Hanging out with Cousin Eddie . . .
America loves an underdog; cult TV fans only love underdogs. So it’s no wonder that suddenly almost everyone seems to love “Community.”
TV’s backhanded salute to two-year colleges comes by its underdog status honestly. Seemingly cursed with underwhelming ratings despite wide acclaim, it was put on indefinite hiatus late last year after an outstanding musical episode gleefully spoofing “Glee.” Hollywood naysayers to the contrary, there was clearly plenty of life left in the highly imaginative, frequently surreal show set at Colorado’s fictional Greendale Community College, a sort of academic “Green Acres” where normal logic is permanently suspended.
The show, which airs Thursday at 8:00/7:00 central and is also viewable via Hulu and NBC.com, returned in mid-March to a surprise — extremely healthy Nielsen numbers (2.2/7 in the advertiser beloved 18-49 demo). The credit, the show’s makers agree, goes largely to the intense activist fan base.
“Community” stars comic Joel McHale (“The Soup”) and an outstanding ensemble cast with an ethnic makeup that, shockingly, actually resembles a typical suburban community college. Aside from the three cast members we spoke to, the show also features gifted former “3o Rock” writer and actor Donald Glover, Daniel Pudi, Alison Brie (aka Trudy Campbell of “Mad Men“), and some guy named Chevy Chase. Speaking of Mr. Chase, just as the original version of this piece was posted, the Bullz-Eye staffed noticed a burgeoning net-storm over what sure sounds like a pretty ugly altercation between Chase and executive producer Dan Harmon with possibly inevitable repercussions that we can only guess at.
Nevertheless, spirits were high one sunny Sunday afternoon in Anaheim just a couple of weeks back at the 2012 edition of WonderCon as a bunch of mostly fannish writers met with just a few of the very talented people behind “Community.” Yvette Nicole Brown plays the outspoken, devoutly religious, and disarmingly maternal Shirley Bennett; Gillian Jacobs is high-strung former anarchist Britta Perry; and “The Hangover” heavy and former real-life practicing M.D. Ken Jeong inhabits the role of Spanish teacher turned security guard Señor Ben Chang. Also present was
affable seemingly affable creator and showrunner Dan Harmon. As befits a production that blends real intelligence with anything-for-a-laugh energy, everyone had something interesting to say to a table full of committed fans and this enthusiastic “Community” newbie.
Yvette Nicole Brown on the good ratings news.
2.2 is massive…for us that’s like the stratosphere. You could say, “Oh, we’re so fabulous.” No. The fans are fabulous. This is 100 percent flash mobs, black goatees, Subway sandwich buys. They really blanketed NBC and Twitter with their love for the show. I think it made people who had never heard of us go, “Huh. Let’s see what this is.” I’m praying they come back next week.
Creator Dan Harmon on the surprisingly good ratings for the show’s return episode.
I never thought our ratings made sense when they were as low as they were, but now I don’t think that these make sense. It was like a 50 percent increase or something. It was insane. I don’t know who got a Nielsen box or whose cat stepped on the remote. I hope that we can keep it up.
Ken Jeong on the show’s perceived near-cancellation.
The events that have transpired since December have only brought the show and the fans even closer. We have even more love out of it. In hindsight, this has all been such a blessing. You really get to feel the love right now.
Gillian Jacobs on the the role of improvisation on “Community.”
I would say that there’s a lot of goofing around. There’s not a lot of actual improv with the lines. Maybe two percent of what you see in the show is improv. It’s scripted; we try very hard to get it word perfect. It’s just a lot of us making up stupid songs. Stupid raps… We quote the show to each other and we become obsessed with certain lines and repeat them. Lines that probably nobody else cares or remembers, we repeat daily. It’s like jokes on joke on jokes on jokes and we can’t even remember the origin of them anymore.
