Announced in the panel: A new syndication deal and a renewed purpose to reach #sixseasonsandamovie
Earlier this week, we said that NBC's "Community" panel would be the most unpredictable of San Diego Comic-Con. We had no fears that we'd be right about that.
Before we get into the antics of Sunday's panel in Hall H, we should mention that it was announced that the show has been sold into syndication. Comedy Central will re-air episodes starting Sept. 20 with your local channels to follow soon after.
Back to the crazy: Newly reinstated showrunner Dan Harmon came out in an Iron Man suit. After breaking free from the costume, he began railing about the meaning of his cast and fan-supported return.
"It's not about me," he declared. "I'm not saying that it's not like a phoenix that rises out of the sea of unemployment. I can't say that Sony can now sit down and sip from the seas of syndication. It's not about us, it's about six seasons and a movie."
Harmon's entrance followed a fan appreciation video detailing how the cast feels about all the amazing things the fans did to keep the show on the air, including its ultimate goal and Twitter hashtag #sixseasonsandamovie. It lauded the renewal of the series after what many would say was some tough circumstances: low ratings, delayed premieres and the showrunner shakedown.
"I wish I could French kiss every last one of them," McHale said in the video to screams from the crowd.
Joining Harmon was returning writer/producer Chris McKenna and cast members Jim Rash, Yvette Nicole Brown, Alison Bree, Ken Jeong, Danny Pudi and Gillian Jacobs.
Unlike past Comic-Cons with Harmon, he had no big episode announcement. No spaceships or paintball sequels to speak of. He was able to confirm that there will be an animated episode, something he knows for sure since preparation has to start early for that one.
In light of his very publicized dislike for last season's storylines, Harmon said the first two or three episodes
"We have to reground, re-establish these characters. That's not very Comic-Con of me to say: 'Who wants grounded storytelling? Who wants their characters dimensionalized?'" he apologized.
"We have to get down to the emotional basics and have fun doing it," he added. "We want to get back that Season 1, Season 2 state of mind, being really organic and doing one episode at a time."
With only 13 episodes ordered for its fifth season currently, the dream of #sixseasonsandamovie seems threatened but not impossible.
"I feel enormous amounts of pressure, so I really, really have to make these 13 count," he explained. "I don't believe they're the last 13, I really want to give us that sixth season. But, I do think these 13 are the most important of the show's history."
"This world is all I know," Jacobs said of the show's constant "on the bubble status." "This anxiety and threat of looming cancelation, I've never had steady work until this, so this is all I know."
Harmon took a moment to again apologize for the things he said about last season. "I'm not a good person," he said. "To all of you who slept outside to get into this panel, I'm sorry."
"'Community' is a valentine to make up for how awful I am," he continued. "I'm not a good person, but 'Community' will never hurt you. I might, in a car or something."