"Community" star Joel McHale, left, with Moses Port and David… (NBC )
Moses Port and David Guarascio are a few hundred feet away from the "Community" sound stage at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles on a recent morning. With production starting later in the afternoon, they have managed to find time to ponder something other than the Greendale Community College universe.
Will they be carving pumpkins this year as Halloween approaches?
It's hard to say. The duo have a bigger beast to carve. Following the exit of "Community" creator Dan Harmon as the comedy's show runner, Port and Guarascio were enlisted as the show's new co-show-runners and executive producers.
The pair, who previously served as executive producers on "Just Shoot Me" and the short-lived "Aliens in America," most recently served as consulting producers on ABC's "Happy Endings."
Show Tracker spoke to Port and Guarascio late last week about taking the helm of the show. And we kind of wished we could have foreshadowed what was to come: The series was poised to return Oct. 19 on a new night -- but as of Monday, that start date has been delayed, with no firm alternative in place.
Though we were unable to get their thoughts on the delay, Port and Guarascio did elaborate on the daunting task they are faced with, fan perception and Dean Pelton on a chariot (?!).
If you could give me an analogy of what it’s like coming into all of this, what would it be?
David Guarascio: I think when Sony first approached us about coming to take this job, we were really reluctant, actually, because we are huge fans of the show. And it was just sort of a daunting idea. I think once we sort of thought about it and looked at the show as this unbelievable magic garden where all the seeds have been planted and nurtured over the last three years and there are all these people here who have helped take care — from returning writers and the cast and executive producers and directors, all of that stuff — it was like, you know what, it might be fun to come in and help take care of this garden because as a comedy writer you just don’t get to do shows like this. It’s so rare where you get to break all these different rules of what is comedy storytelling. And we sort of realized we might not have another chance like this so let’s do it. So … the magic garden — there’s your analogy. I also have a sandbox analogy. Or a magic sandbox analogy.
Moses Port: We should look into changing our business cards so that our titles are listed as “Magic Gardeners.” We’re not EPs, we’re Magic Gardeners.
From the time it was announced you guys would be running the show to the writing of the first episode, are you guys just pulling all-nighters studying each episode or hoping for osmosis?
MP: We’d seen episodes before, but then it’s like you start to watch it with a different eye. We watched every episode, like, two or three times.
DG: And we thought, holy … this is complicated. It was a re-immersion with the show, looking at it from a new perspective and, also, I think our first thing was letting the cast know, letting the returning writers know, letting the returning production staff know that we were leaning on them first and foremost. We have no interest in changing the tone of the show, the sensibility of the show or taking it in a new direction. We wanted to continue to grow and evolve the way any show would from being on the air year to year. It was just about letting people know that, “Hey, we are not here to make this anything other than the ‘Community’ you have known and grown to love in the past three years. Help us keep doing that.’ Certainly when you create your own thing, you know what you've envisioned. This is different so we had to approach it differently. It was a lot of listening. A lot of listening to what everyone who's worked on the show thought about it — particularly the writers. How they came up with certain stories, what stories they didn’t do and why, why they made choices here and there. It was a lot of leaning back and taking in and absorbing as much as possible.
MP: Even the method by which they break the stories, we’ve tried to keep all of it the same.
In re-watching it and looking at it from a different perspective, what went through your heads? This show has a very unique sensibility and so many people watch it closely — they watch it two or three times for fun, not work like you.
DG: I think the intimidating part was how ambitious this show is. But all of that reinforced the idea of how – normally, you aren’t required to do this job and think about it the way this show thinks about itself. And, so, that seemed like fun. That seemed challenging.