'Parks and Recreation' finale: Exec producer Michael Schur on why Leslie [SPOILER] the election, what's next

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What can you tell us about that alternate ending?
It was a concession speech that she gave where she thanked her friends and she said that she would keep fighting for what she believed in. It was a very nice speech and Amy delivered it incredibly well. We were not going to show the scene with Ron and Chris where Ron turned the job down because that was irrelevant, and we were going to shoot a slightly different tag where it was more about “Let’s go out and celebrate all of your hard work!”

Will we get to see it on the DVD?
The other version will never be seen by human eyes. [Laughs] It’s such a big deal in the life of the character, and the reason we shot the other version is to make sure that we were choosing correctly. At the end of the day, it would weirdly cheapen it if we go, “Here’s a DVD extra where this happens!” It’s a gut feeling on my part as a producer that we should pretend that the other version never existed. If the show lasts for eight years and we release a giant deluxe box set for whatever device people are watching TV on in 2017, maybe we’ll do it as a very special extra thing, but until then I don’t think we’ll show it to anybody.

Was there anything else left on the cutting room floor?
There was a big thing in the Chris story that was extremely funny and very difficult to cut. The original story was that he post-coitally asks Jennifer (Kathryn Hahn) if she has any interest in keeping their relationship going in a very casual way, even after she leaves for D.C., and she goes, “Huh. Let me think about that,’ and then when she just bolts without even saying goodbye to him, he is just left there. There was a scene at the end at the victory party where Ann (Rashida Jones) kind of set him straight and said, “She was eight feet away from you and could have said goodbye and she didn’t,” and then he was like, “I’m going to go get her anyway,” and he left and ran off to go to D.C. I think we left the first scene but not the second scene because I liked the idea that he had been in this long funk because he’s had all these romantic failures, and in the version that airs, he got out of his head a little bit. He stopped thinking so much and grumping around and just had a crazy, wild escapade with a powerful fun lady who wasn’t interested in anything other than his body. That kind of snapped him out of his funk and he is now going to be fine. The way that we cut it down was good because it led to this version of the story that’s simply: A guy had a bunch of romantic failures over the course of a year and then a hot sexy lady said, “Let’s go have sex,” and he said “Okay,” and then everything was fine. It was nice to have Kathryn unexpectedly pull him out of that spiral.

Ben (Adam Scott) is off to Washington to work on a congressional campaign. How much of that will we get to see?  Will most of it take place during the hiatus?
When you do a big move like having someone agree to take a new job or move in with someone, you need to follow through on that. And that was something that came from the office when Jim (John Krasinski) moves to Stamford at the beginning of season 3. It was like, ‘If were going to do this, he’s gotta be there for awhile.’ If five minutes into the season premiere he was like, “I miss Scranton,” and went back to Scranton, then it’s like, “Why did you move him? What’s the point?” Our plan is to have him in Washington for a few episodes. I don’t know how many that’s going to end up being. We’re committing to him being in D.C. for at least a little while.

Any chance you’ll shoot on location?
We’re certainly talking about it. I think Leslie Knope in Washington, D.C., would be a delightful thing to see, you know? We learn in the finale that she has 50 scale models of the Washington Monument that she gives out to people. She obviously has an incredible love and admiration for government and for Washington specifically.

One downside to Leslie’s win is the end of Bobby Newport’s story. He proved to be a great foil — or anti-foil — for Leslie and subverted our expectations of what her rival might be like. Could he return next season?
For chrissakes, it’s Paul Rudd! However often he wants to appear on our show, we’ll figure out a way to make that happen. He was so perfect at creating a character who was both Leslie’s nemesis and incredibly charming and winning. Part of the misdirect we wanted to play with the audience was if we created a cold, evil, diabolical person and we had her lose, you’d be even sadder. Instead, we wanted to create a guy that [made] people think, ‘Well, it’s not the end of the world if he wins.’… The way that he played that character and the way we ended up writing to that character means to me that he can definitely come back and play a role in the future.

The romance between Ann and Tom (Aziz Ansari) ended quickly, but could their drunken reunion at the end of the episode indicate some kind of rekindling? 
We just wanted to put a little funny period at the end of this weird sentence. I don’t know if you should read anything in terms of what we’re committing to for the future. The fun of their relationship for me was that it was completely self-destructive and all over the map and that Ann was never really invested in it and it was based on inertia. We just did that in the tag to have a little fun  — and we haven’t even started working on next year — but I don’t think when we come back in season 5 that Ann and Tom are going to be living together.

The idea of Ann and Tom as a couple was pretty implausible. How do you think that story line ultimately turned out?
We knew at the time that there would be people who didn’t like it but I totally defend it. The reality of medium-size town life is that if you are 30-something-year-old woman and you don’t have a boyfriend and there’s a guy that you know pretty well who’s single and who makes you laugh, you would at least have a drink with him. That is a completely understandable position for Ann to take, and at no point did she ever indicate for one second that she was anything other than very casually interested in him. And I think that partly because our show has a lot of very intense soulmate relationships with Leslie and Ben, and Andy and April, people were trying put it in that category, or at least believed that we were going in that direction with them and that would have been really implausible. Really we just did it as: These two people are going to very causally hang out with each other for about six hours total and we were just going to play it for comedy and that’s what we did. I think it was really fun and I totally understand why some people might not have liked it as much other stuff, but to each his own.

Ron once again proved the polar opposite of Leslie in terms of ambition, turning down an opportunity to be the assistant city manager. Was that something you wanted to highlight in the finale?
There’s a longer cut of the episode that’s going to be on NBC.com, and you get a little more detail about his story. He’s a creature of habit and he’s not a guy who’s interested in power or glory. We just liked the idea that he has this opportunity to move up in the world but he likes where he is. He likes his office, he’s gotten used to the people he works with, and they have a good understanding. And also there’s been little hints spread out over the last couple years that as a pure hardcore libertarian, he has invested heavily in gold and gold is extremely valuable right now so he obviously doesn’t need the money. And the other factor for us was that there was lots of change happening with Leslie starting a new part-time job and maybe Ben being in Washington, and all this sort of stuff. We wanted to send a signal to people who are fans of the show: Don’t worry, Ron will be in his office doing crypotgrams or whatever he does in there and it’s not going to be an entirely different show.

Speaking of new opportunities, there was a twist at the end of the episode for Andy (Chris Pratt). Will he definitely become a police officer next season?
He’s going to make Bert Macklin a reality — not quite at the federal agent level, but as a member of the Pawnee police force. That’s our plan as of now, obviously subject to change. Our plan is to have him spend a year training and then become a cop. He’s not moving backward. And I like that the idea came from April (Aubrey Plaza). That was a nice pitch from one of the writers, that she was the one who figured out a way that he could take this goofy energy that he has and put it toward something.

The police academy scenes are going to be amazing.
We’re just going to re-create scenes from the original Police Academy movies.


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