'Community': Creator Dan Harmon talks Christmas and 'Star Wars' -- plus a sneak peek at the stop motion special!

It’s a very special Community Christmas come Dec. 9, when the Greendale students go “wall-to-wall stop motion animation,” according to the show’s creator Dan Harmon. “It’s Abed’s search for the meaning of Christmas. Everything that happens on this episode is part of the actual show and will change the characters, and yet there are wonderful, fantastic holiday things happening in it.”

Harmon had been toying (har har) with the idea of an animated episode for a little while, and when the “network brass” said they were thinking the same thing, he jumped at the chance — at which point it was time for the Community writers to hunker down and get in the holiday spirit. “Once you’re past the age where you’re running on sugar and adrenaline about tomorrow morning, it’s hard to get through anything — even my favorite shows,” Harmon jokes. “But we rewatched all the Rankin/Bass [Rudolph] specials. It’s interesting to notice all these things that got magnified, and other things that got washed away in the tides of time [...] you pull these images and sounds into your heart as a child, and they stay there.”

Harmon’s pretty much an expert on the pop sounds and images that live in all our hearts and often incorporates them into Community episodes. Just see the Predator homages, the show’s pacing — which is akin to a Simpsons episode — and the stars’ sexual chemistry, which mimics the dynamic between Han Solo and Princess Leia. “That’s Jeff and Annie,” Harmon admits. “He’s a scoundrel. But it could be said about Jeff and Britta, too,” except with Britta in the bounty-hunter role and Jeff as the monarch of Alderaan. “Jeff longs to be thought of as cool.” But Harmon’s loath to put too high a value on the referential aspect of the show. “I’m not really intentionally doing that,” he insists. “My brain is just made of a patchwork of stuff that I’ve seen.”

Hm. Someone who expresses their ideas through cultural allusions and feels that he connects best with people when he communicates through pop references… sound familiar? “Abed is the character on the show that has the most in common, psychologically, with me,” Harmon admits. “In the writers’ room, I sound a bit like Abed — I’m constantly communicating what my point is through examples I’ve seen on TV and in movies.”

It’s a form of communication that’s working well for Harmon, for Community, and for the character of Abed. “The Christmas episode looks into what makes him different from other people,” Harmon says. We’re down for those reindeer games.

Read more:
‘Community’ misfits get in the holiday spirit with a ‘Rudolph’-esque stop motion episode

Comments (42 total) Add your comment
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  • Nina

    I can’t wait for this episode! Although, Dan–comparing Jeff and Annie to Han and Leia? C’mon, man. No. Just no.

    • j

      Yeah, Annie is nothing like Leia.

      • H.C.

        It fits in the context of the opposites attracts dynamic between those characters, the whole “bad boy falls for the good girl” vibe that both couplings share. There’s actually the about the same age difference too.

      • V

        She really isn’t. I hate this comparison.

      • Emily Landeen

        yea Leia is a leader I would definitely say Britta is more like her. The only girl Jeff really can’t get. Or at least that’s how it was at the beginning

      • Nat

        As H.C. said Jeff and Annie does fit the bad boy falls for good girl thing, and if you think about it Leia was a teenager when Han started hitting on here. It’s very telling that Harmon had to work hard to make the Jeff/britta and Han/Liea analogy fit, it just goes to show what a bad fit they are romantically. I like those two as a partners-in-crime type relationship but hate them whenever a romantic element is added since they just don’t work well togetehr that way.

    • belinda

      Oh, but I LOVE this comparison.

      • Kate

        Seconded! I think it’s very apt. And I LOVE Jeff and Annie.

      • Nina

        Well, obviously I don’t. Hence my comment.

      • H.C.

        Sorry Nina but you are clearly in the minority on this

  • Dani C

    So excited for Community Xmas episode!! Love this show-can someone explain to me why we don’t recap it anymore?

    • Jamie

      They already recap like 8 shows from thursady, so I guess they stopped recapping community due to low ratings. Why they still have an apprentice recap is beyond me.

  • Shannon S.

    you know what’s funny…in real life Alison Brie (who plays Annie) is much older than they portray her in the show. Which is a shame because it’s obvious the chemistry that her and Joel McHale have, but the producers are terrified to pursue this relationship because they’ve painted Annie’s character into a corner by making her 19 years old.

    • Chloe

      Harmon really seems to know what he’s doing with his show, he knows his characters. Glad he acknowledged the Jeff/Annie chemistry, but you’re right. There’s an obvious obstacle to that storyline.

      • little Annie

        Well, she could turn 20 after the new year. She was 18/19 last school year. She’ll be 19/20 this one. So it can be explored without people getting creeped out by it. But I do think they need to wait until she’s 20. I guess Jeff is 35-ish? I love the chemistry.

