Parks and Recreation celebrates 100 episodes this Thursday (NBC, 8:30/7:30c), and the comedy is packing the momentous half-hour with enough surprises, cameos and big character reveals to make Leslie Knope proud.
For starters, as executive producer Mike Schur and the cast reveal below, Andy’s back (and sleepy), and there’s plenty of baby talk. Plus: Stars Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe assure us that Ann and Chris aren’t leaving Pawnee — forever, that is.
Read on to find out what else is in store for the big outing.
BIG MOMENTS | “We wanted to have it have the characters going through milestones,” previews Schur of the landmark installment. “Certain things are occurring for a number of characters that are [at a] crossroads, and it’s hard to really talk about it. But we also wanted to just celebrate the first 100 episodes in small ways, so we have a number of characters from the past that do cameos, that are involved in stories… It’s part of the DNA of our show to have some surprises in episodes, so there’s a couple of big surprises.”
BEST COUPLE EVER | Having been recalled, Leslie is grappling with her last day in office. Good thing she has a supportive hubby by her side. “Ben and Leslie, as usual, are a very good team and are trying to work on things together,” says Amy Poehler. With the official episode description teasing her “plans for the future with Ben,” could a baby soon be on the way? “They’re just putting their heads down and getting to work,” hedges Adam Scott. “For now, they’re trying to keep their heads above water.” Speaking of crying infants…
GIRL OR BOY? | Chris and Ann reach a rite of passage in their new life together when they find themselves “debating whether or not we want to find out the gender of our baby, which I know is a big deal for couples,” describes Jones. “In a weird way, it’s the only surprise you have. You’re doing so much planning and so much preparation, so it’s hard. Also, you don’t want to have expectations of one thing and get the other thing, and then feel like you’re somehow disappointed about the gender of your baby. So we’re dealing with that with Dr. Saperstein.” And although the couple is on its way out of Pawnee, Jones says there’s “absolutely” a chance the two will reappear later in the season. After all, they’re not moving super far away, and “the Leslie babysitting episode is inevitable,” adds Lowe.
WELCOME HOME | “It wouldn’t have been right to do a 100th episode without” Chris Pratt, insists Schur, so look for Andy to make his triumphant return from London. “We missed him so much. It’s so great to have him back. We worked out our schedule to make sure that he was back for this episode… He’s been such a huge part of the show.” No one is happier about Andy’s homecoming than April. “They’re having a magical reunion,” teases Aubrey Plaza. “It’s very special.” Not even a serious case of jetlag or months apart can ruin the moment. “Distance does not affect them at all. They’re so in love with each other that it doesn’t matter how long they are apart. They’re like dogs. They have no sense of the passage of time.”
NEW JOB | Elsewhere in the episode, “Tom is going through a big change,” hints Schur. Aziz Ansari offers up some more details, revealing that his alter ego is “trying to find a new business venture” with help from Donna.Follow @VladaGelman