"Galentine's Day" (Part 2, technically) is the reason why I watch this show. I had a smile on my face throughout the entire episode and was pleased that they found a way to service every single character in one half hour, without sacrificing the funny. This one might end up in my top ten list of episodes, and not just because of Andy determining that he was "Goofus"… but that sure didn't hurt.
I waffle a lot about this show. Two hours worth of waffling, even. Sometimes I just want it to be funny and focus on the Parks Department without big topics, and sometimes I want more meaty storylines. And right now, while I wanted something more heavy, they gave us a nice little standalone episode with "New Slogan." It was amusing and had some great moments, but it just felt vaguely forgettable to me as it didn't really move much of the plot along. We learned about Duke Silver, saw Leslie still on the fence about the National Park Service job and Tom found a space for his latest endeavor, but after some of the big emotional upheaval of the season, this just fell flat… maybe because everyone was so spread out for the entire episode. That said, it will probably be one of the episodes that will play really well in reruns.
Has there ever been a more adorable sight on Parks and Recreation than that of Ron Swanson cooing at his adorable infant son John Middle Name Redacted Swanson? What's that, you say? Ron has a son? Yes, that ever-so-secretive Ron and his wife Diane had their baby and Ron, much to the horror of Leslie, told no one. Unfortunately, it wasn't all cute mini-Swansons: there were also mass bee stings and Leslie getting a black eye. That said, all those instances (as well as an oft-repeated Tom storyline that might actually work this time) lead to something positive in the end… which is probably the first and last time I'll ever say bee stings did anything good for anyone. Damn you, bees. Here are the highlights from last night's light, but effective episode "The Wall":
After last week's double dose of Parks & Rec proved to be a bit of a mixed bag, I was more than a little skeptical about the "Fluoride" and "The Cones of Dunshire" pairing, but by in large these were much more solid episodes, really banking on what makes each character so strong and enjoyable in the first place. While "Cones" had a glimmer of sadness as Leslie lamented the inevitable departure of Ann and Chris, these episodes weren't as depressing as last week's "Recall Vote." And while I'm going to spend the hiatus trying to pre-order my copy of Cones of Dunshire and reading Are You Gonna Crawl My Way, I'd Like to Solve the Puzzle of Parenting and Rad Dads, here's my take on what really worked in these episodes:
Dammit, Jerry/Gerry/Garry/Larry! Don't ask us how it's his fault that NBC is putting Parks and Recreation more or less on hiatus until January 2014, but he is, we just know it. Sadly, that news is true: due to some infuriating schedule switcheroos, we won't get the new Halloween episode of Parks and Rec until November 14 so it can be preempted for episodes of The Voice and an SNL special. After back-to-back episodes on November 14 and 21, there will be a break and we won't see Leslie Knope and Co. again until January 9, 2014. While Adam Scott assured fans nothing fishy is going on, it was heartbreaking enough when we had to deal with the uncertain future of Parks and Rec, but now that we have it back, we can't actually have it? And, nice try, but none of this will get any of us to watch Sean Saves the World because, you know, we have eyes.
What a delightfully enjoyable hour of television. With part of the Pawnee gang heading to London (hence the premiere title "London, Part 1 and 2"), I was a little concerned that the stateside storylines would falter in the process. And while I'm pretty much over anything Mona-Lisa related, she was used in a remarkably sparingly way that actually didn't make me want to claw my eyes out. I was so overwhelmed by this show that I was momentarily paralyzed with all my emotions.
They got me, y'all. All season long, we were thrown little hints about possible Parks and Recreation pregnancies, and then in the season finale, the tension builds beautifully up until the moment I found out that I guessed the damn red herring. Aside from being incorrect and thus not getting the bragging rights, Ron Swanson being a father-to-be is more than I could have hoped for. I legitimately clapped at the end of the episode, and later had a brief nightmare about Tommy's Closet. It's probably a good thing that I'm getting a break from this show -- and, for the record, I'm pretty optimistic about a renewal.
I like mini golf as much as the next person with a soul and warm blood, but "Swing Vote" didn't work for me. The characters didn't do anything particularly interesting, the storylines were contrived, the conceit of the episode was in most cases, literally, "Well, I guess none of this really mattered," and it generally just felt like the writers went on vacation and left outlines to a bunch of substitutes about what each Pawnee friend is like and how plots usually go for a group. I wouldn't say that Parks and Recreation has run its course, nor do I think next week's Season 5 finale should also be the series finale, but episodes like this do make me wonder how much farther the show can take these characters without feeling like it's spinning its wheels each week. In any event, I hope that this is the last we see of Jenny Slate's Mona-Lisa, who is unfortunately the poster child of why "Swing Vote" wasn't very good.
The first scene of "Jerry's Retirement" has the triumphant return of Ben's Letters to Cleo shirt, so you knew it was going to be fun. I didn't love it as much as "Article Two," but the premise of Jerry retiring was hilarious, and it only further confirms my theory that in the season finale, we'll learn that Leslie, April and Ann are all pregnant... you know, assuming there's a bit of a time-jump or something. Until then, let's do this:
"Article Two" and "Jerry's Retirement" are easily two highlights of the fifth Parks and Recreation season -- though for the sake of transparency, they aired at a time when I really needed a laugh.
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