With only three more episodes left in this season of one of the funniest shows on television, we were excited to get an exclusive one-on-two with Joel McHale (Jeff Winger) and Gillian with a hard "G" Jacobs (Britta Perry) to talk about what's in store in the two-part finale -- a follow-up to one of their most popular episodes -- as well as what we might see down the road. We probably should have asked the show's writers about that last bit, but it's always fun to hear what two really funny people think should happen to their characters. Writers, take note.
Tonight's episode is obviously the big birth episode, but what can you tell us about the two-part finale?
McHale: We had a very popular episode called "Modern Warfare," which was an inadvertent paintball war on campus, and the producers at NBC and Sony said, "Hey, can you do that again?"
Jacobs: "People liked it."
McHale: "People liked it. Do it again, and make it an hour, for half the cost." They were worried that they couldn't really top the action-spectacularness of that, but talking to some of the producers, they claim they have. So it should be spectacular. And we have guest stars.
Jacobs: We have guest stars! Josh Holloway from Lost!
McHale: Who played Sawyer!
Jacobs: He's on our show!
McHale: Returning to network television!
Jacobs: And you'll see a lot of familiar faces from the cast of characters that we've created on Community -- keep your eyes peeled.
McHale: Like Leonard, who was very -- is he 84?
Jacobs: He's in his 80s. He actually moved to Los Angeles in the 1930s and was roommates with Marlon Brando.
McHale: You're going to see an octogenarian sprinting across an open field being shot at. Top that, The Voice!
What do you think of the show's delicate balance between themed episodes like the zombie one or the space one, and the "real-world" episodes? Can you have too much of one or the other?
Jacobs: You have to have equal parts of both. Because either you lose a sense of who these people are and you stop caring about them in the bigger episodes, or we lose the segment of our audience that really enjoys these huge set pieces and themed episodes. So for us I think it's important to walk the line, but you have to develop the dynamics within the group, otherwise it's just a parody show, and that's not what we are.
McHale: It's not. I think some people think it is a parody, or we hear it referred to once in a while like that, but it's not -- actual character work happens amidst whatever parody is happening, or "parody" in quotes. Usually there's a pretty organic way we get into it -- like the space bus episode, there is an organic way we access it. But its not just "We're gonna make fun of, whatever, kung-fu films on the next one."
Now that the approval of the group has taken the danger out of it, is Jeff and Britta's secret relationship truly over?
McHale: Well, I don't know.
Jacobs: They tell us nothing, so you literally know as much as we do about that. All I can say is that this show continues to flaunt all sitcom conventions, and we do everything the opposite of how we're supposed to do it, so I have no idea. Maybe we'll get into some sort of Sister Wives situation, where we'll get married...
McHale: Or brother and sister, maybe...
Jacobs: Yeah, we'll be brother and sister or we'll be in a plural marriage or...
McHale: We'll get locked in a time capsule and buried for 40 years.
Jacobs: Anything could happen.
So far, Britta's slept with Jeff, kissed Troy, almost kissed Annie...
Jacobs: Britta actually did make out with another girl...
McHale: And a Balkan war criminal...
Jacobs: And a war criminal, and a man with tiny nipples, yeah.
McHale: What are you saying, Bravo TV?
Jacobs: Look at your programming!
I'm just wondering if you can see Britta hooking up with other members of the study group, is all.
Jacobs: Maybe the table. The study room table. We're gonna start a deep and meaningful relationship.
McHale: We already had...
Jacobs: Yeah, we did the deed on the table. The monkey, maybe? Annie's Boobs? Let's go there. That's what America needs. No, I think Britta's pretty immature. I think she has to undergo a lot of personal growth and development before she can sustain a relationship with anyone. And luckily, Greendale is a big place with lots of new students coming in every semester, so I have an endless supply of men to date and destroy.
Pierce Hawthorne seems to have been pulled back from the dark side in the last few episodes -- have we seen the end of Pierce the villain?
McHale: I hope we see more, because that way the character was being portrayed, on the writing end and the way Chevy did it, was providing some of our best episodes. I think people point to our Dungeons & Dragons episode as being one of the good ones this year, and his performance in that was terrific. His performance in the faux documentary episode with LeVar Burton was also terrific
Jacobs: Like I've said before, we had a natural antagonist in Season One in Senor Chang, and in Season 2 it becomes Pierce. And you need to have a villain, you need to have an antagonist, and it's been really great to see the study group struggle to deal with him, because we are in a codependent family relationship. We can't just reject someone or kick someone out of the group, so we have to deal with it, much like in a family you have to deal with that insane, crazy, evil uncle, so like Joel said, it's been the fodder for some pretty terrific episodes, and why not have someone go to the dark side for a couple of weeks?
Do you think another member of the group has the potential to break out as the new villain?
McHale: Sure! How dare you?
Jacobs: He's selfish, he's vain, he's conniving...
McHale: Are you talking about Britta now?
McHale: Dan Harmon is a genius, as far as script writing and jokes and story and original ideas, so we trust him -- I would follow him into any battle and trust him on any story. As we said earlier, he wanted to do everything he could in the first two years, because he wasn't sure if we would be cancelled or not, so sky's the limit in Season 3.
Joel, who's your biggest rival, Ryan Seacrest or Daniel Tosh?
McHale: Well, I love both of them equally. Ryan is apparently now the most powerful man in reality television, according to everyone, so I have to be careful when I make fun of him, or his sniper team will shoot me.
Watch the birth of Shirley's baby tonight at 8/7C on NBC and let us know what you thought below, then check out our guide to the show's greatest pop-culture references!
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