Can you tease some future episodes?
GUARASCIO: A big episode for us early on is going to the Inspector Spacetime convention and seeing what that world is. When we first pitched it to the studio and network, they thought, “More Inspector Spacetime? We were going to ask you to not do any and now you want to go to a convention that’s all about Inspector Spacetime?” And [we're] doing a story that really speaks to what’s going on in Troy (Donald Glover) and Britta’s relationship and Troy and Abed’s relationship. This is the first time Troy’s had a girlfriend, and what does that mean for these two guys who have done everything together?
PORT: Matt Lucas is in that episode. The world is divided into Inspector Spacetimes and Constable Reggies. Matt is another Inspector who is like-minded to Abed.
GUARASCIO: We also have episodes that the show has always done well with: What is the twisted world of the Greendale Community College experience? Troy and Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) are in a class called Physical Education Education, which is really a class that teaches people to teach gym. And at the same time, the Dean is courting a new prospective student who is very wealthy and very lazy — like a young Pierce (Chase) — to fill the school’s coffers with money from library fines to taking double classes and not finishing them.
PORT: We’re going to Pierce’s mansion. He thinks it’s haunted by his father. This is an example where a wacky episode can be very personal because Jeff is also haunted by the ghost of his father. So those two stories influence one another.
GUARASCIO: [In another episode], the Germans challenge the notion that the study room belongs to our group only, and our group digs in World War II-style to fight back. But who they really are in that World War II story maybe is left to be determined.
PORT: History is basically storytelling, and it’s a matter of who’s telling the story. What’s great about this episode is we’ve been telling the story of the study group from their perspective for the longest time, and it’s the first time in the series we get the chance to flip the perspective on how they’re really perceived.
What can we expect from Malcolm McDowell, who’s guest-starring as the study group’s new history professor?
GUARASCIO: Very commanding presence who has a little bit of a chip on the shoulder about American exceptionalism that some people he thinks gets carried away with, including the study group, so he’s not fond of them. An aspect of which will be particularly highlighted in our Christmas episode.
Thanksgiving will be a huge episode for Jeff, with James Brolin playing his father. What happened to Bill Murray (Dan Harmon’s dream choice)? Did you leave him a message on his 1-800 number?
GUARASCIO: Honestly, we just thought we could do better. (laughs) And we got Mr. Brolin, who was great to have here.
PORT: They actually look alike.
GUARASCIO: It was one of those things where we were talking about it in the room when Joel emailed, “What do you think about James Brolin?” and it was like, “Holy s—! We just said his name five minutes ago!” We sent him the script and got on the phone… Joel was so helpful in attacking that episode creatively, because we just didn’t want to do it in a way that felt too neat or too wrapped-up. Meeting your dad who abandoned you when you were a kid can be messy and dramatic, but we also wanted it to be funny, but we didn’t want it to be so funny that it’s stopped being messy and dramatic. We think we found a way to do both… There’s such a presence and this kind of teflon feel [that Brolin] brought to the role that is very reminiscent of Jeff. You want to be mad at him but can’t be at the same time.
PORT: He has an emotionally elusive quality, and he also has this exterior that you feel is as tough as Jeff’s is.
GUARASCIO: And then there will also be a little Thanksgiving at Shirley’s, where there may be a bit of a Shawshank homage sprinkled in.
Fans will want to know: What is one of the weirdest things in the new episodes that you’ve plotted out so far?
GUARASCIO: What would happen if there were an American version of Inspector Spacetime?
PORT: Chang (Ken Jeong) is naked and wet. And it’s ultimately a good thing.
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