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"Parks and Recreation" (2009-2015), Political Satire Comedy on NBC - Created by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur

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I saw Aziz Ansari on an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, liked him, so I thought I'd give his show, "Parks and Recreation" a whirl.

Well, I haven't watched any of it yet, but I'm going to watch the pilot perhaps tonight, and I didn't want to lose all this title-tag information, so I'm posting now, will edit later.

BTW, I don't summarize plots - just as I didn't with my Complete! Series! Of! Night! Gallery! Commentaries! I write these both as a (hopefully entertaining) supplement for people who have either just watched the episode, are in the middle of watching it, or are simply trying to refresh their memory in the future (that's why I include pictures that I think are representative of each episode); these are definitely not "reviews," and are just as much for my own future reference as for other people's benefit (I figure, if I'm going to spend five minutes jotting down notes for myself, why not spend seven minutes making things enjoyable for others?) Halfway into the third episode, I see no reason not to continue watching Parks and Recreation (I really like it!), so let me know if you want to see anything more than what I'm already doing (there is no better "guide" than watching the episode itself, and these commentaries aren't unlike reading the morning paper after you've already watched the Monday Night Football game).

*** SPOILERS *** List of Characters in Parks and Recreation which contains look-ahead descriptions of what they end up doing.

Season One

1. "Pilot" - Apr 9, 2009: Leslie-Falls-Into-Pit-parks-and-recreati <--- Leslie falls into the pit.

Written by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, Directed by Greg Daniels

[Notes: I'd never even heard of this show before this evening. From what I can gather from the pilot episode, this is very much of a tongue-in-cheek, self-aware farce, somewhat along the lines of "Arrested Development," but in a pseudo-documentary manner, as if the whole thing is being filmed like the live episode of "ER," "Ambush." Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) takes her mid-level bureaucrat role very seriously (and I suspect this series has more than its share of bloopers from the actors laughing when they shouldn't), Tom Haverford (Aziz Ansari) is a cocky, lackadaisical, skirt-chaser as Knope's underling for the Department of Parks and Recreation in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana, and Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones) is a parody of a serious, concerned citizen. I can tell after ten minutes that the fourth wall is broken perhaps more often than I'd prefer - time will tell whether or not this gets to be too much. Mark Brendanawicz (Paul Schneider) is a funny satire of a "go-getter" - a friend of Leslie's (who slept with her five years before and briefly forgot he did) - and Andy Dwyer (Chris Pratt) plays the hilarious injured musician-boyfriend of Ann's - he hurt his leg falling into the pit, and uses a robotic clamp to grab beer bottles, etc. (his opening scene is really very funny). Summer intern April Ludgate (Aubrey Plaza) is a archetypal gum-chewing, disconnected teen, and Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) is the seemingly Libertarian boss whom Leslie needs to ask for permission to turn the pit into a park. Seven major characters were introduced during this half-hour in a very easy-to-digest fashion, and I loved this pilot episode.]

2. "Canvassing" - Apr 16, 2009: 277_NUP_134552_0140_1240003131.jpg <--- The team studying canvassing brochures written by (who else?) Leslie

Written by Rachel Axler, Directed by Seth Gordon

[Notes: I don't know if I'm going to get tired of this, but so far it's pretty darned entertaining. I read that before the Pilot was shown, Leslie was written to be a less-likable character, and I think it was a really good idea making the audience like her more; otherwise, it would have been a chore to get through this. I'm writing this as I'm watching (going back-and-forth), and so far my least-favorite character is Mark Brendanawicz because he's just so blatantly chill, but maybe that difference - which is standing out a little too much right now - will make him grow on me going forward. The sex-offender scene was a riot, and fortunately not too overplayed (that's a good sign, although it could have been even more subtle). Subtlety will be so important in this series - the man who stood up at the town-hall meeting, complaining about the loud guitar playing, overacted his role at first, and it's little things like that which can ruin a series (although his "You suck!" comment was funny) - I'm writing this, turning a blind eye to the fact that it ran for seven seasons. Oh, this show is shaping up to be quite amusing.]

