10:28am PT by Natalie Jarvey
'Community's' Sixth Season Will Be a "Little Freer" on Yahoo
Community creator Dan Harmon is embracing the show's new home on Yahoo Screen.
The cult comedy returns March 17 on the tech company's streaming platform and Harmon said that it's freeing to no longer adhere to a time slot. "The corset loosens a little bit," he told reporters Tuesday at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. "There's a little, tiny bit more Britishness to the comedy. It's a little freer."
NBC canceled Community in May after its fifth season, setting off a flurry of interest from digital players. Hulu was in negotiations to buy the series, but it ultimately went to Yahoo. Harmon said Yahoo chief marketing officer, Kathy Savitt, a professed Community fan, called him and had a 40-minute conversation with him about bringing the series to Yahoo, which is making a push into originals. "She turned me 180 degrees," he said of that call.
Community has gone through several cast departures since its first season. Most recently, Yvette Nicole Brown announced that she would not return for the upcoming season. Harmon said he's open for characters, especially Brown's Shirley Bennett and Donald Glover's Troy Barnes, to return. He also addressed whether Chevy Chase's Pierce Hawthorne, who was killed off in season five, could return.
"If you were to take a man and bring him back to life like that, you would want to keep that secret," he said. "You wouldn't want to spread that around. You wouldn't just run into a hotel in Pasadena and go, 'I've created life!' "
Season six will introduce some new castmembers to help fill out the ensemble. They are Paget Brewster (Criminal Minds) and Keith David (Enlisted), who both appeared in a promo video for the upcoming season. "I wanted to be very careful about bringing these new characters on to the show," Harmon explained. "The tough thing is, you've got 13 episodes and you're very late to the game. How do you make them feel like classic Community characters?"
Stars Joel McHale, Ken Jeong and Gillian Jacobs, also onstage during the presentation, agreed that the characters are introduced very seamlessly. They also expressed their excitement for the show's revival. "I was so excited," said Jeong. "This is the only series that I know how to be on."
Echoed Jacobs, "We had cheated death so many times. I really had mourned the show."
As for how Community's new online home will change the show, Harmon said it wouldn't be much, though there will be some new freedoms, such as a slightly larger budget and the option to include swearing and nudity. "Hearkening back to season one of Community, it feels more cinematic," he said, adding that he doesn't want to make the show feel noticeably different. "It would be very easy to completely corrupt the tone of the show. I don't want to make the mistake of making the show unrecognizable."
Yahoo hasn't said whether it will give Community more seasons beyond its 13-episode sixth season, but Harmon said he's open to continuing the show as long as it's being well received. "I would never feel very comfortable walking away from any version of the show that existed," he said, later noting that it would be a blow if Yahoo canceled the show. "It will be weird when we get canceled by the Internet," he joked. "We'll become a roving band of street performers, doing stunts and stuff."