Parks and Recreation Season 5: Amy Poehler, Adam Scott and Michael Schur Talk About The Show’s Big Development

Parks and Recreation Season 5 Episode 5 Halloween Surprise (3)

Last Thursday’s episode of Parks and Recreation, “Halloween Surprise,” certainly surprised many loyal fans with the proposal Ben made toward Leslie. TV Equals was able to learn more about the inception of that scene through the conference call featuring series creator Michael Schur and stars Amy Poehler and Adam Scott.

Coming up with ideas for Parks and Recreation

“We spent a lot of time just poking around the internet, trying to see what issues the government’s dealing with,” said Schur when discussing how episode ideas come about. “They’re obviously large stories. Sometimes, there are local stories that take on national importance…so we just try to anticipate what’s going to be important in people’s minds, and it’s a lot easier to do that in an election year because everything is so heightened and…every minor controversy gets amped up. So there’s nothing special–we don’t have a crystal ball–but it’s pretty easy to tell which issues are going to capture the imagination of people across the country.”

Schur also added, “I’m constantly amazed at how absurd the things coming out of politicians’ mouths [are], so I don’t think we’re in any danger of running out of material.”

The proposal

Poehler said she loved reading and acting out the proposal scene between Leslie and Ben.

“[W]hen I read that scene, I cried because I was so happy that I had my job  at Parks, and that I got to have that scene with Adam and that my show wrote it because I knew it would be great,” she said, laughing. “It’s very rare now as an actor when you read a scene you know it’s going to be great. You can just kind of see it. So when we were shooting the scene, I was very excited we were going to be able to do it because I had been really looking forward to do it, and I was really happy for Leslie. So I think the mood on set was really kind of a joyous one…Adam and I–we were really happy to have such a well-written scene and we care abut our characters so we were kind of excited this could happen for them.”

Scott also said  he was really happy about the scene as well. “I also felt like this was a really big deal for all of us. We are, of course, 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 all right because we all care about them,” he said. “I can say, speaking for myself that I care about them quite deeply. Knowing the scene was coming, it made me a little nervous about it, but it made me really happy–happy to be able to do it, happy for the character. So the day we were doing it, like Amy said, it was kind of joyous and also, such a real feeling that it was special and we wanted it to be special for the fans and for the characters[.]”

When the proposal was written

Schur said he wrote the proposal scene while some of the episodes were still being filmed in Washington.

“We knew before we started  shooting anything, because…in the writer’s room during pre-production, we broke out the first half-dozen episodes…and what we realized is that we wanted them to do a good job in Washington, and what that meant was that [Ben] was going to get an opportunity to keep going with that job,” he said “…[S]o then it became the issue of what causes a guy whose career is kind of moving in this cool direction to come back to tiny Pawnee, Indiana, and there’s only one thing that would really do that, and that’s Leslie. So we just decided to shape the episode around him deciding, ‘Look, Leslie is my priority and that everything else is in second place.’ So we knew before we started the season that we were going to have him propose and come back.”

What to expect for Ben and Leslie

Schur was mum as to what fans can expect for Ben and Leslie now that he’s popped the question. “The episode was called ‘Halloween Surprise’…because it’s part of the show’s DNA to not telegraph where we’re going. And there’s a certain kind of playbook that you’re told to run, or taught how to run from watching TV shows, and we try to just do things that are surprising,” he said.  “That’s very hard to do in this day and age. The moment anybody does anything, it’s leaked onto the internet. So we tried really, really hard to be hard-to-pin-down in terms of where we’re going. I dont’ want to give anything away at all, but…I think the central element of both comedy and good storytelling in general is surprise, whether it’s comedy or drama. So, I’d like to believe that the path that we’re choosing to take will be satisfying but also surprising people.”

Parks and Recreation airs every Thursday at 9:30/8:30c on NBC.