    • Noelle

      At this point, I think the whole age difference excuse for not exploring their dynamic fully is a cop out. Look at Pretty Little Liars and Life Unexpected… both shows in which a girl UNDER 18 has an established illegal relationship with their teachers. Now, that is what I call pushing boundaries and an obstacle. Community seems weak by cowering away from their storyline.

      Whether they’re meant to be together or not isn’t up to me, but the age gap excuse is a cop out when it comes to exploring the relationship at all.

  • Beth

    I cannot wait to see this! NBC, PLEASE don’t give up on this wonderfully inventive, goofy, delightful show that constantly comes up with ways to top itself. Yes, BBT gets better ratings, and I’m sure AI will suck up the atmosphere when it comes back, but neither of them have the creativity this show gives out on a weekly basis.

  • Zombie Jesus

    Most underappreciated comedy of this year…. and last.

  • llc

    I cannot wait to see the holiday episode! This show is the most consistently entertaining out of everything I watch.

  • Becca

    I have never realized it before, but I totally agree with Dan Harmon’s take on Jeff and Annie, They are like Han and Leia probably almost age wise as well. I cannot wait until the Christmas episode!

  • j

    Love the Jeff/Britta and Leia/Han comparisons. It’s funny because it’s true.

    • Stephanie

      Jeff and Annie, not Britta.

      Anywho, Jeff and Annie are somewhat like Han and Leia with the opposite attract theme and th age difference (which many forget about in Star Wars).
      I’m just glad to see recognition that Jeff/Annie have a lot of chemistry, and I hope it continues to play out in the show because its’ a lot of fun to see.

      • No

        No, it says that Britta and Jeff fit the Leia/Han analogy if Britta is Han and Jeff is Leia.

  • Brian

    Community’s a good show and all, but I’m afraid the show’s creators are a little late. This was already done a year ago on the Always Sunny Christmas special, but stop motion is always pretty cool.

    • MCS

      That was exactly my thought. It looks exactly the same.

  • Michele

    By far, NBC’s best sitcom. It’s the only show I DVR that I will watch over and over again.

  • K

    This is amazing. I love this show!!

  • miss k

    Jeff and Annie all the way! By far, Community is my favorite comedy on tv.

  • Danae

    I have mixed feelings about Jeff and Annie. I see the chemistry, but I still think it’s very creepy. It’s not just that she’s young, but SO naive, and Jeff is such a douche. But I don’t want Britta and Jeff to get back together either, they were kind of boring.

    • Becca

      She may be naive in some areas, but she is not altogether naive. Afterall she has been to rehab.

    • mark

      It’s creepy also because she still acts very much like a teenager. Whoever doesn’t acknowledge the very obvious fact that Annie is extremely childish/teen-y about A LOT of things is kidding themselves.

      Britta/Jeff have a real long way to go before becoming a real relationship but I’d rather see that journey.

      • Bee

        I consider Annie a lot more mature about things than Britta, if I’m honest. At least Annie has been depicted as being a driven, ethical character who acts as Jeff’s moral compass on occasion. Britta has only been shown to bring out the childishness and immaturity in Jeff (“A-DUH” fight, anyone?)

    • Robit

      She may be young and a bit naive at the moment, but you can see that Jeff usually looks out for her and tries to protect her from perceived dangers.

      He’s definitely a scoundrel, but he looks out for the ones he cares about. And she’s been maturing quite bit… probably by design as they want to get her up to a place where people are ok with it. I’m personally fine with it. First of all, it’s a TV show and just fantasy. And second… well I don’t have a second really. Haha.

      • Lovich

        Keeping with the Star Wars theme I have to say if Jeff/Annie is Han and Liea then Jeff/Britta was Padme and Anakin. Lucas tried hard to sell Padme and Anakin as a couple but they had very little romantic chemistry on screen much like Jeff and Britta.

  • Tony

    I wish NBC would put this show after a larger lead in say the 9/10 pm time slot on thursdays for the new line up, because its wasted as a lead off on a tough time slot, Common NBC give the show a chance to make it to a season 3

    • Tony

      BTW I watch this show for 2 main reasons
      1. the sometimes awkward but great chemistry of Jeff (Joel) and Annie (Allison) which u could tell was by accident and not something the writers planned
      2. Abed (Danny) and Troy (Donald) which is the best bromance since scrubs

      • Robit

        Agreed! I always loved the show, but when I saw the spark between Jeff and Annie in Debate 109, I really loved the show.

        Troy and Abed are perfect also. This is why the last episode (Conspiracy Theories) was one of my favorite episodes yet.

  • Jamie

    THIS.

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