On Thursday, Feb. 7, after a show-runner shake-up that ended with the departure of series creator Dan Harmon, the long-awaited fourth season of NBC’s unconventional comedy “Community” makes its debut.
Set at less-than-stellar Greendale Community College — led by the flamboyant Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) — it focuses on an eclectic yet supportive study group, led by disbarred lawyer Jeff Winger (Joel McHale).
“We hit the ground running,” Rash — wearing an abnormally subdued shirt and tie — tells Zap2it during a break on set at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, “with a pretty insane ‘Hunger Games’ sort of catastrophe at Greendale, keeping in stride with the fact that bad ideas happen all the time.”
Also on tap for the future is a Thanksgiving-themed episode, in which Winger meets his estranged father.
“James Brolin?” says Rash of the casting. “It’s perfect as far as the prototype for what would look like Jeff’s dad.”
As for what the frequently cross-dressing Dean is up to, Rash says, “He’s a very confused man. But at least his goal is to make this place run as efficiently as possible and be as close to a real university — in his mind. He doesn’t accomplish that a lot, but he tries.
“At this point, he’s dealing with the fact that his favorite study group are seniors, and with the idea that Jeff would be parting from the school.”
Over the course of the show, it’s been pretty obvious that the dean is very fond of Winger.
“We touch upon that in the premiere,” says Rash, referring to a tango the dean does with Jeff, which requires several flirty costume changes for Rash.
“I think,” he says, “I’ve exposed more body than I ever have on this show. But I don’t think I’ve ever done as fun and crazy a character as this. No.”