Community has been the subject of much online chatter since its debut on NBC in 2009, and my college pal Maggie Bandur has worked on the show for two years as a writer (she’d previously written for shows like Malcolm In The Middle, My Boys). The third episode of the season, “Conventions Of Space And Time,” is set at a convention honoring Inspector Spacetime, the British sci-fi-epic-within-the-show that pays a bit of homage to Doctor Who—and she wrote the episode, a fact that makes perfect sense if you know her. Last October, I visited her on set and actually saw a snippet of this episode being shot, and watching the scene I saw in person translated to the small screen was pretty exciting. In honor of her episode airing this week, we had a friendly chat about conventions, her career, a Doctor Who joke she’s had in her back pocket for two years, and why she hasn’t taken the Twitter plunge.
Obviously, I know you. We should put that out on the table.
Yeah, I don’t know if there are other people still on the call, but we’ve known each other for 20 years.
[Laughs] I watched the episode with my knowledge of you in mind. But I really liked all the details of the convention. Also it was fun to see the scene I had watched being filmed when I visited the set, at the beginning.
Oh you’re right, you did see that!
Yeah! That was neat. I really liked the background action that was going on during that scene as well. So you’ve been to some conventions before…
I’ve been to Comic-Con a few times, and it’s sort of funny, because they were filming some behind-the-scenes stuff for the DVD and I think when they interviewed me I was intellectually distant about comic book conventions. Then I was like, “Wait, I’ve been there on my own.” I’ve also gone down with the show; they had a panel the last two years. But yeah, I’ve been to Comic-Con, and I’m sort of exactly what the real comic book fans hate—I started going when they started having movies, TV shows, celebrities, that sort of thing. I’ve never been super into comic books, although I’ve absorbed a lot of knowledge about comic books, so I can have a conversation with someone about them. Somehow, I know Cyclops’s father is a space pirate, and I don’t know why.
[Laughs] Community seemed like a perfect place [to have a convention-themed episode]; all that pop-culture knowledge was actually lucrative.
I liked how much detail there was in the episode—even the badges worn by the convention-goers had bar codes on them.
We have an absolutely amazing art department. The set designer is Denise Pizzini, and all our props—you see Comic-Con [depicted] on TV, and it’s usually a couple of people in costumes. [...]