3. "The Reporter" - Apr 23, 2009: The-Reporter-parks-and-recreation-598630 <--- Shauna Malwae-Tweep talking with Leslie.

Written by Daniel J. Goor, Directed by Jeffrey Blitz

[Notes: Yes, this is a *lot* like "Arrested Development" in that there are humorous scenes that are less than one-second long (I'm thinking now about the online Scrabble move FISHING -> IS). Oh, how I love the little moments like when Mark walks out with his arm around the reporter, Shauna Malwae-Tweep (Alison Becker) - the entire scene takes about one-quarter second - it's this rapid-fire, 50-funny-things-in-30-minutes, slapstick-like, machine-gun comedy that I liked about Arrested Development (although that show may have been a touch *too* subtle for mass acceptance). I wonder if "America's Funniest Home Videos" with Bob Saget was the precursor of this type of humor. In a 30-minute show, 26 minutes of it would be either commercials or Bob Saget yucking it up, and all you wanted was for Bob to Shut! Up! and play the next videos in rapid succession. You have to love the allophone (with "t" and "d") when Shauna comes trotting out of Mark's pick-up truck: "Hi! Sorry I'm late!" ... "Do ... you ... live near Mark?" "No, not at all." Yeah, Mark is growing on me, all right. And Leslie's subsequent seat-recline was laugh-out-loud funny. Does anyone think that Leslie looks like "someone we all know?" (And to a lesser degree, same with Mark? I can think of people I've met in my past who look a lot like them.) Through this episode, the director appears to be breaking the fourth wall with restraint, so it's actually a plus at this point rather than an annoyance. Andy's off-camera "Men are dawgs!" type of comments are uproarious. I had an audible "Oh no!" when Mark said, "I wouldn't say ... *romantically* involved ...." How did I not know this show existed?]

4, "Boy's Club" - Apr 30, 2009: parks-and-recreation-season-1-3-boys-clu <-- Ann and Leslie crashing the "Boy's Club"

Written by Alan Yang, Directed by Michael McCullers

[Notes: Dog-poop fights: If you can't lick 'em, join 'em. During the "apology video" to women politicians, I looked at the timer, and realized I was almost halfway through the episode - without commercials (on Amazon), this show *flies* by. One thing that can slip by the viewer in these episodes is the cinematography - the camera work is remarkable, and I have to think it's as much directorial skill as camera work because the timing is just so awesome. Leslie remarks on Ron's "full moustache," and in the next quarter-second, the camera moves in for a droll close-up; then it's over. And I love the allegory of dog-poop fights with Leslie's personal Watergate (because she opened a gift basket from a potential contractor). I kind of wish I wasn't writing these notes because every time I laugh out loud (like during Leslie's tearful filmed confession), I cut over here to write something. Hmmm ... The chase down the street on crutches and without pants! Writing detailed commentary about this show is like reviewing individual dishes at Minibar - it just doesn't work, but man oh man I'm loving this show so far.]

5. "The Banquet" - May 7, 2009: The-Banquet-parks-and-recreation-6159363 <--- Leslie sporting a mannish do.

Written by Tucker Cawley, Directed by Beth McCarthy-Miller

[Notes: They're really making the most out the murals on the wall of the Parks and Recreation building which, in case anyone doesn't already know, were ubiquitous things from Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "Works Progress Administration" - we have some here in Washington, DC. If anyone has a chance to go into the impressive Ariel Rios Federal Building on 11th and Penn (where the EPA is headquartered), make sure to walk up or down the awesome spiral staircases (where hangs a Foucault Pendulum): On each floor (on both sides of the building), there are WPA murals which look a *lot* like the ones in Parks and Recreation. If you know any EPA employee, ask them to give you a tour of this amazing building - it's worth a special effort just to see the staircases and murals. I swear, so far my favorite character in this show is Andy (the injured husband) - every single thing he says, or slight move he makes, causes me to giggle. I am so glad I'm writing this show up because if I wasn't, I could go through the entire series in about four days - I don't think I've yet seen a minute-long slice without it being funny. "The Banquet" may be my least-favorite episode of the first five, but it was still a winner - how did this show not have ten-million viewers?]

