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"It's happening. Come on!" Gillian Jacobs (who plays Britta) had fans cheering with hope for a sixth season and, though there's no official word yet, the cast along with creator Dan Harmon and executive producer Chris McKenna — who all attended Wednesday night's PaleyFest panel in Hollywood — are moving forward as if it's already a go.
"I've always struck a balance between series and season finale, but this year, it would be especially unsatisfying for the fans if the Season 5 finale is the end," said Harmon. "It doesn't end with anyone saying, 'And we all lived happily ever after.'" That's the sort of confidence born from five seasons of "near cancellation." They're so used to it now, he said. "The only thing weirder than getting a sixth season would be not getting a sixth season."
If it doesn't get picked up by NBC, Harmon is open to other opportunities. "There seems like there's a space where we could do something; one can go to Hulu or Netflix. It's a new business model." But it would require retooling. "It's a network sitcom. It's like, let's take this sonnet that didn't work for everyone and turn it into a limerick."
And what about a movie? Six seasons and a movie started as a throwaway line in an episode, but it's become something of a fan mantra. Maybe it'll go the way of "Veronica Mars" and be a crowdsourced film? "They'll make it. They can each take a frame, and we'll be done," said Harmon. "If we get a sixth season, they owe us a movie right?"
The cast tells us what they think a "Community" movie might look like:
Britta and Jeff will be taking a big step in their relationship, but don't necessarily expect things to turn out well. "If 'Community's' been adamant about anything, it's that relationships mean nothing, emotions mean everything," said Harmon. Or as Joel McHale (who plays Jeff) put it, "All I'm trying to do as Jeff is be as good in bed as Troy was."
Donald Glover's departure was difficult, but there is an upside. "In many ways," said Danny Pudi (who plays Abed), "most of the characters, especially Abed, had more growth this year than all the seasons." Harmon said, "We looked at the Donald situation, and we met it head-on. It was very straightforward in a refreshingly tragic way." Then he joked that it opened the door for "our Search for Spock 'Community' movie."
Harmon assumed McKenna — whose grounding influence was instrumental in keeping the show and the often flighty Harmon on track — wouldn't be interested in coming back to the show, and McKenna thought the same thing about Harmon. But McHale tried anyway. "[Harmon's] brain is where it all exists. I didn't think it was worth continuing if he wasn't back. So I kept calling Jim [Rash] and going, 'Am I crazy to try to get Dan and Chris back?'"
Ray Liotta was originally considered for the role that eventually went to Jonathan Banks (of "Breaking Bad"). So if there are notes of Buzz Hickey that remind you of the type of tough cops that Liotta is known for, well, you're not crazy.
Here's a quick taste of next week's animated episode, "G.I. Jeff." There's a two-part finale after that and then...? #SixSeasonsAndAMovie? #SixSeasonsAndNetflix? #FiveSeasonsAndFanOutrage?
"Community" returns with new episodes on April 3 at 8 p.m. on NBC.