollo 13," Yvette Nicole Brown said. "So we found that out at the same time at Comic-Con. And then before we did it, we all got together and watched Apollo 13 at Danny [Pudi's] house to make sure that we were doing everything right."

With the big thematic episodes Community has become known for, with "Modern Warfare," Christmas in Claymation and zombies for Halloween, executive producer and director Joe Russo spoke of how they get away with doing the seemingly high-cost productions with a TV budget. It's a "complex show to pull off," he said, adding that they "borrow from other episodes." This season's "Conspiracy Theories" episode, for instance, was shot in four days, while the mockumentary took only three and a half. Larger-scale episodes that call for more time are shot in six or seven days.

In Thursday's episode, "Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy," which screened for the crowd, Dollhouse's Enver Gjokaj makes an appearance and a few members of the study group get caught in some legal trouble.

The session was light on spoilers, but the panelists did reveal a few things viewers can expect for the rest of the season and beyond: (Disclaimer: A few aren't really true, so read carefully.)

A Sergio Leone-esque season finale? | Shirley will play a prominent role in the two-parter, guest starring Lost's Josh Holloway as an enigmatic character. Producers also teased that there is a Sergio Leone homage in the finale. And apparently, the best Magnitude jokes (who coined "Pop, pop!") appear in the finale.

"Memory" episode: 75 scenes, harpoons and familiar faces? | "It's a f---ing great episode ... I made sure I did everything I could possibly do in Season 2 so if we get a third season, it's going to be boring," Harmon said jokingly. McHale revealed that there were 75 scenes filmed for the 22-minute episode -- and they are new footage. (Harmon called the episode a fake clip show.) "There will be harpoons," McHale joked. (Or was he kidding?) "Pay attention to people in the background, things on the walls ...," Brown added. Apparently they all tie together somehow.

Will "mean" Pierce be redeemed? | We're not entirely sure, but producer Garrett Donovan said viewers have noticed that Chevy Chase's Pierce has gone over to the dark side as of late. It is a "theme out there after the recent episodes" that have aired, he confessed. And it "will be addressed later this season." Co-star Gillian Jacobs had an elegant explanation for Pierce's sudden "villain" label. In Season 1, Senor Chang (Ken Jeong) was the common antagonist, and once he became a student, the study group internalized their conflict.

Jeff's father will be revealed | Ever since Pierce pretended to be Jeff's father in the mockumentary episode, which caused Jeff to have some major freakouts, it's obvious he isn't as perfect or secure as he is seen to be. "We'll meet Jeff's father ... just kidding," McHale deadpanned. "He's half horse and half man." So we won't be meeting the man any time soon -- at least not for the rest of Season 2 -- but get on the thinking caps, who could pull it off? 

An episode from Dean Pelton's POV | Jim Rash, the underrated star of the show, waxed poetic on a potential episode from the Dean's point of view. "In my mind, I've been on many adventures," he shared. Harmon began talking hypotheticals, saying the camera could follow Dean Pelton out of the study room after an opening scene instead of focusing on the gang like it usually does.

A Jeff and Shirley pairing | When asked about Jeff's revolving door with women, McHale had this to say: "I'm just offended that no one thinks Jeff and Shirley would end up together."

Here's a smattering of the evening's soundbites:

  • "I see on Twitter, people will go, 'Hey, you should do Officer and a Gentleman.' " -- Dan Harmon
  • "I've been working on the chemistry since I was 12 years old." -- Yvette Nicole Brown on guest star Malcolm-Jamal Warner
  • "The writers tell me when to Chang it up." -- Ken Jeong
  • Ken Jeong: "I've had a lot of day jobs where I've never laughed."
    Joel McHale: "It was called Furry Vengeance."
  • "OK, I'm in the room!" -- Chevy Chase on his favorite Dean Pelton line
  • "Don't piss off Steven Soderbergh. He's on set." -- Joel McHale about Jim Rash
  • "It's a wonderful dessert display." -- Joel McHale on Jeff's hookups