6. "Rock Show" - May 14, 2009: Screenshot 2017-05-06 at 8.58.35 PM.png <--- Andy gets his cast off (and gets cast off by Ann)

Written by Norm Hiscock, Directed by Michael Schur (2)

[Notes: Finally! Some character development! And some plot advancement, but they had to wait until the season finale to do it. The one major storyline here is Ann throwing Andy out of the house after learning that he waited an extra two weeks before having his cast removed (because "he liked her serving him dinner"), and the two minor storylines are Leslie and Paul nuzzling (after hooking up once about five years ago), and Paul subsequently falling into the pit like Andy did, apparently hurting himself (but we don't really know since the season ended). This was refreshing, having some degree of continuity to the series other than "The Pit" (which is featured in one of Andy's awful rock songs in this episode - his band is just terrible. Rather than having this be "a show about nothing" like Seinfeld (or, should I say, "a show that deeply examines one seemingly unimportant construct, like "a meeting, or "a canvassing," etc. which is what Seinfeld did), it's refreshing to have the characters change (even a little bit) and grow, so the viewer feels they're investing something into the series, rather than simply watching random episodes and not missing a thing if they don't. Leslie's date with the older bureaucrat made me shiver - that was *really* creepy, in a very amusing sort of way - that man (Ron Perkins) played his role perfectly. One other thing: When Andy got his cast off, it was *gross*! And, Season One is a wrap and a thumbs-up. Note: All six shows had different directors and writers (eleven people total) except for Michael Schur, who worked on two episodes.

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Keep watching.  No matter what you think of the pilot.

Great show............completely different, yet somehow similar to 30 Rock, which I absolutely loved.

Anyhow, Parks and Rec is a gem of a show amongst trite, cliched, recycled "comedy"

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Just skip to season 2. Or season 3. It becomes a fantastic show, which would not be known from the pilot.

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Just skip to season 2. Or season 3. It becomes a fantastic show, which would not be known from the pilot.

I agree, this show hits it's stride around season 2 or 3. I watched it regularly for years, and enjoyed it, but I abandoned it a couple of years ago.

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I saw Aziz Ansari on an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, liked him, so I thought I'd give his show, "Parks and Recreation" a whirl.

"Why We'll Never See Another Show Like Parks And Recreation Again" by Emily Yahr on washingtonpost.com

It's a pretty amazing coincidence that I began watching this show - which I had never heard of before - just a week ago simply because I didn't know who Aziz Ansari was, and happened to see him on "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee."

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Beginning with Season Two, I won't be attempting any heroic "reviews"; I'll merely be summarizing enough aspects of the plot so I can remember the episodes in the future - honestly, you can find more and better information on Wikipedia (click on Season Two, then the individual episodes), but hopefully these will generate some discussion which is my goal. After Season 2, Episode 1, I can tell that I'm going to continue loving this show, and I don't want to waste all my time writing long plot summaries when they've already been done, better, elsewhere. Our members should feel free to discuss anything that jogs their memories, or ask any questions they might have, but I'm also writing these for myself, so when I look back in twenty years, I'll remember what I watched. Parks and Recreation has far too many little moments of humor for me to point them out, but I reserve the right to do so anyway, if something strikes me as particularly funny. Gosh I enjoy this show. Is all TV this good?!

Season Two

1. "Pawnee Zoo" - Sep 17, 2009: MarciaLangman.jpg <--- Easy-to-dislike Marcia Langman, the Pawnee Prude times ten

Written by Norm Hiscock (2), Directed by Paul Feig

[Notes: Leslie marries two penguins to promote Pawnee Zoo, unwittingly knowing they were gay (they had sex during the ceremony), and then becomes a gay hero and icon. A party is held in her honor at "The Bulge," a gay bar, while Marcia Langman (Darlene Hunt, pictured), perfect in her part as an archetype anti-gay activist for the "Society For Family Stability Foundation," tries to get her fired, dragging her onto a local TV show, "Pawnee Today," where nearly every call-in wants her to resign for promoting the gay lifestyle. Mark clumsily asks out Ann, who politely declines, confiding to Leslie that it happened, adding that she valued Leslie's friendship more than a date with Mark. Andy returns to woo Ann, pretending to be a reformed, successful businessman in an expensive suit, but secretly revealing to the audience that he's living in squalor, in a tent in the pit.]

