Danny Pudi Talks ‘Community’ Stop-Motion Christmas Episode and ‘Farscape’
“The episode is ‘Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas,’” Pudi said in a conference call with the media. “The episode starts off like a typical community episode. Cold open, we’re in the cafeteria, Dean Pelton is over the speaker. The only difference is it’s stop motion. Abed notices and he thinks it’s a very special Christmas because we’ve gone to a new medium, stop motion. Abed believes the only reason he’s in stop motion is to find the meaning of Christmas. They go on a journey with the aid of Professor Duncan who believes he needs to help figure out what’s in Abed’s mind. He even says at one time, ‘What emotional crisis did you have to have this delusion?’ Abed says it’s not a delusion. We have a magical journey including through Gumdrop Road which is a place I’ve always wanted to go.”
Like all holiday classics, Abed and the “Community” gang learn something by the end. “It starts in this place where something has triggered this new perspective from Abed because every year he has a special thing with his family on Christmas but something’s a little different this year. Through it all, with the study group’s help, of course at the end we all come together and discover the meaning of Christmas individually and as a group. There are moments of absurdity but it’s grounded in logic and reality. It goes to these places where with stop motion I think we’re able to go a little further with the emotional depth and sadness of some of the characters. I think it will rival ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’ for our generation.”
“Community” already got deep this year with an episode on religion, where Abed becomes a messiah to Greendale. “Uncontrollable Christmas” is profound in a more secular way.
“I think that one was a little bit more about the life of Jesus and the bible. It was a little bit more Christianity based and I think there was a little bit more about religion in that one. The last Christmas episode we talked about different religions, and we talk a little bit, but in this one it’s not as much about religious differences as it is about our characters and the meaning of Christmas for all of us. We even talk about ‘seasons greetings’ vs. ‘merry Christmas.’ There is a little bit more of Abed’s journey to figuring out the meaning of Chrsitmas and the study group coming together at the end. I would say definitely less religious but still very full of meaning, not only Christmas. Abed needs to figure out the meaning of Christmas. The study group comes together on a mini mission in one day, probably in one hour. It’s more focused, also because a lot of it’s coming from one character’s point of view. It’s less about the meta and more about crap, how do we get out of here?’”
Pudi hasn’t seen the finished animation yet, but he did get to visit the studio where eight animators were manipulated his stop motion likeness. “It’s very bizarre because you’re looking at a version of yourself. In my case, it’s definitely an enhanced and better looking version. The eyebrows are fuller, the forehead is smaller. I think I’m more handsome. I’ve got a nicer jaw line. I have actually the same sized legs which I don't know if that’s a good thing, but it’s very weird and bizarre. It’s just really fun. The first time I met one of the animators, I saw her away from set and she was like, ‘I recognize you because I’ve been working on your doll.’ That’s definitely another first. That’s the first time someone’s recognized me from a doll they made of me.”
Puppetry plays a role in this week’s episode too. Going out to celebrate Troy’s 21st birthday, Abed gets into a “Farscape” debate. “I do have a conversation with someone regarding ‘Farscape’ and the differences between season one and season three. I think Abed is very excited to discuss ‘Farscape’ with someone because there’s not many people in Abed’s life that he can. Tomorrow night’s episode is a really sweet episode, Troy’s 21st birthday party, so the gang goes to celebrate his 21st birthday party. I don't think we’ve done that very often where you see our group interacting with people outside of Greendale while we’re still together. That’s always interesting, how would Abed and Troy interact with a regular customer at a bar. How would an outsider perceive this group of knuckleheads. That’s another episode where Abed learns a lesson. A lot of people learn a lesson. I think ‘Farscape’ is just the means to the end.”
For research, Pudi put on a few “Farscape” episodes. “It freaked me out right away with some of the aliens. They’re very alien looking with human qualities but there is a fantasy element I like because as a kid I thought okay, if it is possible for me to make out with an alien woman, that would be an exciting thing. Watching ‘Farscape’ definitely rekindled some of those memories I am human though. I just want everybody to be clear of that, and married so don’t tell my wife.”
That takes “Community” through the end of 2010. Pudi’s already at work on next year’s batch. “We just did an episode where we get to put on a drug play. Anti-drug play, let’s be clear about that. Every script I get I’m just really, really excited to see what’s next and where we’re going. I feel like I’m turning back into a 5 – 10-year-old. The fact I get to do that as an adult with a bank account makes me really excited. My mom can’t get mad at me. When you get to play in a blanket fort, put on an anti-drug play… these are things an adult can’t get away with, or at least you’d be monitoring his behavior.”
“Community” airs Thursdays at 8/7c on NBC.