Tags: 30 Rock, Abed, Alison Brie, Andre Bennett, Anthony Russo, Ben Chang, Britta Perry, Chevy Chase, Community, Community interview, Dan Harmon, Dan Harmon interview, Daniel Pudi, Donald Glover, Gillian Jacobs, Gillian Jacobs interview, glee, Greendale Community College, Hulu, Joel McHale, Ken Jeong, Ken Jeong interview, Malcolm Jamal Warner, paintball, Pierce Hawthorne, Senor Chang, Shirley Bennett, The Soup, Troy, Wondercon, Wondercon 2012, Yvette Nicole Brown, Yvette Nicole Brown interview
There’s no point in writing an intro for our conversation with John Landis when we’ve already given a perfectly serviceable synopsis of the man’s life and times on his page within Bullz-Eye’s Directors Hall of Fame – which you can find right here – but we will say that we’ve been looking forward to chatting with Landis for quite some time. Although his publicist regretfully informed us that he didn’t have time to talk when we were pulling together the Hall of Fame, we’d kept our fingers crossed that we’d get an opportunity to talk to him one of these days, and at last that time has come, courtesy of the Blu-ray release of “¡Three Amigos!,” which hits shelves on Nov. 22nd.
Bullz-Eye: First of all, in case you haven’t heard, I should let you know that we put you into our Director’s Hall of Fame last year.
John Landis: Oh, thank you very much!
BE: Our pleasure. After all, we’re a guy-centric site, and it would be fair to say that you’ve made a few movies that have been appreciated by many a man over the years…including, of course, “¡Three Amigos!”
JL: [Laughs.] So did you get a chance to watch the Blu-ray, then?
BE: I did. It looks fantastic.
JL: Yeah, I was able to restore it to the way it’s supposed to be seen. I’m very pleased with the way it looks.
BE: I was actually going to ask you about that process. I presume there’s at least a little bit of difference when it comes to restoring a comedy for Blu-ray versus, say, a full-on special effects extravaganza.
JL: Actually, no. [Laughs.] That would be an untrue presumption. I mean, every picture’s individual, and it depends on the look you were going for with that particular movie. When they made the Blu-ray for “Animal House,” I was upset. I thought they made it much too bright and clean. “Animal House” is supposed to look dirty and funky. [Laughs.] I remember the technician, when I had to check it, he kept writing on his chart, “Image degraded per director.” But every movie you make, you try – or at least I do, anyway – for a different kind of look. On “¡Three Amigos!” I was really trying to go for those beautiful westerns that Hollywood used to make in the ‘50s. The Technicolor pictures. We wanted the colors to be incredibly vibrant. You know, the old DVD wasn’t even the correct aspect ratio. So I’m happy that I got the chance to restore it.
Tags: 1941, A Town Called Hell, Alfonso Arau, An American Werewolf in London, Animal House, Antony Jay, Artie Ziff, Bing Crosby, Blues Brothers 2000, Bob Hope, Captain Kangaroo, Carl Gottlieb, Chevy Chase, Clue, Coming to America, Dusty Bottoms, Elmer Bernstein, Empire Magazine, Fat Tony, Freddy's Nightmare, Henry Fonda, Into the Night, It's A Wonderful Life, Jack Webb, Jenny McCarthy, Joe Mantegna, John Belushi, John Landis, Jon Lovitz, Jonathan Lynn, Josh Mostel, Little Richard, Lorne Michaels, Martin Short, Meat Loaf, Michael Eisner, Michael Jackson, New Line, Once Upon a Time in the West, Paul Mazursky, Phil Hartman, Police Academy 3, Randy Newman, Rick Baker, Robert Shaw, Robert Young, Roy Rogers, Sam Kinison, Saturday Night Live, Sergio Leone, Spies Like Us, Splitsider, Steve Martin, The Groundlings, The King's Speech, The Magnificent Seven, The Simpsons, The Singing Bush, The Stupids, Three Amigos, Thriller, Tom Arnold, Tom Stoppard, Tony Plana, Trading Places, Transformers 3, Troy McClure, Walt Disney, would you say I have a plethora of pinatas, Yes Minister