NBC’s ‘Community’ season 5: Dan Harmon on that Chevy Chase surprise

If there was one thing we absolutely did not expect to see on the “Community” premiere Thursday night, it was the surprise cameo of Chevy Chase. Everyone involved had managed to keep it a secret (including the media), and it was a brilliant little send-off to the Pierce Hawthorne character that we never really had last year. So in spite of all the bitterness and the controversy that was once there, Pierce got a goodbye that felt justified and right.

Having this cameo happen though, was not necessarily easy, mostly because the gist of Dan Harmon’s statement on making it happen to IGN suggests that Chase was not actually allowed to be on set by the terms of his exit from the show, and instead, they had to work around it so that they could have him film a scene away from the primary location, and then add him in later:

“I wasn’t there when Chevy departed, but I know he had a specific agreement with Sony in which the terms of his departure were contractual and there was an agreement on both sides. So I was able to say to the studio, ‘What if we were shooting him on a separate stage with no other actors around. Would that be allowable?’ And they said, ‘Yes’ … I knew Chevy would be on board … At the end of it all he always loved doing the show and would be more than willing to come back. He’s very passionate about making people laugh. So I texted him, and he said, ‘Absolutely, I’ll do it.’”

Harmon also explained that having him appear via hologram felt perfect, given that we know already that Pierce is exceeding rich; however, we also know that he is the sort of guy who believes he has his finger on the pulse of technology, when really his definition of technology is “what was advanced in 1980.” This was totally a la “Star Wars,” and it was all sorts of glorious.

Now that we have said all of this, it feels like Jonathan Banks is a perfect replacement at the study group table in that he brings something new, but also embodies the same sort of “elder statesman” role.

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