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It’s a surprise wedding on NBC’s Parks and Recreation on Thursday when Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Ben (Adam Scott) decide to ditch their formal May date and stage an impromptu ceremony.
Riding the momentum from successfully raising enough funds for Leslie’s planned park (suck it, Councilman Jamm!), the Parks Department will rally against a ticking clock to shift the event from fundraiser to a ceremony worthy of its fearless leader.
“Everybody has a job to fill,” showrunner Mike Schur said during a conference call with reporters Wednesday. “Tom [Aziz Ansari] becomes the efficient and has to get ordained in an hour. Donna [Retta] … for the first time will sing. What’s really nice about [the episode] is in the opening moments of the episode, in order to pull this off in Parks fashion, everyone has to chip in.”
Thursday’s wedding episode, Poehler said, will see both Leslie and Ben let go of their need to be in control and embrace a very Ron Swanson idea — spontaneity — as the wedding becomes less about the formal details than it is about them.
“Leslie is a fun combo of brains and gut, and her brain is operating at the beginning of the episode … but then her gut takes over and she goes with it,” Schur noted of the couple letting go of their reserved space and idea that both of their families needed to be there. “There’s a nice scene in the episode about reading the signs and looking for signs that things are right.”
While the initial plan was to have Scott play a love interest for Leslie, that quickly evolved into something much more permanent once Schur saw the chemistry between the actor and Poehler. “He just gets her and understand who she is and what her goals are,” he noted. “In the season two finale, ‘Freddy Spaghetti,’ they exchange a smile when he walks off, and as soon as I saw that I knew not only were they going to get together but they are never going to break up.”
Schur, Scott and Poehler all noted that once Ben and Leslie tie the knot, the conceit of the show won’t change now that the “will they or won’t they” trope is no longer on the table.
“Part of the joy of the two characters and their relationship is they have very three-dimensional lives and are very committed to each other and their careers, friends and living a full life,” Schur said. “If there’s a trap you can fall into, you have to tell the story repeatedly about the relationship and that can be boring. We don’t have that problem.”
Proof of that will come in Thursday’s second episode, which will see Ben and Leslie return from their honeymoon and Ben start a new job and Leslie get to work on planning a correspondents dinner.
“They’re married now but they also have other aspects of their lives that are important to them,” Schur said, noting that would be what helps he series avoid the “magic is gone” phenomenon that comes when TV couples wed.
Scott said further evidence comes in the penultimate episode of season two — “Master Plan,” which featured both his and Rob Lowe‘s debut. “There’s a lot of foreshadowing of their relationship in the sense that these are two three-dimensional characters who fit together and see things in each other that nobody else really sees. They hit these buttons right off the bat, and there’s more to it from the very start than a simple will-they-or-won’t-they device. Them being married now just fits in naturally with that. It’s not like there’s anything that’s going to be lost by joining them together permanently.”
As for the one thing that could come between the Pawnee power couple, Schur, Scott and Poehler all agreed it’s the folded-up pizza that recently betrayed Ben: calzone. “Leslie and Ben’s bond is so strong and they’re so right for each other I don’t think any other man or woman could cause them to split — but the calzone issue could be a wedge that drives them apart,” Schur said with a laugh. “It’s the two things that Ben cares about most in the world: Leslie and pizza wrapped in pastry dough.”
Parks and Recreation airs two back-to-back episodes Thursday, starting with the wedding at 8:30 p.m. Hit the comments with your thoughts on what you’d like to see for the couple.
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