Parks and Recreation dipped into its usual hat of tricks, callbacks and beloved townspeople for "Animal Control" to produce a slightly formulaic episode... not that I'm complaining. Last night's episode cracked me up and made me happy while propelling some hard-earned character development, which is more than I can say about any other TV comedy currently airing right this moment, except for maybe New Girl. I'm not sure if you read my Modern Family reviews, but for a while (maybe an entire season or two, gulp) they became about me pointing out every single awful thing about that show followed by our commenters asking me to please stop being an awful grouch about a sitcom, to which I say: "If you just watched Parks & Rec and read my reviews of that, there'd be no issues here! You'd know I do have a sense of humor, Internet strangers!" But I digress. I'm just trying to say that "Animal Control" was good, dammit, and I'll start writing fangirl-y things about other shows once they put at least ten percent of the effort that this show puts in. Okay let's grade everyone yay!
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.
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.
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