March 6, 2013

THE SKED @ PALEYFEST 2013: “Community”


PaleyFest tried something a little different tonight as part of a rambunctious celebration of COMMUNITY, replacing the usual screening with a live table read that featured most of the regular cast, aside from Donald Glover and–of course–Chevy Chase (Fred Willard subbed for Chase).  Slightly disappointingly, the episode read was last month’s series premiere, so the jokes weren’t new, but the cast threw themselves into it with verve, and Joel McHale and Jim Rash did reenact their tango from the episode, to the great joy of the audience.

Community has never been a show with much use for character arcs or plot developments, so the spoilers were conceptual in nature.  There will be a Freaky Friday-ish body switching episode written by Rash (who is, remember, an Oscar winner for his work on the screenplay of The Descendants) and a superhero-inspired origins story.  Paintball will make a reappearance, although not on the epic full-episode scale that it’s had in the past.  And the evening’s climactic revelation was that an episode is coming up where the cast will be represented by muppet versions of themselves–even the cast didn’t seem to know that their very own muppet doppelgangers would be brought out for them to play with on stage, and everyone turned into a gleeful 8-year old for a few minutes.

As for discussion about the multitude of issues that surround the show, everyone was very careful.  New showrunners David Guarascio and Moses Port (well, mostly Guarascio, who seems to be the spokesman for the pair), when asked about the Chevy Chase-ness of it all, didn’t say anything about his exit, and just joked about how they might replace Pierce if the show gets to a 5th season.  Asked about series creator Dan Harmon, whose ouster from the show hovered over the evening as it does the season, only kind and respectful words were spoken (it’s unlikely he would have been as circumspect in their position, but then that’s partly why he’s not in their position).  Cries of “6 seasons and a movie!” brought cheers from the crowd, although it’s hard to believe anyone on stage really thinks the chances of even a Season 5 are very likely, given the show’s slump after the one-week blip of a decent premiere rating, and the uncomfortable fact that episodes are airing months after they were intended, many of them on nights otherwise filled with reruns.  (“Happy Thanksgiving!” the moderator greeted the panel, since that’s where the timeline on the show is right now.)  But this is NBC, of course, so anything is possible.

Mostly it was a night for the Community fans, and for that matter the cast, to geek out for what might very well be one of the last times, and revel in their Inspector Spacetime and Star-Burns memories of yore.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."