Do you think the hiatus helped you? Were you able to tinker with the scripts during it?
No, we actually had to stay on the same production schedule, regardless of the fact that we went off the air, so nothing changed on a day to day basis. We had to film all of the episodes at the same time we were supposed to, because obviously all the actors and writers and everyone had plans for us to be at work in February and March, and then we had this hiatus of three months to go do whatever. Probably movies for them and life for the rest of us. It only probably changed the tone. It was supposed to be a dark season, and now it’s this dark season that was written in a vacuum. We’ll see how it’s gonna come out, how people react to it.
How aware of the “30 Rock” ratings were you when they had the 8 p.m. time slot?
We were watching them. I felt bad. I have a friend that writes for “30 Rock,” Sam Means. He just started writing for them this year and he was texting me being like, “AHHH” and I was like, “Welcome to the time slot! It’s fu*ked.” Obviously I love “30 Rock,” I watch “30 Rock” every week religiously, we all talk about it all the time, so nobody wants it to do poorly. I mean, it doesn’t help the network at all for any of the shows to do poorly, so we were more worried that “30 Rock” would just do amazing and we’d be like, “No, it wasn’t the time slot. It was us.” But it’s clearly a really difficult time slot. I think that’s been established. There was a New York Times article a week ago that was talking about how most of our viewership is Internet viewership. People are not watching “Community” on TV unfortunately, and so hopefully it’ll help things, in the sense that we won’t be able to rely on the ratings of the show to determine whether or not the show is popular and doing well.
If you guys could get paid by the GIF, you’d be millionaires.
[We began to discuss “Remedial Chaos Theory,” specifically Troy’s timeline with the evil troll, when Megan mentioned that “there's a joke that's so great or so funny, that no matter what, this [episode] is gonna work, because it has this moment in it.” Which leads to…]
What do you think those moments were for you in your episodes?
I remember “Cooperative Calligraphy,” it was when we realized the ghost of the pen, that’s what they would agree on, and then that would allow them to leave the room. Once we came up with that, we were like, “Oh, this is great.” Up to that point, we knew that they were all going to stay in the room and they were going to go through a process of searching each other and everyone was going to be rolled in like 12 Angry Men style, rolled into the chaos of it. But we kept talking about who took the pen. Does Chang take the pen, or does Abed have it in his shoe? These are all big possibilities of where they would find it, and we kept realizing there’s no way for the characters to find it and have it be satisfying. So after talking about the emotional journey that they’re going on as group and what they need to settle on, once we came up with the idea that they would all rather believe in something paranormal than believe that one of them is so mean that they would do this to each other…They basically believe more in each other than they believe that there are ghosts. And once we realized that it was like, “Great.” That made me so satisfied, a nice heartwarming reason for them to leave the room. So it doesn’t matter as much what happens before or after that, although Dan came up with the idea of having the monkey take the pen. And having that is obviously awesome icing on the cake. But it feels good, before that moment when they’re walking out of the room, it feels good already, so you already know that was the moment when we’re breaking, we’re like this is going to be a fun episode. It tells a full story.
The first documentary episode, I think it was [producer/writer] Chris McKenna who came up with the idea that Pierce would show up as Jeff’s dad, and that Jeff would know and chase him down and pull him out of the car and start beating the crap out of him. I think that was the moment where we’re like the story was fun, and it established the Jeff and Jeff’s dad dynamic between Jeff and Pierce. As for the second, I’m trying to think. I think we just wanted to do a Heart of Darkness homage, and I think maybe it was when we realized that Abed’s documentary was the thing, or that Abed makes the commercial. I can’t remember for that one.