Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) has come a long way from that overeager deputy director of the Parks Department trying to navigate the bureaucracy of building a park in the small town of Pawnee. Parks and Recreation's heroine is still as enthusiastic, but now she's attained several of her life's goals, including finding a female best friend in Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones), getting elected to City Council and getting married to Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott). But her resolve will be tested when she must find a new path after getting recalled from office.
The NBC comedy's 100th episode, which airs Thursday at 8:30/7:30c, will follow Leslie's final hours in office as she attempts to figure out what's next. TVGuide.com caught up with executive producer Mike Schur to get the scoop:
Congrats on 100 episodes! What do you think the key to Parks' success has been?
Mike Schur: I think the unstoppable force of Amy Poehler has a lot to do with it. The cast is so undeniably great and funny ... I really firmly believe that a long time in the distant future, there will be a moment when people who aren't even born yet will say, "What? Those people were all in a show together?" It's going to be mind-boggling that they were ever in the same place at the same time. It's like the Ocean's 11 cast of comedy.
Who's been your favorite guest star?
Schur: That's almost impossible to answer because we've had so many. Kathryn Hahn is in the 100th episode and she's in two scenes and she's so good... Ben Schwartz, Jenny Slate. But it's so hard to say because what about Louis [C.K.]? And what about Justin Theroux? We've been incredibly lucky that we've gotten so many awesome people to be on the show; it's like an embarrassment of riches. Also Henry Winkler as their dad!
Your dream guest star, as we know, is Bill Murray as Pawnee's mayor. What would you do to get him on the show?
Schur: The thing about Bill Murray is there's nothing you can do right? You can just keep saying it out loud into an open void and hope that whatever planet he's on at this moment, doing whatever crazy activity he's decided to do, hopefully the words ride the wind to his ears. If there were something I could do, I would do it, but I don't think there is. I think he's living on a higher level of existence than the rest of America, right? So I just have to hope that someday he sees the show, if he hasn't already, and decides to be on it and we'll be ready.
What's going to happen in the 100th episode?
Schur: [Leslie is] literally cleaning out her office and feeling a little bit fragile, as you can imagine. There's this general sense that she's at this giant crossroads in her life. She sees a particular Hail Mary last-second avenue that she can maybe go down to change her fortunes. The episode is about her coming to terms with everything that's happened to her. There's some really fun guest appearances and there's a fun surprise at the end of the episode. Leslie and Tom (Aziz Ansari) and a bunch of people in the episode are at a crossroads in their lives, and I think it's about being in those moments of doubt and indecision and feeling like you're not walking down those roads alone.
Will we find out in the 100th episode what Leslie is going to do next?
Schur: Not necessarily in the 100th. Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe leave in Episode 13, so in those episodes that come after the 100th are about the readjustment and about them leaving. We begin to explain pretty quickly what her future is going to look like and how she is going to conduct herself.
How do you think the series changes once Rob and Rashida leave?
Schur: It's a lot less good-looking. That's the main thing. We're losing Leslie's best friend, we're losing a lot of comic energy and we're losing a relationship that has come a very long way over the course of the series. We had to figure out a way to replace that energy. Hopefully this show will feel like it has a new path and new direction. It's very sad. I've been editing the last few episodes and they're both really talented people.
Finally, is there anything in the history of Parks that you wish you had done differently?
Schur: Now that the episodes are re-airing on Esquire and SFX and WGN, my TiVo is picking them up. Occasionally I watch old episodes and go, "Why the hell? Why did I do that? What was I thinking? Why did I put that edit there? Why isn't that faster? Why didn't I write a better joke?" So on a microcosmic level, absolutely a million billion trillion things, but on a macro level, no, there's nothing I wish I had done differently. I feel like every twist and turn and every bump and bruise and every up and down was part of this thing that just organically evolved over a long period of time and I just couldn't be happier about the whole thing in general.
Parks and Recreation's 100th episode airs Thursday at 8:30/7:30c on NBC.