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Community: Puppet-themed episode to air this spring

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Paleyfest Community Puppets

The study group is about to become felt and foam.

NBC will air an episode of Community this spring in which the Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) and his friends are reimagined as puppets, it was announced at a PaleyFest panel for the show on Tuesday night.  In the installment, the gang embark on a balloon ride, crash in the woods, and encounter an amiable mountain man (guest star Jason Alexander). Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) winds up getting the gang to discuss their adventures in the wild and work through their issues through the use of hand puppets; and in flashbacks, we see larger versions of the puppets.

This isn’t the first time that the comedy has transformed its cast into another form for the bulk of an episode: Jeff & co. were seen as stop-motion animation creations in season 2’s “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” and as 8-bit video game characters in season 3’s “Digital Estate Planning.” (Also, this briefly happened in the season 4 premiere.)

The puppets — which were previewed at the panel — are designed and operated by Scott Johnson and Drew Massey, who gave similar treatment to David Boreanaz in an episode of Angel.

Read more:

‘Community’: New producers give you character teases for season 4, talk Chevy Chase and finale

‘Community’: New exec producers David Guarascio and Moses Port reveal season 4 details

‘Community’: James Brolin on playing Jeff Winger’s dad

‘Community’: Jason Alexander to guest-star