Annie and Abed in the moooorning!
“Community” stars Alison Brie and Danny Pudi gave a conference call early this morning and we got up even earlier to log in for a question with them. As fans and press have watched the first three episodes under new showrunners, Pudi and Brie reflected on how things have changed and what’s remained the same, what’s coming up this season and some secrets about classic “Community” episodes like “Virtual Systems Analysis” and “Introduction to Statistics.”
Q: I think all of us wondered if the new showrunners would try to keep the show more traditional, keep it in the community college, but they’re really still pushing and going to new places. Were you worried about that and fighting to keep the ambition alive?
Alison Brie: Yeah, I think it’s a tough tin to learn that your showrunner is not coming back to the show and Dan was such a big part of the show. So I think we were a little nervous, but that’s not a new feeling having worked on our show for four years now.
When we met the new guys, they really stressed how much they loved the show and wanted to keep it the same. Some of our writers were the same. We certainly were very vocal this season to speak to what our characters would or wouldn’t do. We were all working together to keep the show intact.
Danny Pudi: “Community” itself, the show, is a very specific, different kind of comedy too. For all of us there was a lot of fear that the show, is it going to maintain its level and also will people get it? I think for us the one thing that we wanted to do and make sure that comes across the year is our genuine love for the show comes across. I think you’ll see that.
There is an extra level of responsibility we have as actors to really make sure we’re staying true to these people and the world around greendale. You can’t replace Dan Harmon. He created something amazing.
Q: You had a great episode together last season with Annie and Abed in the Dreamatorium. Will we see that resonate more this season?
Alison Brie: I loved shooting that episode. Obviously Danny and I love each other. There’s no one I’d rather be locked in there with, but I also though it was a really great way, obviously Troy and Abed is a unit and Troy is adventuring with Abed all the time, but you don’t get to see other people go into that world. By having Annie go in there, you let the audience go in there and journey into Abed’s mind which is a place we’re never really privy to.
It’s really special because Annie and Abed have distinct differences in their characters but also have similarities in their lack of being able to relate to people. Annie’s never had a lot friends. Abed has never had this many friends at one time, so in certain ways they’re similar sort of outcasts and it was fun to get to watch them get to know each other.
Danny Pudi: It’s fun to see how they both face their neuroses in terms of they both love control. That’s something you get to really explore that in the Dreamatorium. What happens when someone else is like, “Well, I get the Dreamatorium. I know how it works. Why can’t I just hold this quantum spanner like this?”
Overall in acting, I think one of the things that’s really special about that episode which people don’t know about is that we didn’t have a working script for the entire week and Dan Harmon would give us pages on the day as we went. It was largely Alison, I and Tristram Shapeero our director in the Dreamatorium piecing it all together.
Alison Brie: We’d get pages and shoot it 10 minutes later so it was an amazing acting exercise. Danny and I would do impressions of ourselves for each other, so that we knew how to play each other.
Danny Pudi: Every five minutes or so I’d be like, wait a minute, so this is me as Abed playing Annie, or is this Annie as Abed? It’s one of those episodes only Dan could write.
Q: Will that be referenced this season, that connection they formed in that episode?
Alison Brie: I don’t think that it’s really a through line for the fourth season, but certainly when you see these characters relate with each other in the fourth season, there’s a significant closeness now that’s happened. It’s almost like Annie has entered into Troy territory. Obviously not, no one can be Tory, but since she moved in, Annie entered their world.
Danny Pudi: There’s also a language between Annie and Abed. I look a the timeline episode where I say she should move in. This year I say, “You should take forensics.” I think there’s something nice that we understand each other and see each other thriving. I think a lot of that is because of the Dreamatorium. We know that we both have this very specific world view.
Alison Brie: And even in small ways, there are things in episodes that just references that Annie and Abed are very close. Like in the Halloween episode that just aired a couple weeks ago, Abed references that they’re watching “Cougar Town” together now and do a glass clink. They’re having little idiosyncrasies like Troy and Abed.
Danny Pudi: And watching Annie is now my second or third favorite show. Third favorite show. “Inspector Spacetime,” “Cougar Town” and you.