Dan Harmon Talks ‘Community’ Renewal, Season Three

He also implies that Ken Jeong may be returning to a familiar role in season three

Last Updated: March 19, 2011 @ 12:22 PM

When told that their critically acclaimed but still low-rated television program had been renewed, many show creators would likely be moved to celebrate with drink or, at the very least, a lengthy and exuberant dance of joy.

Not so Dan Harmon, the creator of "Community," the Thursday night sitcom that NBC picked up for a third season Thursday afternoon.

"I came home and I played 'Bulletstorm,' a video game," Harmon tells TheWrap. "I stayed up all night playing it."

"It’s about a few people who crash-land on a planet and they have to shoot all kinds of 'gagoohs' so that they can get bigger guns to shoot even more 'gagoohs.' It was doing that or going out drinking — and it was St. Patrick’s Day, so I thought that was a bad idea."

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Harmon revealed this awesome snippet of information during a lengthy phone interview the day after NBC had given him the good news about his show's future. Here, he lets us in on a few tidbits about his plans for what to do with another year of "Community." Come back next Thursday for a more in-depth interview with Harmon.

'Bulletstorm,' huh? You haven't become jaded about the renewal process, have you?

No, no. It's totally astounding to me and miraculous to be picked up for a third season.

Good to hear. Have you started to map out season three?

I have not. And I’m really excited because I have no idea what to do for season three, which is a really, really creative place to be in.

I kind of knew what I wanted to do when "Community" got picked up for a second season. Depending on the context of the question, this ranged from, "Oh, we've got to do a spaceship episode, we’ve got to do zombies, we’ve got to do this and we’ve got to do that — but more importantly, we’ve got to ground these characters. We have to find out where they live, see their apartment, see the places where they work — we've got to take the camera off-campus."

So, there was all kinds of things floating around in my head when we got the season two pickup. And because we were able to accomplish all those things in season two, season three almost stands as kind of getting to do season one over again. We're getting to settle in, roll up our sleeves and really ask ourselves, "Okay, so let’s say you had a show about a community college and a bunch of knuckleheads there, and you proved that you can do that show, and then let’s further say that people also believe that the characters are completely real and it doesn't need to be about community college anymore, that you can follow them anywhere now. Now what do you really do with these people who are sort of inextricably bound to each other?" We don’t have to keep piping that anymore, that "Oh, this is why we like each other, this is why we’re going to keep hanging out" thing. It’s a pretty cool place to be in. It feels like the first measure of a song is ending and now we actually get to lean in and play something.

Shows like "The Office" have added new characters as seasons have progressed. Do you have any plans to add to your merry band of idiots?

I don’t think so because it’s so difficult already to juggle all of these people. We have a unique problem at "Community," in that so many of the characters and the actors playing them turned out to be so interesting, so bankable, so independently watch-worthy. You have eight characters and you have a 20-minute format. When we try to service them all, then you have two minutes of Donald Glover total. And then if you really celebrate how talented Donald Glover is, well, now Yvette’s not in the show, or now Joel’s missing from his own show for ten minutes. We’ve got an abundance of characters and they have a really versatile connectedness to each other.

So the only new faces that I would expect to add to the mix would be in the same positions we’ve always seen them in, which would be guest stars — the teachers and students that are throwing a monkey wrench into their lives. And possibly you’ve got the professor of whatever class they end up taking together. That’s always a nice, juicy role, if we wanted to try something new. We experimented with John Oliver as the anthropology teacher. Do we throw them into a new class and bring somebody special into that? Or do we slide Ken Jeong back into that position of authority that worked so well with his craziness?

Not to spoil anything, but I do find myself leaning towards that because I thought Ken was really enjoyable as the Spanish teacher. I didn’t want to keep doing Spanish teacher jokes, so it was good to get him out of there. But, yeah, it would be interesting to have to revitalize his role as unworthy authority figure.