Shave your Twitter beards and get ready to go back to school because "Community" is finally returning this week (Thurs., Mar. 15, 8 p.m. ET on NBC)!
I was on set while they shot this week's big, romantic episode, "Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts," which features a Boyz II Men-soundtracked proposal, a possible wedding, a potential new business partnership and the return of Malcolm-Jamal Warner, a.k.a. Shirley's (Yvette Nicole Brown) baby daddy and former ex Andre.
Brown, Warner, Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Danny Pudi, Donald Glover and Gillian Jacobs teased drunken breakdowns, wedding planning, surprising new sides of certain characters and what Troy and Abed's idea of "normal" actually looks like.
So Andre proposes again? We haven't seen him in quite a while.
Yvette Nicole Brown: "Mmhmmm. Yeah, it's been a while -- Shirley's referenced baby Ben a few times, and life is going on, but this is the first time in this season that we get to see Malcolm. He's been busy -- he's got his own show now, so we just now got to steal him from 'Reed Between the Lines' for a bit."
Alison Brie: "He's very sexy. And he goes all out in this episode."
Joel McHale: "He can dance, too. That man can do anything."
Malcolm-Jamal Warner: "I had to come back and represent for the bad ex-husbands around the world!"
Andre proposing to Shirley with "Motown Philly" Boyz II Men backup singers:
Will we actually see a wedding?
Yvette Nicole Brown: "Wow. That's something I'm not gonna answer. [Laughs.] There is a rehearsal and ... Shirley has a couple of options in her life right now, and she's exploring both of those options. And not everybody's happy about that. It's life -- you make a decision for yourself and change and grow as a human being, and sometimes your family and friends can follow you there and support you, and sometimes they're threatened. So she's in the middle of that fight with a couple of people in her life, not just Andre."
Malcolm-Jamal Warner: "There's definitely a little bit of a fight ... a kerfuffle, if you will, between Shirley and Andre. And you see it and you can only imagine what happens behind closed doors with them. [Laughs.] I think he's got some ulterior motives, but yeah ... being Mr. Mom is kind of taking its toll -- it's a little more than he can handle --and he's realizing having Shirley back home to help with the family would be nice."
And the wedding takes place at school?
Danny Pudi: "Why leave Greendale's campus when we've got everything you need right here? And everyone here has their Internet minister license, so anybody here can do your wedding."
It actually looks pretty in here -- I hear Britta had a lot to do with the planning and decorations.
Gillian Jacobs: "Maybe people are surprising themselves in this episode. Maybe different sides of people that they're not comfortable with are being revealed. Maybe."
So Troy and Abed are trying to be "normal" for Shirley's wedding?
Joel McHale: "But, of course, their normal is very odd. It's bizarre."
Donald Glover: "Yeah, we're normal in this episode. It's weird ... it's like a slightly exaggerated version of yourself. Really affable and pleasant. Everything's pleasant. It's like watching 'Family Ties.'"
Danny Pudi: "In real life, I love dancing at weddings. If we can't celebrate these two people getting together and loving each other by doing the worm in their honor ... [Laughs.] I don't think the worm is happening here though, but there is some dancing. I usually get drunk at weddings, and there's an open bar here, but there's enough people drunk here that Abed doesn't really need to be. You've gotta pace yourself. While we can all agree that this is one couple that should be together, this is another opportunity for everyone to be like, 'How do we feel about marriage?' Shirley's definitely fearful about how Troy and Abed are going to behave. We have sort of a history of finding our own adventures during other people's big moments."
The gang debates marriage:
But not everyone is behaving -- looks like Jeff and Britta get a little bit wasted.
Alison Brie: "They get drunk."
Danny Pudi: "Surprise, surprise -- did you see them on Troy's 21st birthday? They're the ones, every time it's someone else's day, they get sloshed."
Gillian Jacobs: "Duh. Britta and Jeff, ego, alcohol, insecurity, daddy issues all combined ... at a wedding."
Joel McHale: "Crazy, huh? Jeff's got some issues. A lot of alcohol, a lot of pent up memories. Amid his in a drunken stupor, he goes back to his childhood memories. I think it's a crack in the shell ... he knows it, but he doesn't want to face it. But not much comes out after this. That's what's so great about Dan is he only lets it out a little bit at a time. It's not like, 'And now I'm changed!'"
I see a lot of family members here today for Shirley and Andre ... Malcolm is still so well known for being part of a very famous TV family ... it got me doing some wishful thinking.
Yvette Nicole Brown: "Wouldn't it be great if we just had Bill Cosby or Phylicia Rashad somewhere in the audience? Just sitting ... can you imagine? The joy if I would've walked in and Phylicia Rashad or Dr. Bill Cosby, PhD, was just in the audience? That would be so awesome. But no, unfortunately I have not seen either of the Huxtable parents here today."
Even with her own wedding going on, Shirley has time to team with someone very unlikely. Pierce? Really?
Yvette Nicole Brown: "As you know, Ken's character, Senor Chang, burned down the Hot & Brown in his detective episode. So since Shirley wants to open a restaurant or a brownie shop or whatever, there's an idea of her and Pierce joining forces and maybe starting their own little sandwich shop here on campus."
Alison Brie: "Pierce has always kind of had a thing for Shirley -- he used to send her dirty emails in the first season. But I don't know if this sandwich shop is necessarily gonna happen ... there are a lot of obstacles in their way!"
There's a Shirley reveal that this wonderful high voice -- what you all call the Miss Piggy voice -- is actually a turn-on?
Yvette Nicole Brown: "I laughed so hard when I realized this. The dual Shirley voices -- the high and the low -- was something that I came up with to kind of show that she turns on a dime. I'd always talked to Dan Harmon like, 'I don't even know what Shirley's voice really is. I don't think the high one or the low one is her real voice.' Then I come to find out in this episode that when Shirley is sounding like Miss Piggy, she's being sexy. Andre likes it. That's her 'Hey, baby' come hither voice. [Laughs.] Which now makes me want to go back and watch every episode and see ... Shirley has been flirting with a lot of people! She flirts with everyone! 'Hello!' How does that turn anyone on except for Kermit the Frog? And it doesn't even work for Kermit!"
Malcolm-Jamal Warner: "Yep! [Laughs.] When I read that, I was like, 'Oh, that is hilarious.' The cool thing about this episode is it really gives good insight into Shirley's life. Normally you just see her with the other castmembers, but this is a great episode for her to kind of show another side."
Can we please finally get an episode where Shirley and Donald [Glover] get to play together? Do you guys fight behind the scenes or something?
Yvette Nicole Brown: "I've never had one episode with him! Me and Donald are secretly lovers, and I think they're afraid ... I'll speak for myself, I don't want to speak for my love, but I personally feel that if me and Donald are in the same frame, the heat of us just being that close to each other will probably burn the HD out of television. So, for safety's sake ... Shirley and Troy do not talk outside of the study room."
Anything else you all are dying to have happen on the show?
Danny Pudi: "I just want to deliver another baby."
Joel McHale: "Dan said he was going to put my character through hell, and that I'd possibly meet my dad, so that's really interesting and exciting to me, because Jeff has major issues, and it's really funny to rub against those."
Any other weddings on the horizon? Britta and Jeff maybe?
Gillian Jacobs: "We've already done it, right? In this room. You could just do the deed really quickly ... it's almost like eloping, but in the study room."
"Community" returns Thursday, March 15, 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
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