Parks and Recreation is getting back into the business of, well, parks and recreation.
On Thursday's episode, the infamous Lot 48, which was once the pit that Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) had been so desperate to turn into a park, will return. But it's not Leslie leading the charge this time: April (Aubrey Plaza) wants to turn it into a dog park!
The lot's return, however, won't be the only pain in Leslie's side as she begins to plan for her wedding to Ben (Adam Scott). To find out what a Leslie Knope wedding would look like, TVGuide.com turned to executive producer Mike Schur, who also dished on Joe Biden's appearance, Tom's (Aziz Ansari) new business venture and Andy's (Chris Pratt) future as a police officer. Check it out:
What does a Knope wedding look like?
Mike Schur: The idea that we have had in our heads about the character from the beginning — and certainly her wedding planning would be no different — is that it's not just about her. She's a very community-oriented person and she would want her wedding to symbolize not just her, but everyone she cares about. I'm not going to get into when it's going to happen or what the circumstances are, but the basic idea that we are thinking about is that it would be something that she would want to have be as just a celebration of the town.
What can you tell us about her bachelorette party?
Schur: Well, there is a bachelor/bachelorette party episode that will air in January and it's hard to discuss it without giving something away, but she cares about two things in her life, basically, which is her job and her friends, and there are moments when sometimes it's hard to separate those two parts of her life. I think the bachelorette party would count as one of those times. In order to try to make it Leslie-specific, they do hire a Leslie-specific male stripper, but it's a family show and nothing untoward happens at the bachelorette party that would make people afraid to watch it.
How did the Joe Biden appearance come about? And did the Vice President already know about Leslie Knope's big crush?
Schur: Yes. They were aware of it and their office had let us know that they thought it was really funny. So, when we wanted to shoot in D.C., we felt like, well, in addition to trying to get some U.S. Senators and fancy people to be in the premiere, we ought to try to shoot something with Biden, if we possibly could, that we could air later in the year after the election is over. It came together really easily. It was, obviously, subject to his incredibly busy schedule, being the second most important man on the face of the earth. We wrote the script and sent it to him and they thought it was great and we went and shot it. He was a fan of the show and the people who work in his office are big fans of the show and needless to say they thought it was amusing that there was a TV character, played by a young, attractive, blond-haired lady who had an almost oppressive crush on Joe Biden. I think that really appealed to them, for obvious reasons.
Was this something that Leslie needed to do before she got married, to meet Joe Biden?
Schur: Well, I think that's part of the fun of it. It's Ben's engagement present to her. That is the way that it's brought up. He's a good boyfriend and a fiancé and knows exactly how important it is to her to meet [Biden] someday and so he had the opportunity and he made it happen. So maybe you could think of it as a character rite of passage or something. She needs to get it off her plate.
Lot 48 is finally coming back!
Schur: Yes. That's a big plot development that is starting [Thursday]. There's a renewed interest in the lot behind Ann's (Rashida Jones) house. The episode that airs this week is about April having another idea for what to do with the lot and trying to blow past Leslie and disregard her years of work. The two of them have a little bit of a battle over the lot and then, there's some variables and wild cards thrown in for good measure, but it does kick off an arc where the idea of how to transform that empty lot into something that the community can use begins anew.
Will this be the season-long arc similar to the Harvest Festival or Leslie's Election — or the lot in Season 1?
Schur: Yeah. It is for a while. It's not going to be for the rest of the season by any stretch, but there's a chunk of episodes between this week and the end of January or early February that are about this project. They have an enemy that they're racing, a common enemy, which is also revealed on Thursday. It's like a mini arc, but it is an arc, where they're trying to figure out whether they can capitalize on this thing that kicked off the whole series.
So April is really stepping up in the Parks Department?
Schur: Yeah. Well, at the very least, I think the point is that she went to D.C. and she had some nice experiences of being part of something that was a little bit more professional than what she's used to and she is still the same person. She's not going to suddenly go and work at a consulting firm or something, but she has a little bit more ambition than maybe she did before and a little bit more of a taste for achieving things. This story line is capitalizing on that newfound excitement about actually doing something with her life, instead of just sitting around reading magazines. Again, that's something that's a slow burn that's playing out over a very long period of time, but it definitely starts this week.
How will Leslie continue the struggle with city politics and the decisions she makes?
Schur: The idea is this is her first year in this job and part of the long-term story for her is going to be figuring out how it all works and some of that is through trial and error, and some of it is through getting you're a-- kicked by other city counselors, and some of it is just by poking around and seeing how you do things. So there's a season-long education of Leslie Knope arc that we're playing where she is really settling into this new job and figuring out what to do and what not to do and this lot is part of that. The new emphasis on this project and how she can get it through or not get it through plays on that story, basically, of her trying to navigate her way through her new job.
Now that Ben's not going to be working with Jen, what will he do in Pawnee? Is he able to actually get back into city government?
Schur: Well, I believe the next episode actually deals with that exact issue. It deals with him saying, "Okay, I'm getting married now and I need to figure out what my career is going to be." He has a come-to-Jesus moment about what the rest of his life is going to be like professionally. There's a fun story line that's involved with that.
And Ben's getting pulled into Tom's new business venture this week, which seems to actually have a chance to be successful.
Schur: Yeah. I think there's every chance that it could work. He's a guy who's had a lot of really bad ideas and he also just naturally is a very consumerist-minded person, who spends a ton of his money and even sometimes money he doesn't have on fancy clothes and hats and cravats and scarves and shoes and stuff. We wanted to design a business for him that would be something that would be completely organic of who the character already is and something that wouldn't require him to buy a bunch of stuff. He's going to get a storefront and he's going to open a store and we're going to track the business, as it goes along, and see all the ups and downs of him being a small business owner on the side. The point of it was to say Entertainment 720 was nothing. That was just like we want to be rich and famous and drink champagne and have hot ladies walking around. It was not an actual business idea, but the point of this one is supposed to be that it is an actual business idea. I think that that will be reflected in the way it plays out.
And what about Andy and his quest to join the police force?
Schur: Yes. There are episodes that are leading up to that. The test, the official cop exam is sometime in January. You're going to see him prepare for it and then, actually, take the test and the results will unveil themselves at that time.
Stay tuned for more scoop on the return of Tammy, Ann's surprising new adventure and the introduction of Jerry's wife. Plus: Will there be Treat Yo Self Part 2?
Check out an exclusive first look at Thursday's episode, which airs at 9:30/8:30c on NBC.
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