'Community' Season 5: Joel McHale and Jim Rash on changes and Dan Harmon's return

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With Season 5 come many changes for "Community." Many of them are, however, good and were previewed by Joel McHale and Jim Rash when the actors spoke to reporters on Wednesday (Dec. 18). What is it like having Dan Harmon back? How will the departures of Chevy Chase and Donald Glover (midway through the season) change the show?

Answers, many of them funny, are here.

Right off the bat, McHale and Rash have to speak about the behind-the-scenes drama that has been a part of "Community" for several years. Rash, interestingly, points out that this might be seen as a positive. "We were that show that was under-the-radar, ratings-wise," the actor behind Dean Pelton says. "I felt that, in a weird way, the drama sort of kept us out there."

As for McHale, he claims to not be too interested in the scandal-like stuff. "The scripts have been so great that it becomes, with all the things that have happened with the show, when the material is so great, you sort of forget about that," he explains.

Both actors seem thrilled at the return of Harmon -- fired before Season 4 and then re-hired for the upcoming episodes -- to the helm of "Community." As McHale pust it, "The monarchy has been restored and things are as they should be."

"The sense of relief that I've had this year has been tremendous," he adds.

Comparing "Community" to shows like "Breaking Bad" and "Arrested Development" -- series that depended heavily on the showrunner's vision -- the actors point out how they couldn't really be done right without Harmon's input. "You can't not have Dan's mind, the creator's mind, and not feel some sort of difference," Rash says. "The map's fantastic, but Dan's brain -- you can't replicate his vision ... Without him, you don't really have your guide."

Related: Check out the epic trailer for "Community" Season 5.

What about the absence of Pierce in Season 5. The show does address this fairly quickly, and McHale and Rash seem pleased with the results. "I think it was a way to both service how Pierce affected the character of the study group and how they will move forward with it," Rash says of the "Community" explanation. "The same thing will happen with the Troy departure."

"That episode, it just cooks," McHale says.

All in all, the actors seem happy to get "Community" back to top form. "I skip to the set each day," McHale points out, only laughing when Rash responds with, "Literally."

"Community" Season 5 will premiere Thursday, Jan. 2 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
Photo/Video credit: NBC