Friday, August 17, 2012

Behind-the-Scenes with 'Community' S3 DVD Commentary...

It's a tradition (well, ever since second season) that when the Community DVD box set is released, I marathon all episodes, deleted scenes, outtakes, and featurettes on the first day, and then I go back the second day and start from the beginning-- this time with commentary. Getting to be a fly on the wall of what basically amounts to the cast and creative teams' viewing parties of episodes (there are often margaritas!) greatly informs the relationships you see on-screen. Sometimes they diverge into tangents, and you don't always learn little details about the making of every episode, but they hit the key important parts-- like the fact that "Earth 2" in "Geography of Global Conflict" was not actually an intended reference to Fringe after all, even though episode scribe Andy Bobrow is a big fan of the show.

Since season three was released earlier this week (and because it was 100 in the valley), the timing was perfect to embark upon my own version of Community College Film School with this DVD commentary. This one was a bit bittersweet since many times throughout, creator Dan Harmon references things he plans to do in season four, leaving me to wonder if the great ideas (like an episode about Greendale through the years, utilizing lots of period flashbacks) will never come to fruition on-air. But in addition to the "Awwww" momens, there were a lot of just plain awesome ones, too. 

  • Farts are a recurring theme on the set of Community. For one thing, the bit in "Geography of Global Conflict" started out as just a placeholder for the "something happens here" during the mock debate, but the writers' room were inspired by it and ran with it far enough to get a Galaxy Quest moment out of it in the end. Additionally, though, the cast likes to make up songs on set and at table reads, and one key harmony has to do with the fact that they walked into the room once, and it smelled like someone had farted. Gillian Jacobs and Yvette Nicole Brown give a little sample of this during "Biology 101."
  • "Remedial Chaos Theory" airing out of order was not at the network's insistence as I so bitterly assumed, but instead because it was such a complicated episode, production was still doing pick-ups and needed an extra week to edit with the timeline map and all.
  • Yvette Nicole Brown likes to position herself in places in wide shots that won't require individual coverage later. It's so she can nap in the back, she joked, but really it just makes good sense, as it's bound to shorten an actor's day!
  • Abed's love of Chapstick comes from the fact that Danny Pudi can't be without Chapstick for more that a few minutes, per his co-stars.
  • Gillian Jacobs really likes New Girl. Or it's just the only show she watches. She noted all of the similarities between it and Community, across multiple episodes-- Asian Annie/Asian Jess, David Neher, Martin Starr as a professor, etc.
  • Actually, I learned a lot about Gillian here. Such as the fact that her godparents got divorced and then her godfather refused to acknowledge her-- and years later her godmother was found dead in her house (true story); she dated the guy that played the stoner pizza guy and he dumped her before they had to work together again in "Course Listing Unavailable"; also, people she geeks out over include: Lisa Kudrow and Shangela. As it should be.
  • Dan Harmon's original idea for a Greendale statue paying homage to its most famous former student was Mark Hamill, but the actor declined for the show to use his likeness (much like the joke about Luis Guzman made in "Documentary Filmmaking Redux") because he just wasn't ready to poke so much fun at himself and his career yet.
  • Apparently Troy and Abed's Christmas rap in "Regional Holiday Music" is off-beat a bit-- enough so that everyone doing the commentary commented on it and wondered if it was broadcast that way. Um, for the record, I never noticed anything, and I still think it's brilliant.
  • "Contemporary Impressionists" was originally going to climax with Jeff attending a party with a number of Ryan Seacrest impersonators where he was stealing focus, so they cornered him, threatening to "cut his pretty face" (darkest timeline for real, you guys!), but then the king of all Seacrest impersonators stepped forward to give an impassioned Winger-esque speech about how that's not what they're about. Dan Harmon wanted Seacrest himself to cameo as that King Impersonator, but he wanted to dub his voice with a falsetto. It wasn't clear how many drafts this stayed in the script, but I'm inclined to blame Seacrest himself for not agreeing, thereby making it a moot (plot) point.
  • Ivory wigs cost $5000 a pop.
  • There's a NSFW moment in the background of the hotdog vendor street scene in "Basic Lupine Urology," and it was not at the request of the writers or director but rather the extra himself who "tried something" and no one noticed and so it stayed in the cut. And the censors didn't notice, and honestly, neither did I. Had Dan Harmon not pointed it out so I could rewind and stare for it specifically, he would have gotten away with it all.
  • Jason Biggs passed on the role of "Stoner Pizza Guy" in "Remedial Chaos Theory."
  • Danny Pudi's wife went into labor in the middle of him filming "Course Listing Unavailable," so he left mid-day, and the crew actually put bronzer on Jim Rash's stand-in's hands (and threw a towel over his face) to have a presence of Abed in the campus hospital scene.
  • The hippies in "Digital Estate Planning" used to say "Rape" but the show ADRed it so when it aired they said "Sex" instead. Hippies aren't usually violent, after all.
Bonus: Gillian Jacobs gave Communies a new drinking game: "Spot the thing that isn't supposed to be in the scene but made it in anyway." Example: Mic packs. When the cast stands up from the study room table, if the shot is wide enough to catch them turning around and walking out the door, you can often spot the small square tucked into their waistbands.

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