TODAY   |  January 02, 2014

‘Community’ stars: We’re still stuck in school

Gillian Jacobs and Jim Rash are two of the stars of the NBC show “Community,” which is about to start its fifth season. They tell Hoda Kotb and Carson Daly that show creator Dan Harmon is one of the most ambitious writers in TV, and Jacobs jokes that her roles before “Community” were dark and depressing.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> happens when a bit of misfits find each other at a college. we're guessing you've never seen "community."

>> the eccentric ensemble stars gillian jacobs as a student at greendale community college and jim rash as dean pelton. let's take a look.

>> whoever is watching this -- oh, wait. i'm out of data minutes.

>> the whole world will be watching this on the 1st of next month.

>> do something. distract them.

>> i already like it. you guys are great. so glad you are here. we're so happy you are back for a fifth season. what is that like every year wondering when this time of year comes up, like, are we coming back?

>> it's like a long group hug . we don't know if we'll see each other again. you don't want to let go.

>> christmas came a little early. you weren't waiting until the very end, were you?

>> we knew we were going to premiere in january, i think in the fall, which is always nice to know when you are on the air. moms like to know that kind of stuff.

>> for people who don't watch the show, do they need to binge watch all the shows prior to tonight's season premiere or can they just jump in.

>> it would be great if they wanted to binge watch, but what's great about this season it's almost a repilot because joel's character comes back as a teacher. so it's sort of a nice introduction of all of the characters yet evolves them.

>> joel's character becomes a teacher. how does this change the dynamic.

>> it's going to change yours. i think it's the dean's wet dream that he has sort of got him -- power over him. so it was the dean's idea. he pulls him in. it really does redefine the relationships for the whole cast.

>> well, yeah, because we've been at the school for four years. then you have to decide, have they graduated? none of us are very good at school, so it's reasonable that we haven't graduated but all of our roles are shifting within the school this year. you'll see a different dynamic.

>> the writing is so strong. you wrote an episode last year. what was it like. as you read tonight's script when you read it, did you know right away?

>> you knew right away. everyone is back at the table. the team is back together. not that we didn't have that feel bug you can't not have community without --

>> the nuance jokes. a great joke in the beginning of the episode in the school and the p.a. announcement. it says greendale community college voted second best community college by greendale . they voted themselves second. not even -- is that the harmon touch?

>> i think it is.

>> i think it's the harmon touch. i also think he has more ambition than any other tv writer i've ever worked with to try to do action episodes and animated episodes. everything we've done on that show. that's dan's ideas. he knows the character better than anyone else. you feel like you are in safe hands.

>> i didn't know the background of you and the amount of writing you do outside of your own show.

>> i came through the groundlings which is a theater in l.a., and was writing for quite a while and my writing partner and i got involved -- got the job with "the descendants" a couple years ago.

>> he won an oscar.

>> we were waiting.

>> but yes, thank you. that was for you to cue up. and you did a great job. but, yeah, it's been a passion of mine to write. we wrote "the way, way back" a movie out this past summer. it's been a world that i'm as interested in as acting.

>> and gillian, for you, a lot of people are just meeting you on "community." you had a long career before this. tell us what teed this up?

>> well, it was completely the opposite. it was really dark, depressing independent films . so i played a lot of lost women who perhaps found themselves working as exotic dancers or --

>> want to go back and watch this. what's it called?

>> we were talking the other day about what we got pigeon holed as. yours was prostitutes. i was sexually ambivalent.

>> we're excited about the premiere episode. congrats. thanks for seeing