“Parks and Recreation” laid a big surprise on the viewers in “Halloween Surprise” and no, it wasn’t Jerry’s fart attack — though that was one of the components designed to throw viewers off, says creator Michael Schur.
“When I read that scene, I cried because I was so happy that I had my job at ‘Parks’ and that I got to do that scene with Adam,” says Poehler. “It’s very rare as an actor when you read a scene and you know it’s going to be great.”
“I was really happy for Leslie,” she continues. “The mood on set was really kind of a joyous one … we were excited this was happening for them.”
“I felt the same way,” Scott echoes. “This was a really big deal for all of us. We, of course, are well aware that these are fictional characters that we are playing on television, but we also want them to be happy and want them to be alright. We all care about them. I can say I care about them quite deeply, so knowing the scene was coming, I was maybe a little nervous about it, but mostly just happy about it.”
The proposal has been in the works for awhile now, as Schur tells the press that they knew this was where Ben’s Washington D.C. arc was going to end up.
“What we realized was we wanted Ben to do a good job in Washington,” says Schur. “And what that meant was he was going to get an opportunity to keep going with that job … so then it became an issue with what causes a guy whose career is moving on this direction to come back to tiny Pawnee, Indiana and that’s Leslie. So we decided to shape the episode around that, that this is his priority.”
Since the writers and actors have known since shooting began what was in store, they then had to undertake the task of keeping it a surprise for the viewers.
“It’s part of the show’s DNA to try to not telegraph where we’re going. There’s a certain kind of playbook that you’re told to run or that you’ve learned how to run by watching TV shows and we try to do things that are surprising,” says Schur. “It’s hard to do in this day and age because the moment anybody tries to do anything it’s leaked on the internet.”
Schur also adds that where the show is going in the coming episodes will also be a surprise for viewers — “I would like to believe that the path that we’re choosing to take will be satisfying but also surprising to people.”
“Parks and Recreation” airs Thursday nights at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.