If there was one key takeaway for devoted fans from this morning’s Community panel, it came from new executive producer Moses Port: “We won’t screw this up.”
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(L-R) Guarascio, Port, McHale and Brown

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He had good reason for emphasising the party line, which was repeated several times throughout the panel. Community creator Dan Harmon departed the show in acrimonious circumstances earlier this year, raising questions about the show’s future direction and provoking a vociferous online reaction from fans. There was even talk that next season would be the show’s last. But both Port and fellow producer David Guarascio stressed that Community, the meta show to beat all meta shows, would remain “weird and wonderful”.
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Before introducing the cast and crew, moderator David Schneider even had a call and response with the audience which echoed the now famous hash tag: #sixseasonsandamovie. And as if to emphasise the quirky, eccentric nature of Community, the panel began with a music video remix of key moments from Season 3, and audience members were even given a cute little blow up pillow.
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I huffed, and I puffed, and I blew this up.

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It had been deemed a risky move for Port and Guarascio, both writers on the show, to meet fans in such a high-profile forum. After all, 5,000 fans barracking you might well qualify as the darkest timeline. But questions from audience members centred on different aspects of the show, rather than picking on the decision to replace Harmon. There was only one mention of the show’s creator during the panel, which provoked a round of applause from cast and audience. This seems to suggest that the fans were sufficiently assured by the new EPs, at least for now.
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Interestingly though, none of the cast members present – Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Gillian Jacobs, Yvette Nicole Brown and Danny Pudi – while enthusing about the show and its fans, explicitly backed them up. Port and Guarascio also dropped tantalising hints about next season, with revelations that Abed will be attending an Inspector Spacetime convention, Jeff and the Dean deepen their relationship, more “creative animation” is to come and best of all, the German fussball guys may make a comeback!
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(L-R) Pudi, Jacobs and Brie, with another producer

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But the best part of the hour-long panel was watching the genuine chemistry of the five cast members interacting with each other. Jacobs, Pudi and Brie periodically broke into raps and little dances, while a visibly moved Jacobs got up to high five an audience member who had praised her performance on the show.
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But it was McHale, true to his screen alter ego Jeff, who dropped one zinger after another. Asked by Schneider who Jeff is constantly texting, he quipped: “Jeff is just texting his hairdresser”. McHale also paid tribute to the fervour of the fans, saying: “We would not have made it without your fake beards and blood sacrifices.” But my favourite line of his came when he revealed that Jeff would meet his father next season. The actor playing him: “Ladies and gentlemen – Eddie Murphy.”
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Let me end with my favourite part of the panel: Pudi and McHale having a rap-off which ends with, almost inevitably, the F-bomb.