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<i>Community</i>‘s Dan Harmon and Joel McHale on the Hiatus, the Oscars and <i>Hillbilly Handfishin’</i>

We've had the pleasure of speaking to Community creator Dan Harmon and star Joel McHale (and Danny Pudi) before, but in these dark post-hiatus times, there's something specifically more ominous about talking to Harmon and McHale after a three-month break. Don't take our word for it -- check out the highlights of a press call we participated in with them last week, where they talked about life after the hiatus and the remainder of the season.

On Returning This Thursday
Dan Harmon: I live in terror. That's why I'm a horrible PR spokesman -- I'll just be honest about the fact that I never know [if the numbers will pick up]. My stomach is in knots coming back from a hiatus. I feel the hiatus is the best and worst thing that can happen to this show, simultaneously. It has awakened a fandom -- and intensity of which may outweigh the quality of the show. What if people love this thing too much? What if let them down? I woke up in the middle of every night for the last two months with my stomach in knots -- I'm terrified. But you know, that's 39 years and counting of that. So things have been good so far... What am I doing? Save it for your shrink, Harmon.

Our way of trying to get people to watch the show is make the best show possible. I'm from Wisconsin so I always feel a little nauseous about begging and trying to trick people into liking me. I'm obsessed with earning people's attention. So I wouldn't be the right guy to do it anyway. But welcome NBC and Sony promote the hell out of the show. I think they should definitely do that.

On Future Pop Culture Phenomena They'd Like to Spoof
Joel McHale: I would like to spoof Hillbilly Handfishin'. I don't know if you've seen Hillbilly Handfishin', but these hillbillies hang in the river and then they reach into mud holes and pull out catfish. And then they get people to slide their hands down on their hand and it very much sounds like they're teaching them to jerk off. So that would be a great episode.
Harmon: I think it'd be cheating to do it, and I don't know how we would do it, but Gilligan's Island would be perfect. Yesterday I found an old document from when I was designing the characters and I completely just ripped off Gilligan's Island, and split up the Howells and made Ginger a Radiohead fan.

And if/when we get a fourth season, I kind of want to see if we can do a full blown Scooby-Doo Halloween episode, and maybe just thinly justify it by doing an episode where you guys break down in your van and spend the night at a haunted house and solve a mystery. Seems like you have permission to do stuff like that on Halloween.

On Future Pop Culture Phenomena They Want Nothing to Do With
Harmon: Truthfully, I'm pretty stuck in the '80s. I tend to not go near things that have happened too recently pop culturally because I don't know whether or not they're going to endure [the test of time]. And some stuff slips through that net, and which you justify by saying, "Look we just have to make people laugh on Thursday night," but I try to think of people watching the DVD ten years from now. And so I ironically make very dated references to Die Hard and things because that's all I understand to be timeless.
McHale: And right here I'll reveal now Kim Kardashian will be guest starring along with Ice-T and Coco. So that's going to be a great episode.

On Jim Rash's Oscar Win for Co-Writing The Descendants (And Angelina Jolie Impression)
Harmon: There were 30 million people watching the Oscars. With ratings like ours, if one-tenth of a percentage of them decided to Google "Jim Rash" out of curiosity, it could double our ratings. Also, if someone's cat jumps on the remote, you know that could set things in a whole different direction, too.

On What Community Element They're Happiest With
Harmon: I'm most happy with the fact that it's focused on the characters. I'm least happy with the notion of anyone getting turned off from the outside by the word-of-mouth advertising that makes us sound like a sketch show with a bunch of inside jokes and lame puns. Because the truth is, the way that we get away with that stuff is having handed off some very basic archetypes to some incredibly talented versatile actors who are so consistent in their three-dimensionalizing of these characters. That much like the Peanuts gang or the Muppets or the cast of Gilligan's Island -- they're very iconic ensembles. You can just take them and put them in space suites, you can put them in a musical, you can make them pirates and it still stands.
McHale: When you get a new script, [it] is like opening a gift on Christmas morning. I couldn't imagine what it would be like to be on a show where kind of the same thing keeps happening every episode. Or a soap opera or something, because the imagination of the show is so huge and so vast -- and I'm sure there's probably the network discussions on wanting to bring the show in, but I think the fans would burn the place down if that happened.

On TWoP
Harmon: I'll see you at the Tubeys!

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