John Goodman lays down the law at Greendale this season (Colleen Hayes/NBC)Attention, Greendale students: School is officially back in session. NBC's supremely silly and surreal college comedy "Community" returns for Season 3 this week -- but with all the new cast members and fresh plot developments on tap this year, you might need a campus guide to show you around. That's where we come in. We recently sat down with the "Community" cast to get the inside scoop on what's coming up, and we're back with a final report on the five things to watch for this season.
John Goodman rules the school
Step aside, Dean Pelton: There's a new dean in town. "Roseanne" star John Goodman returns to his TV comedy roots as Vice Dean Laybourne, the imposing head of Greendale's highly touted air conditioning repair annex. Star Joel McHale (Jeff) says we find out this season that the A/C annex "is the most profitable part of the school, so they have all the power." Look for an epic battle of wills between Laybourne and the school's wet-noodle administrator, Dean Pelton (Jim Rash). We'd normally put our money on Laybourne, but Dean Pelton did attend "Dean Camp" this summer and came back sporting a mean goatee, so... yeah, Laybourne's going to crush him.
And Omar Little is in the house, too
Beloved by TV junkies for his iconic role as gangster Omar Little on HBO's "The Wire," Michael K. Williams joins the "Community" cast as well this season; he plays the study group's new biology teacher, Professor Kane. "He's a biology major, he's been to prison," Williams explains, "and he's come out here to teach the fine white kids of Greendale how hard it is to get an education in prison." Co-star Alison Brie (Annie) says having new blood like Goodman and Williams onboard "really sheds a light on how weird the [study] group is. It makes us all seem so bizarre." Oh c'mon, Alison: You guys do a fine job of that on your own.
"Community" star Joel McHale tells us what to expect this season:
Pierce goes his own way
Last season ended with ornery old coot Pierce (Chevy Chase) finally walking away from the study group after antagonizing them all season with petty pranks. And the new school year does begin with Pierce flying solo -- which fans might not mind, since he was such a villain last year. But Chase defends his character (sort of), saying Pierce is "not so much a villain as just really below par in the IQ department. He's a bigot… but he's not going to change a lot. You can't teach an old dog new tricks. [Pause] I just made that up."
Also, prepare yourself for more "pop-pop!": We're happy to report that our favorite catchphrase-spouting bit player, Magnitude, definitely makes a Season 3 appearance. Hmmm, we wonder what he'll say…
Troy and Abed take their relationship to the next level
TV's best bromance gets even tighter this season as Troy and Abed take the plunge and get an apartment together. Co-star Danny Pudi (Abed) confirms: "Troy and Abed move in together in Episode 3, which is a big step for us. When you move in, things change, you know? You start seeing the underbelly of each other." The bigger question? How two broke college students can afford such a sweet pad. "We thus far don't know how they pay for the place. It's a nice place," Pudi notes. "I can't even see how they're going to function as people who produce income. That's going to be tricky." You mean a Greendale degree doesn't guarantee gainful employment? Color us shocked.
No more themed episodes! (Or at least not as many)
"Community" is famous for its over-the-top parodies of movies and TV shows, but the cast says they're trying to move away from those this season. According to co-star Gillian Jacobs (Britta), Season 3 will instead delve deeper inside the study group dynamic: "We'll learn more about each of the characters and who they are outside of Greendale." Still, we can still expect another classic "Community" Halloween episode, a take-off of "every movie ever… a bunch of them," per co-star Donald Glover (Troy). "It's really crazy." Don't hold your breath for a third paintball battle, though. McHale cracks, "Nope, it's gonna be real guns this year."
Get a sneak peek at the new season of "Community" right here:
Season 3 of "Community" premieres Thursday, 9/22 at 8pm ET on NBC. The "Community" Season 2 DVD (with outtakes and deleted scenes) is in stores now.
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