The latest episode of "Community" wasn't only fun for Danny Pudi because he got to dress as his character Abed dressing as Inspector Spacetime, but because he got to act opposite British funnyman Matt Lucas.
The "Little Britain" and "Come Fly With Me" comic guest stars as Abed's email "pen-pal," Toby Davies, who agrees to meet Abed at InspecTiCon, the annual Inspector Spacetime Convention, that Abed and Troy (Donald Glover) attend each year. The rest of the Greendale gang reluctantly agrees to attend the convention, but Toby and another rather attractive Spacetime fan played by Tricia Helfer ("Battlestar Galactica") cause a little friction amongst the study group. And as you can see in the clip below, Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) might be a supervillain.
"I couldn't believe it actually happened," Chicago native Pudi said of getting to work with Lucas and Helfer. "Any time these worlds collide for me it's just a treat, because it's legal for me to see these people and geek out. They have nowhere to run because they're on set and so am I. And they're cool."
Since "Community" first spoofed the British sci-fi series "Doctor Who" by creating "Inspector Spacetime," fans have created for Spacetime a world of his own that includes a web series. Pudi says it's just one example of how involved "Community" fans are with the show, adding that the entire cast appreciates all the love.
"Conventions of Space and Time," which airs at 7 p.m. CT Feb. 21 on NBC, gives Lucas, Pudi and Glover a lot of fun scenes together and is a real treat for any sci-fi nerds in the "Community" fandom. (Including me!) And of course, as things happen at the Con, Abed rarely cracks a smile. Pudi recently told me it was difficult to keep a straight face.
"It's hard every day because I get to work with such great, hilarious, wonderful people," he said. "And I do feel like I have been training [by] working with Donald and Ken and Allison. Working with all of them every day in the study room has prepared me for something like that. But Matt Lucas was incredible."
Pudi talked a little more about the episode, how it explores Troy and Abed's relationship and addresses criticism about the inside "nerdy" jokes on the show. (Read an earlier post from the Pudi interview here.)
The Inspector Spacetime episode deals a lot with the Troy and Abed friendship. How will that play out this season?
Things have always come easy for Troy and Abed. Now what happens when something comes between them? And just like any friendship certain things have to change and I think that that's something we do this year. We realize that certain things are going to be good for Abed that are not going to be good for Troy and vice versa. And that's OK. I think that's the big thing that they come to realize this year. That just because one of them is in the Dreamatorium alone doesn't necessarily mean that's a bad thing. Sometimes it's good to have some alone time in the Dreamatorium. But that is something that's new to their relationship. It's nice to actually see them evolve in a way and see what happens when Troy and Abed disagree about something.
Matt Lucas is hilarious in this episode.
I'm such a huge fan of his. It was so fun to work with someone who just had to pop in and fit into our world so perfectly, but totally brought something different. I think you see that in the episode. He's got a completely different brand of comedy which is so funny. He's one of those guys that you immediately see him in his hat and that outfit and you're like, "This guy is just funny." But also he was just like a really nice guy. So I really enjoyed my time with him that week. They kind of fit perfectly into that world. I really did feel like I was at a real convention.
Is that just a nice little hats off to fans who you've met at Comicon and stuff like that?
I think in some ways. I think like that whole Inspector Spacetime thing has just taken off--that whole world. And I think one of the cool things in that episode, too, is the art department. The world that they built for us is amazing. And so the sets and everything were so real.
A lot of that is inspired by Communicon and the Community fan convention and Comicon and things that we've been to. And the Six Seasons and a Movie Art Show, where we meet all these people that really embraced our show. There's even been a web series about Inspector Spacetime that Travis [Richey] has done.
We're very aware of the fans and their presence with our show. It's nice to kind of give them a little treat, too. A lot of that is inspired by what they've done for our show.
Your response to criticism about the nerdiness of the show?
I think there are a couple things. I've heard that our show can be too inside or the jokes are so specific that they alienate audiences. I've heard that before.
Most of the people I know, I think, like our show. I mean most of them are my family. [Laughs.] But beyond that they tell me they like our show because it is so specific. So I think it's interesting. ... Maybe that's why it struggles but why it also has such loyal fans. It's because it is really specific to these worlds that are true to these characters. And I think that's OK. I have always responded more to really true, specific worlds than to more generalized sort of things.
I would say for any of the stuff that seems like nerd jokes or seems really specific, I know that it really comes from an honest place. We're not just doing it for the sake of doing it. We do it because that's what that world is to these characters. And I think it all starts from being true to Abed's world. The Inspector Spacetime convention, all that stuff, I think everything there is true to who Abed is as a person and what his likes are and his dislikes. And so I think that's what I like about our show. If we stay true to the characters and believe in their worlds I think it's really interesting. It's interesting to see what they like.
Sometimes for me it's difficult too, because I don't know a lot of the references. I don't know some of these things that come along with playing a character who's a pop-culture encyclopedia. But that, to me, is part of the joy of playing Abed. I get to learn about all these fun worlds that I don't know about.
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