By Dan Snierson
Updated September 20, 2011 at 08:00 PM EDT
Parks And Rec
Credit: Ron Tom/NBC

Scramble up some pre-birds, assemble a tray of zerts, and grab a couple of food rakes: It’s finally time to dig into the fourth season of Parks and Recreation. But before you reconnect with your favorite local government employees this Thursday at 8:30 p.m., check out what exec producer Mike Schur revealed to EW about the upcoming action.

• Leslie must choose between two loves.

“Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Ben (Adam Scott) realize that if she’s running for office and anyone in town finds out that she’s sleeping with Ben, who’s essentially her boss, that’s the kind of thing that can really sink a campaign. She attacks the problem from every angle and comes to the conclusion that there’s no way to have a relationship and to follow her dream of running for office. So, the premiere is about her trying to make a decision about which one she wants to do. The first half of the year is about her living with that decision and trying to imagine the road not taken…. The last scene in the premiere is the everything-comes-to-a-head scene with Ben and Leslie. It’s a very interesting, fraught scene. And it was Grade-A acting on both of their parts. I’m really excited to see how people react.”

• New mogul Tom doesn’t have an MBA, but he does have the NBA.

“His business — this PR entertainment multimedia conglomerate company — will overlap with regular Parks business. Leslie writes a book, and he does promotion for the book. There’s a story where he doesn’t understand some complicated forms related to this new business he started, and frankly he doesn’t really care about them. And he asks Ben, who has a head for this stuff, to help him figure out what they mean. Ben ends up doing an audit of the company, which is just an excuse to put Adam Scott in a giant white room with Aziz Ansari and Ben Schwartz (a.k.a Jean-Ralphio), and also Detlef Schrempf, who’s coming back, and Roy Hibbert. Entertainment 720 has hired a second NBA player. It’s really just Detlef Schrempf and him, playing one‑on‑one in this giant white room, while it’s supposed to be in some way related to a business.”

• Better yet, Tom totally upgrades his threads.

“We wanted to alter his wardrobe a little because he’s always been a kind of slick, nice suit guy. But now he’s gone beyond suits. He’s wearing these hilarious, super-wealthy casual looks — short-sleeve shirts that are unbuttoned a lot of the way down and jaunty yachting caps. He wore a pair of crushed velvet leopard-print slippers around the office. It’s really insane. Aziz is in hog heaven choosing these crazy outfits for himself.”

• Ron faces down his hellish ex-wife Tammy. (No, the other one.)

“We learn who Tammy I (Patricia Clarkson) is, why she’s there, and why everyone is so scared of her. She’s scary in a different way than Tammy II (Megan Mullally) is scary. Her relationship with Ron dates back a very long time, her job is Ron’s nightmare job, and her laugh will send a chill up your spine.”

• Then he has to deal with boy scouts.

“Ron is the scoutmaster of a scout troop, in the wilderness, teaching them how to survive. It’s not fun and games for the kids. It’s not about frivolity.”

• April tries to manage all things Andy.

“When we pick up, Andy (Chris Pratt) is having this moment of contemplation. He has been a shoeshine guy for a long time and he likes his job, but he’s wondering: What does the future hold for him? He realizes he doesn’t want to be a shoeshine guy forever. So, one of the arcs of the season is Andy trying to figure out how to move onward and upward. And April (Aubrey Plaza) is the one who’s going to help him manage his life. It’s not just about being his band’s manager, it’s about being his life manager.… The two of them go on a crazy adventure, and the very end of it is going to be really special.”

• Ann Perkins perks up.

“Ann (Rashida Jones) is coming into this year having gone through this phase where she learned to loosen up a little and be more self‑possessed. And the idea is that she is now a much more outgoing and confident person. Her story in the premiere might be my favorite story that we’ve ever done with her. It ends in this big moment where you see a confident and self‑assured Ann that would never have been able to do what she does when the series started. It’s making her a more appealing person to certain other people.”

• Chris Traeger: The taskmaster who can’t master the task?

“In the first chunk of episodes, he functions like the boss. There are a lot of situations where he’s the ultimate arbiter of something, or he is the person who’s laying down the law in his Chris Traeger kind of way. In the second episode, there’s a really fun story where he gets to comedically shine. We just put him in a situation where we wind up Rob Lowe and let him go. It’s a very, very simple project that Ann has chosen him to do and it should take five minutes to complete it. But because he’s so intense as a perfectionist, it ends up taking three entire days.”

• Snob alert! Our Pawnee folks will find themselves back in terribly tony Eagleton and….

“…it’s just as unpleasant as it was the first time. In fact, they go to Eagleton twice. Two different groups of people go to Eagleton for two very different reasons.”

• Meet someone from Jerry’s family and discover the secret link between Tom and Donna!

“We’re going to meet our first-ever member of Jerry’s (Jim O’Heir’s) family. I can’t say who, because it would give away something. And Donna (Retta) has a really fun buddy story with Tom that delights us to no end. We learn that they have some history — not romantic history, but there’s a thing that they’ve been doing every year for a long time. And suddenly you realize that Tom and Donna have this mutual admiration for something.”

Read more:

Episode Recaps

Premieres: Thursday, Sept. 26, at 8 p.m. on NBC Stars: Amy Poehler, Adam Scott, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari What to expect: Leslie (Poehler) heads to…

Parks and Recreation

  • TV Show
  • 7
  • NBC
stream service