Parks and Recreation is back!
The NBC comedy kicks off its sixth season on Thursday night with a special one-hour episode that sees Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) & Co. headed off to London. It sounds like a jolly good time, but their trip is just one step in Leslie's comprehensive plan to hopefully keep her job. The recall campaign will be the least of her worries when she discovers her best friend Ann (Rashida Jones) will be leaving Pawnee. Way to kick a girl while she's down! TVGuide.com hit the set of Parks to get the scoop on what's in store for Pawnee's Parks Department this season, including the impending birth of Ron Swanson's (Nick Offerman) baby, Ann and Chris' (Rob Lowe) exit and Tom's (Aziz Ansari) new love interest:
1. Leslie might be recalled:
At the end of last season, a group of unruly Pawnee residents set their sights on recalling Leslie from office, much to her dismay. Even though Leslie will attack the issue with her usual gusto, things will take a turn for the worse very quickly. "The time up through Ann leaving is a crazy roller coaster because there are a lot big events happening in her life," executive producer Mike Schur says, pointing out that Leslie will really be put through the wringer this season. "There's a list of the most traumatic things that can happen in your life, among them is changing jobs and moving. We looked at that whole list of things and decided to hit a bunch of these markers as signposts for the year, see what happens and try to screw up her life a little bit."
2. Ann and Chris will leave Pawnee:
With Lowe and Jones exiting the series, Ann and Chris will soon make a decision about leaving Pawnee. Why they leave remains to be seen, but Jones says it will be a big turning point for Ann and Leslie. "Amy and Rashida, like Leslie and Ann, are dealing with it in real time," Jones says. Amy's been saying things like, 'She thinks she's leaving, but I'm going to lock her in my trailer.' I'm a little bit in denial about it, too." Schur also teases that Ann will not give birth before leaving Pawnee.
As for Chris, his separation from Ben (Adam Scott) will be very emotional. "I almost started crying when Chris breaks it to Ben that he might be leaving," Schur says. "They're so cute. Part of what we wanted to do in this run-out was remind people that those two guys knew each other for a decade before we ever saw them. They have a very specific and strange friendship that was based on their traveling all over the state together and staying in crummy hotels in weird towns, with Chris pumping everybody up and Ben knocking them down. We made a point of saying that would matter to Ben that Chris is leaving so we shot a really nice story dealing with that. Ben's reaction is really adorable."
3. Ron and Diane are going to have a baby:
The meat-loving, woodworking everyman has finally met his match in Diane, played by Lucy Lawless, who will return in the season premiere. But don't expect Ron Swanson to miss a step when he learns that his lady love is actually pregnant. "With all things, Ron doesn't get his panties in too much of a bundle," Offerman says. "He will deal with the birth of a new child with the same aplomb that he would treat any animal husbandry or gardening. Ron has a very solid disposition, so by and large, he probably will remain unflappable." But don't forget, there's also the possibility of this on the horizon.
4. The group's trip to London:
As part of Leslie's plan to combat the recall, April (Aubrey Plaza) nominates her for an award that takes the group to London. While Leslie's putting her foot in her mouth across the pond, Andy (Chris Pratt) and Ben will be working on expanding their non-profit to England. "Ben, in his infinite wisdom, has for some reason allowed Andy to tag along," Pratt says. "Ben and Andy are going to go talk to this rich Duke played by Peter Serafinowicz who lives in a castle. We're looking for money to start up a branch of Sweetums in the U.K."
Ron, however, is not happy to be in London. "He's been rather duped into the trip," Offerman says. "He, of course, hates Europe. Because of his intimacy with Diane, she talks him into making the trip and tagging along with everyone on a romantic level. Then at the last second, because of the pregnancy, she has a bad bout of morning sickness and doesn't go, but still makes him go and takes pictures for them."
5. Tom gets a real love interest:
Now that Tom Haverford has gotten his life together, it's time for him to actually find a love interest that's compatible with him because — let's be real — Ann and Tom didn't work. Tatiana Maslany, the breakout star of BBC America's sci-fi hit Orphan Black, will play said love interest, a doctor named Nadia. "She comes into the Parks Department ,and Tom is instantly smitten with her and, of course, goes about the wrong way of trying to pursue her, but eventually he's able to make it happen," Ansari says. But first, Tom will have to deal with the mystery person who is trying to set up a competing Rent-a-Swag business. "It's a really cool reveal who it is," he adds.
Stay tuned for more scoop from the cast of Parks and Recreation, which returns Thursday at 8/7c on NBC.