How Community's Dan Harmon Cobbled Together A Comedy Dream Team For Season 5

After being publicly fired from the show he created, it seemed Dan Harmon was done with "Community" forever. Rarely, if ever, had a mainstream U.S. television network rehired a volatile showrunner after parting ways with them. Then again, "Community" always had a David and Goliath spirit and a surprising resilience to it, so anything was possible. Still, when NBC and Sony Pictures TV decided to bring Harmon back and hand him the keys to his show once again after an underwhelming fourth season without him, Harmon didn't have time to take a victory lap. Instead, as he relayed to Uproxx in an interview, he had one question: "Who the hell is gonna write the show"?

Because the negotiations to get him back took a little while to iron out, Harmon and his core team felt like they were already behind the eight ball when it came to season 5. "So like the first act of an underdog baseball movie, we began scouting for talent among the craziest misfits and Shanghaiable sailors that we could find," Harmon explained, and ultimately, they ended up luring in a murderer's row of terrific writers who helped return the show to its former glory.

Harmon explained that they ended up hiring "a lot of like smart Onion and Lampoon people that were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and walking into a show that they had already heard was gonna be hard and also knew it was gonna be weirder than any situation in history. So we really had no time to do anything — we just had to start reading scripts and having meetings back to back, these 10 minute-long meetings with writers out of my animation studio in Burbank."

A comedy dream team

One of the "crazy misfits" they hired was Matt Roller, who had never written a produced script before and was thrown into the deep end by joining the "Community" writing staff as his first major job. He later went on to write for "Rick and Morty," "The Goldbergs," "Archer," "Mr. Mayor," and this year's Netflix series "Agent Elvis," among others.

Dan Harmon also liked the work of Dan Guterman, a New York-based writer working on "The Colbert Report" whom Harmon said needed to be "seduced away" from that series to join "Community." He has since gone on to become a writer and producer on "Rick and Morty."

Another major hire for season 5 was Erik Sommers, a "Happy Endings" writer who had just finished his contract with Sony Pictures Television, leaving him with, as Harmon described it, "no job prospects and a house in the Palisades and a kid that had just been born. And so we scooped him up." Chris McKenna, Harmon's right-hand man behind the scenes on "Community," had worked with Sommers before and vouched for the writer's professionalism and his ability to adapt. Sommers joined the staff as a co-executive producer, and eventually went on to collaborate with McKenna on the screenplays for films like "The LEGO Batman Movie," "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle," "Ant-Man and the Wasp," and the Tom Holland-led Spider-Man trilogy.

Carol Kolb ("Brooklyn Nine-Nine"), Ryan Ridley ("Renfield"), Alex Rubens ("Key and Peele"), Donald Diego ("How I Met Your Father"), and Monica Padrick ("Central Park") also joined the staff that year, giving the writers' room some fresh blood and helping to bail out the sinking ship of a show that had nearly been fully scuttled.

You know the rest: "Community" regained its reputation, ran for a sixth season, and now, at long last, has a movie on the way.