'Community': Dan Harmon on 'Parks and Rec," Kickpuncher, Starburns, Anthony Michael Hall, Holidays, Britta & 'Big Bang Theory'
Here's part two of my conversation with Dan Harmon, the creator of NBC's Thursday-night comedy "Community," returning Sept. 23, which focuses on the motley members of a study group at fictional Greendale Community College.
Click here for part one.
For its first season, "Community's" time-slot companion in the 8-9 p.m. ET/PT hour was the comedy "Parks and Recreation." This coming season, "Parks and Rec" moves to midseason, with the established comedy "30 Rock" moving in. That's too bad, in a way, since Harmon was a fan of the show that originally came after his.
On "Parks and Rec" and Rob Lowe (a guest star at the end of last year who will be a regular on the show this year):
Harmon: "I like 'Parks and Rec.' Rob Lowe was great. That was a great move (adding him). That makes me really excited. No matter how busy we got, I would try to go home on Thursday night and watch the show live and watch everything that night. I just felt it was a healthy thing to do, to keep reminding myself.
"I became a huge fan of 'Parks and Rec,' because it was right on after us, and I felt a kinship with them."
On whether there would be an action figure based on Kickpuncher, the action-movie character created by student and amateur filmmaker Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi) and his best pal Troy Barnes (Donald Glover). Click here for a clip:
Harmon: "Yeah, that's a good idea. I don't know. I'll put that on the list. I want to do a lot of that stuff as soon as possible."
On the future of the character Starburns (Dino Stamatopoulos), a student whose sideburns are shaped like stars:
Harmon: Yeah, he's worth a look into. We reboot him slightly in season two."
On whether Anthony Michael Hall, who guest-starred in last year's Christmas episode, "Comparative Religion," as Mike the bully, might make a return appearance:
Harmon: "I'd like to. I want to bring him back, because we broke a 'Community' rule with that character. He's a villain. He doesn't make any sense except in the capacity of a villain. Why is he being so mean? i want to know the answer. I don't believe in actual villains, someone who lives to twist their mustache in the morning."
On what's up in this season's holiday episodes:
Harmon: "Halloween last year was not in the category that you would put 'Modern Warfare' in. This year, it will be, and so will Christmas. At least every six episodes, I want the reaction that I got from 'Modern Warfare.' I don't care if I fail, but that's my goal. We can sustain that. That's not overdoing it. That's just going, 'Oh, you like those croutons? OK, here's a bowl of them.' I'll pull back if people squawk, but I don't think they will.
"Five episodes of grounded stuff about people's relationships is good, and I don't mean romantic relationships, just people dynamics. If your relationships among your characters follow a human-emotional physics that we are all familiar with, as long as you don't violate those ... if you betray me, and I don't get mad about it, that's weirder than if a pie fight breaks out."
On whether he's still having issues with the character of Britta (Gillian Jacobs):
Harmon: "Because she was more real than I was giving her credit for, those Britta issues are over. She's becoming one of my favorite characters, if not the, because she's as complicated as a real person, and yet she's in a sitcom. That's a real accomplishment to me.
"We get tangled a lot. The youngest and hippest and sexiest among us in this culture get the most clumsy, and that's pretty interesting to watch."
On why everybody in "Community," and just everybody, are the heroes of their own lives:
Harmon: "Everybody wants to be a damn hero, but sometimes the most heroic thing is staring yourself in the face. You have to admit that you're a selfish pig, and that would be pretty heroic at this point.
"(Humanity) is a very heroic species, plucked from extinction by its own hand in the face of all adversity. Greendale is a hero, and all these characters are heroes. You don't have to necessarily save the Gulf in order to feel good about yourself."
On whether moving the hit geek comedy "The Big Bang Theory" to Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT means CBS considers the show a "Community" killer:
Harmon: "What a flattering concept that would be. I would love to think that they're sending a Terminator out because they knew that, in the future, I was going to be awesome, but I think we were an afterthought. They're probably more focused on 'Bones,' I would say. They have a big poster of 'Bones' on their wall, and they're studying it.
"They're definitely, by their own admission, CBS, making Thursday night about comedy again. Thursday at 8 was me vs. detective shows and vampires. Thursday nights will lighten up with the chuckles again. Is it going to be weird? Are we doing to find new viewers, or are we going to divide the six million people watching at that time?"
On whether star Joel McHale's shirt will come off again, as it did most memorably in "Physical Education":
Harmon: "I'm just going to keep torturing Joel, because I like watching his dinners get smaller and smaller. He eats hard-boiled eggs without the yolk. We'll see how little he can eat. It's a little revenge from high school. He played football, so I keep writing into the show, 'Oh, his shirt comes off.' Guess no pudding for you!"