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Danny Pudi on 'Community' Season 4: 'We're Starting All Over'

Community is one of the quirkiest shows on TV, thanks in large part to Danny Pudi's geeky character Abed. It's also one of the most resilient. The series was rescued from the brink of cancellation by loyal fans who staged a flash mob outside NBC’s offices in 2011, so it's no surprise that the cast is also quite buoyant. "We're all still passionate about our show and we believe that we're doing really great work," Pudi said.

Good thing, because the show recently went through some serious upheaval. Creator Dan Harmon left the series last May, and weeks before season four's original October 2012 premiere date, NBC delayed the debut, leaving fans—and the stars—wondering about the fate of the show. The new season will finally premiere this Thursday, Feb. 7.

Pudi, 33, is taking the tumult in stride. "It's been a little tricky, but I do feel like each episode right now is sort of therapy for [the cast]," he said.

Pudi is also acting as spokesman for Speed Stick's "Handle It" campaign, which documents young men's awkward moments—the perfect match for Pudi's nerdy character. "For whatever reason, there's a Danny Pudi throughline with these moments in my life, which I've learned to cherish, because my pain is your joy," he said.

The actor talked to Parade.com about where this season is headed, what it's like to meet the show's loyal fans, and how the cast is handling the show's big changes.

On what's in store for Abed.
"In the premiere, you find Abed reflecting on where we left off at the end of season three. You'll be seeing his fragile state of mind, and how he was affected by closing down the Dreamatorium. Beyond that, this is senior year now at Greendale, and Abed is reflecting on that. What does that mean? What does it mean to look at the study group, who are his first family that he's ever had and the first group of people that truly understand and accept him, and say maybe a year from now we're not all going to be at school together?"

On losing Dan Harmon, the show's creator.
"It's hard to not feel the loss of Dan Harmon. What he created and his writing was so unique and so brilliant in many ways, but I think this is an opportunity for the new writers to put their spin on it and see where else we can go with this study group at Greendale. We have an entirely new crew in addition to the writers, so we've been adjusting to that. A lot of the communication on-set became intuitive with the previous crew, and we're kind of starting all over again with that. I think some people will be saddened by the loss, but I also know that fans are really excited about seeing the study group back together."

On meeting fans of the show.

"When I run into a fan, it's like I ran into Abed. It's wonderful, but it's amazing, too. Our show has all these interesting, layered jokes that when people come up to you, it's not like they say 'Hey.' When they they say, 'Hey, cool, cool, cool,' or they'll start singing the 'La Biblioteca' rap, or they'll do finger guns, or they'll want to do the Troy and Abed handshake. It's little things like that that I think separate our fans and shows how much they connect with the show on a deep level. It's not a show that people just like, it's a show people love."

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On the episode he's most excited about.
"I got to work with Matt Lucas from HBO's Little Britain, and I'm excited for people to see the character he gets to play, and also his outfit, which I thought was flawless. They meet at the Inspector Spacetime convention, so imagine Comic-Con in the world of Greendale and what that might look like. It's always fun when Abed gets to geek out with someone, and Matt's character is exactly like that. The convention is one of the best sets that our set decorators and art department have ever done, so I think fans will really get a kick out of that."

On whether Abed will start dating soon.
"He delivered a baby, so all the ladies out there should be confident in his abilities. He takes direction very well and he'll cook you buttered noodles any time, so we'll see. I think Annie moving in with Troy and Abed will help soften him a little bit."


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