After sitting through a disappointing 30 Rock and the worst Office Christmas episode ever, it was really a relief to watch "Ron and Diane." I think I'm ready to admit that I'm in denial about this season of Parks and Recreation. The episodes make me laugh and I'd certainly still call Parks & Rec one of my favorite shows on TV, but my high expectations for it have officially been curbed. Our Pawnee friends feel like they're suffering from a lack of momentum, and even the episodes where nothing really happens in terms of development are just not as funny as they have been. I think Season 3's harvest festival arc spoiled me rotten in how swiftly Parks & Rec can potentially build a season-long storyline, and even though Season 4 dragged on just a little bit, Leslie winning the election was enough payoff for me. What's the big conceit this time around? Lesliben's wedding? I mean, if that's what it's going to be, of course I'll fangirl out about it and everything (obviously), but there's got to be more meat added to those bones. And given the series' gradually sinking numbers (last week's episode did especially bad), I'm not the only one not feeling the love.
"Pawnee Commons" wasn't the type of Parks and Recreation episode that will make any Best Of lists, nor will it probably convert any people who aren't regular viewers into Pawnee fanatics, but it was satisfying, sweet and funny, and what I talk about when I talk about why I'd take an average Parks & Rec over most other sitcoms on TV right now. We knew from the second Leslie mentioned Eagleton what kind of people and places we were about to see, and I enjoyed every second of it... and felt quite empty knowing that I don't get to have a balloon-artisan-made Leslie and Ben at my desk.
Full disclosure: This episode was spoiled for me, so the whole time I watched "Halloween Surprise," I just wanted to get to the engagement already. It's frustrating, because this was supposed to be special. It was going to be my big night and it was completely ruined. Humph.
I've come to realize that my favorite Parks and Recreation episodes are the ones that are cartoonish in plot but realistic when it comes to the characters -- last year's "Pawnee Rangers" sticks out to me for doing just that, while last week's "Ms. Knope Goes to Washington" was disappointing because the Leslie-Ben plot was all too accurate while Ron's character was a caricature. Or, I don't know, maybe I just really enjoyed last night's "Soda Tax" because of clever writing and great acting. Either way.
How excited are you that Parks and Recreation is back for Season 5? How great was it to see the old gang again? How much did you think, "I really hope Amy Poehler is happy in her personal life!"? How disappointed were you by last night's episode?
It's been a very long summer without our favorite local government, but they're finally back. Parks and Recreation will return for its fifth season tomorrow, and we couldn't be more excited to catch up with the Pawnee gang -- even if a few of the members are out-of-town. We talked to Adam Scott and Aubrey Plaza about their characters, and in between cracking us up and bringing out our inner fangirls, we learned what to expect for the new season.
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