Joel McHale says Community Season 5 is “like Christmas and my birthday every day”: NBC’s comedy Community returns for Season 5 with back-to-back new episodes Jan. 2.
NBC’s much-loved but ratings-challenged comedy Community has often seemed more like a soap opera.
After three seasons, the show’s creator and life force, Dan Harmon, was fired in May 2012. Disgruntled Chevy Chase left the cast in November 2012. The show stumbled through a shortened Season 4 under replacement showrunners. It somehow got renewed, and then Harmon was rehired for Season 5, which premieres on NBC Jan. 2 at 8pm ET/PT and airs Thursdays.
“With Dan Harmon back, it’s like Christmas and my birthday every day there [on the set],” says star Joel McHale. “Having him back, it’s like the restoration of the monarchy.”
Season 4 ended with McHale’s character, Jeff Winger, graduating from Greendale Community College and planning on returning to work as a lawyer, confident that he’ll still be able to maintain his friendships with members of his study group.
Season 5 will take all of that and turn it on its head. “It’s not picking up where we left off,” McHale says. “Time has passed. You’ll see what happens to Jeff and the other people in the group. You’ll be very surprised.
“This is basically what [Harmon] is calling a ‘repilot,’” McHale says. (“Repilot” also happens to be the title of the season premiere episode.) “The first episode is a grounding and a reestablishing of these characters, but in a very unique way.”
And it only gets better from there. “The episodes that follow are some of my favorites,” McHale says. “I don’t know how they came up with the jokes. But I literally — when I get the scripts — start photographing some of the jokes because I want to always have them like that.”
Aiding the Community renaissance are a host of guest stars, including John Oliver, who finally reprises his Professor Duncan role. Others include Jonathan Banks and Vince Gilligan of Breaking Bad, Mitch Hurwitz and David Cross of Arrested Development, plus Walton Goggins (Justified), Paget Brewster (Criminal Minds), musician Ben Folds (The Sing-Off), and Castle star Nathan Fillion. “He’s the nicest man on the planet,” McHale says of Fillion, who guests as a janitor in an episode. “He walks into a room, and you go ‘Dammit, I wish I was his best friend. I want him to like me!’”
Unfortunately, Season 5 will be the last for series regular Donald Glover, who plays Troy. Glover is leaving to pursue his rap-music career. “I would’ve loved for him to have stayed, but I get it,” McHale says. “His career is exploding. I wish him the absolute best, and I hope he comes back sometime. Before that, I hope we have a sixth season.”
Photos: © 2013 NBCUniversal Media, LLC. Credit: Justin Lubin