It turns out NBC might not have been joking about holding back Community to better promote it. Merely a day after news broke of the show’s sudden hibernation, NBC dispatched new showrunners Moses Port and David Guarascio to several media outlets like the two horseman of the PR crisis aversion apocalypse.
Port and Guarascio spoke at great length with Vulture, TV Guide and of course, Papa Bear Sepinwall at Hitfix about the direction they’ll be taking the show. It’s probably the most illuminating information we’ve received yet about the two new showrunners, their vision for Community an their relationship with Dan Harmon. Every interview is definitely worth a peak but here are the highlights.
On their communication with Harmon:
Guarascio: We e-mailed back and forth. That was us saying, “You’ve created an amazing show, and hope we do right by it.” He was very gracious and said, “I’m rooting for you, best of luck.” There were never any hard feelings between us and him. At the same time, the easiest thing for him is to step away from the blackjack table and let someone else play the hand now. He was either going to be all in or all out, which made total sense. But that’s as much as the communication has been.
On their direction for the show:
Guarascio: We’re staying true to where show ended at the end of last year, with the emotional arcs for the characters, and we’re picking up there. It’s a year of change. College is like a biodome, where the rest of the world falls away, and when you get to your last year, you realize this doesn’t last forever. And also, in a meta sort of way, the show has always done a good job of acknowledging how it exists in the outside world, there’s been a big change behind the scenes. So that gets reflected in how we approach the first episode.
Port: I don’t think we came in here being like, ‘We need to put our stamp on it.’ When we came in, we made the conscious decision that we’re going to check our ego at the door. We love this show and want to do what’s best for the show. That meant coming in and doing a lot of catch up about how things were done. We weren’t coming in and saying, ‘This is a new show right now.’ We had long discussions with the writers who had been here before us about the way they write stories, the way they held stories, and we wanted to continue in that tradition.
On their favorite episodes of Community:
Port: Obviously, that paintball episode was the first thing. I remember seeing Troy’s 21st birthday and the pen episode, and just being struck by how many different ways you can do the show and it can still feel like a “Community” episode.
Guarascio: I often refer to the Dungeons and Dragons episode. There are so many distinct aspects to the show, and you’re always able to find this unexpected drama and deep complicated stories and character arcs within the vein of this comedy that can be larger than life. That episode hit some of those dramatic points really beautifully, and felt like a hallmark of the show, as a fan.
For a show that NBC supposedly isn’t all that crazy about, they sure do end up putting a lot of energy into creating headlines for it. First the season 3 hiatus, then the move to Fridays, followed by Harmon’s firing, then most recently the doubling back from the move to Fridays and now they’ve sent the new showrunners on a mini media tour as a clear preemptive strike against the potential backlash of its most recent decision.
Port and Guarascio both seem to have had little warning that their interviews would eventually be damage control, but they manage to say all the right things anyway. It really sounds like they’re going to stay true to Harmon’s vision of the show, which at the end of the day may be the most meta trick Community could have ever pulled.