After its shaky first season, Parks and Recreation has continued to pick up steam among fans and critics alike. So last Saturday, TV.com attended the show's red carpet event at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills, where we sneaked a peek at tonight's episode, "The Hunting Trip," and sat in on a panel discussion with the show's cast and crew, who chatted about the on-set atmosphere, what brought Parks and Rec to the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana, and what's coming up next for the show.
Things are finally coming together.
Aziz Ansari, who plays smooth-guy Tom Haverford, said the show's consistent improvement has a lot to do with having time to grow. "The first season was only six episodes, and I think it takes awhile for a show to kind of find itself and really develop the characters. The episodes just keep getting better and better." Amy Poehler, who stars as Leslie Knope pioneered the project, couldn't be happier. "Obviously, we're thrilled. I've been very proud of the work we've been doing and the fact that people are seeing it has been great."
Pawnee, Indiana maybe be fictional, but at least it's scandal-free
Though Pawnee was created for the show, much of the cast does have a relationship with the state of Indiana. Co-creator Michael Schur attended Notre Dame, Amy Poehler has traveled extensively there while touring with Chicago's Second City comedy troupe, and Aubrey Plaza, who plays April the intern, says she may have driven through there once and saw lots of corn, though "that may have been Iowa. I don't know."
But the main reason for setting the show in a fictional town was to avoid the potential for real-life scandal. Schur explained that Parks and Rec's writers just didn't want to find themselves in a place where they'd have to cover for a real national-news story by addressing it on the show.
Tom's divorce is imminent, which means he'll finally be able to use those pick-up skills he's been boasting about since day one.
"Obviously the episode about Tom's divorce [set to air on November 25] is about the breaking up of his green card marriage, so he'll be out there single and we'll see what happens," Ansari said.
There could be romance in store for April the intern.
Plaza hinted that something might happen between April and Andy (Chris Pratt), City Hall's new shoe-shiner, soon.
The guest stars will keep on comin'.
While the cast didn't officially divulge the names of future guest stars, it was mentioned we'll perhaps see more Saturday Night Live alums on the show. Ansari, however, claims that footage of the biggest guest star of all keeps winding up on the editing-room floor. "Denzel Washington [has] actually been in every episode, but for some reason he's just not shining so he keeps getting cut out," Ansari said. "His stuff is great, but it just doesn't hold up. I don't think most people realize. That's actually probably really embarrassing for him."
(All jokes aside, it was announced on Tuesday that Will Arnett, Poehler's husband, will appear on the show in the near future; Arnett will join a guest-star lineup that's already included Fred Armisen, Louis CK, and Megan Mullally.)
Speaking of Louis CK, his fate on the show is still up in the air.
Although the actor initially signed on for only four episodes, Poehler said she's hopeful that he'll always be available to the cast and that there will new developments between Leslie and Sargeant David Sanderson in the coming weeks.
Parks and Recreation airs Thursday nights at 8:30 pm on NBC.