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TV Goodness Q&A: Alison Brie & Danny Pudi, NBC’s Community [INTERVIEW] 

Photo Credit: Colleen Hayes/NBC
Photo Credit: Colleen Hayes/NBC

NBC’s Community is currently in an interesting position. Its original creator [Dan Harmon] is gone, and new showrunners have faced a huge challenge in making sure the heart of the show remains the same or as close to the same as one can get. The comedy is a few episodes into the fourth season and while the vibe isn’t exactly what it was during seasons 1 – 3, the show still provides the funny to us pop culture fangirls and fanboys.

TV Goodness recently took part in a press call with two of our favorite Greendale students — well, with the actors who play them, anyway — Alison Brie [Annie] and Danny Pudi [Abed]. It’s clear the two love to be in each other’s vicinity. They talked to reporters about the ways the show has changed, their dream guest stars and what’s ahead for season 4.

With the new writers, were you worried about what the show would become? And were you relieved that the show keeps pushing things with the new episodes?

ALISON BRIE: When we met the new guys they really stressed a lot how much they loved the show and wanted to keep it the same and some of our writers were still the same and so we all were certainly very vocal this season to sort of speak to what our characters would or wouldn’t do and the way things might go on the show and so we were all sort of working together to keep the show intact.

DANNY PUDI: I think there was a lot of fear that the show isn’t going to, I guess, maintain its level and also, you know, will people get it? I think for us the one thing that we wanted to do and make sure that comes across this year is that our genuine love for the show comes across and I think you’ll see that with us this year. Still, there is an extra level of responsibility we have to use as actors to really make sure that we’re still staying true to who these people are and the world around Greendale. But it’s definitely like…you can’t replace Dan Harmon.

Talk about the Annie/Abed friendship.

ALISON: There’s a significant closeness now that’s happening and it’s almost like Annie has entered into Troy territory, obviously not – no one can be a Troy, but like I feel like both Troy and Abed, since Annie moved in to their place, has really kind of entered their world and is accepted in that world. And so that understanding exists within the characters for the fourth season.

DANNY: I also like how there’s like this kind of a language that’s happened between Annie and Abed. I look back at the timeline episode in Season 3 where at the very end I was like, ‘You should move in here.’ And then she, Annie, moves in and then this year, ‘You should take forensics.’ And Annie takes forensics.

ALISON: And she takes it. She listens to him because she knows how observant he is.

DANNY: I think there’s something kind of nice that we understand each other and where we see each other thriving. And I think a lot of that is because of the Dreamatorium. We know that we both have this very specific world view.

ALISON: And even in small ways, I think there are things in episodes that just reference that Annie and Abed are very close. Like in the Halloween episode [“Paranormal Parentage”], Abed references that they’re watching Cougar Town together now and they do a little glass clink like they’re starting to have little idiosyncrasies like Troy and Abed.

DANNY: And watching Annie is now my second or third favorite show, third favorite show, yes, after Spacetime, Cougar Town and you.

Where is Jeff and Annie’s relationship right now?

ALISON: This season is sort of a fun season for Jeff and Annie fans because as usual their relationship doesn’t really progress. I think that [“Conventions in Space and Time”] showed a progression in terms of Annie’s maturity and their maturity sort of as friends in terms of her admitting that she sort of has a crush on Jeff. And I think that Annie will always have a crush on Jeff and I don’t know that Jeff will ever be fully comfortable really getting together with Annie, or if that’s even, you know, it’s not as primary a focus on Jeff’s radar as it probably is on Annie’s and that’s fair.

So I think this season is sort of like them just acknowledging and kind of – and almost kind of moving past it in some ways to being good friends. But at the same time, for fans there are some ways, without them actually getting really close, there will be some interesting things for fans later this season just between Joel and I…I’m trying not to tease too much…but like some certain things (unintelligible) in alternate reality.

DANNY: Yes. There’s an exploration.

ALISON: Yes.

On Abed being the focal point for many of the stories on the show.

DANNY: I think there has been a, I don’t want to say a shift, but I think maybe starting in Season 3 especially, [they] started to dive deeper into Abed’s mind, which in some ways it’s been great because it allows us to go to these really interesting worlds. It’s a great way for us to go to an Inspector Spacetime convention or go into whatever it is, a space bus, or going to any genre…

ALISON: In the Dreamatorium…

DANNY: …into the Dreamatorium, yes. It would be hard to start our show that way because I think it would be difficult for people to grasp kind of what is going on. I think it’s a little easier on the palate when you don’t go into the Dreamatorium right away in our show, but it’s been fun to kind of go there.

Who is your dream guest star?

ALISON: I’ve always thought Jason Bateman would be because we’ve talked about Arrested Development here and I just…

DANNY: I’d love that.

ALISON: …have always thought that he would be so great on the show.

DANNY: I mean dream would be I would love Zach Galifianakis. I think that would be super fun…

ALISON: Oh my God, amazing.

DANNY: …it would be amazing —  him in our world.

ALISON: I just think Bruce Willis.

DANNY: Bruce Willis would be unbelievable.

ALISON: Paintball with Bruce Willis.

DANNY: Paintball, we could do [it] like Looper. Oh that would be amazing.

What episodes should fans be looking forward to?

ALISON: I am really excited for our Christmas episode. Also we have like a Freaky Friday episode that was written by Jim Rash, who, of course, plays Dean Pelton, and is an Academy Award winner…

DANNY: Academy Award winner Jim Rash.

ALISON: …for screenwriting, so that is a really fun one. And also our season finale…This is what I’ll say about change: ‘Hang in there fans.’ Because I think the finale is such a special treat and it’s written by (Megan Ganz) and it’s one of my favorite episodes this season and I think that it has a lot of elements in it that just are – it’s really just made for the fans.

DANNY: And, yes, in some ways it is a little bit of a love fest or a love note.

ALISON: Because it was sort of written as if it might be…our last, so a lot of heart [is] in there from all of us. And I do think that the episodes get better and better throughout the season. So keep tuning in guys.

There’s an all new episode tonight. A synopsis of “Advanced Documentary Filmmaking”:

GREENDALE COMES TOGETHER TO UNLOCK THE MYSTERY OF CHANG’S AMNESIA – ABED FILMS THE EVENTS FOR A DOCUMENTARY – As the campus strives to get to the bottom of Chang’s (Ken Jeong) memory loss, Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) enlists the group to help secure a grant for further medical research and Abed (Danny Pudi) films the activities for a documentary. Jeff (Joel McHale), however, suspects there is more to Chang’s memory loss than meets the eye.

Community airs Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC.

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