2. "The Stakeout" - Sep 24, 2009: 570_NUP_136343_0120.jpg?itok=pRJ7xPhq <--- Leslie discovers a "weed" in Louis CK's debut

Written by Rachel Axler (2), Directed by Seth Gordon (2)

[Notes: Leslie decided to grow a community garden in the pit, but discovered marijuana in there. She decides to perform a stakeout with Tom. After receiving Leslie's approval, Ann goes on a movie date with Mark, and Leslie and Tom see them during the stakeout. They catch Andy "coming home" into the pit (Andy has been eating the vegetables from the garden). Ron can't move an inch due to a hernia. Office Dave Sanderson (Louis CK, who jumps right into this role like he belongs in Pawnee) catches Tom jimmying his way into his van after he got locked out, and arrests him. Leslie, Ann, and Mark go to the station to help Tom, but Officer Dave is resistant. Intern April tries to help Ron to the hospital, Dave lets Tom go, gives Tom and Leslie a ride home, and confesses to the viewer that he was attracted to Leslie. After being dropped off, Leslie gets back into the van to give Tom a ride home, and "Every Breath You Take" by "The Police" is ironically playing. Tom sarcastically thanks Ann and Mark for having him arrested as a pervert.]

3. "The Beauty Pageant" - Oct 1, 2009: parks-rec-beauty-pageant_dl.jpg <--- Tom is "impressed" with the talentless Trish Ianetta.

Written by Katie Dippold, Directed by Jason Woliner

[Notes: Ron has his hernia surgery, Leslie and Tom are judges in the "Miss Pawnee" beauty pageant. April decides to enter (for the prize money of $600) and attempts to bribe Leslie with an extra-whipped cream latte. Officer Dave is back, in the government building, marveling over a WPA mural which used to be called "A Lively Fisting" where a reverend is socking a widow with seven children. He asks Leslie out and she excitedly says yes, but then gets miffed when Dave didn't recognize Madeline Albright. At the pageant, Tom displays a hilarious ability to guess breast-cup sizes. The pageant being, April comes out first, and gives an idiotic introduction (to polite applause), then comes Susan, a history major at ISU who plays classical piano and volunteers a Children's Hospital (light applause only), then comes Trish Ianetta (April Marie Eden), who loves to 'hang out with her friends, laugh, go to the beach, and wear bikinis 'with everybody there'' (to immense applause by the males). For the talent competition, Trish comes out with a baton and shakes her bootie, again to massive applause, April comes and gives lame impressions to almost no applause, an older (sixties) women sings "It's So Good" as comic-comic relief, then substantive Susan plays a passable, small-town version of Chopin Waltz Op 69 No 1 (it's a no-brainer who *should* win, and Leslie knows it). An equally vacuous Jessica Wicks (Susan Yeagley), Miss Pawnee 1994, is one of the judges who sees herself in Trish, and of course is going to vote for her. Mark is over at Ann's, fixing her shower, and Ann notices Andy down in the pit. Back at the beauty pageant, "The Hot One" bombs her Q&A, then back at the house, Mark and Ann are having dinner, talking about pour Andy outside. Leslie is the only beauty pageant judge that isn't being swayed by the vacuous "Hot One," and it's clear who's going to win (April vocally quits after finding out the prize money is in gift certificates). In this ping-pong match of an episode, we're now back at the house, where Mark and Ann mercifully let Andy come in from the pouring rain and give him a meal. Officer Dave asks Leslie out, and she says yes.]

4. "The Practice Date" - Oct 8, 2009: off2_204_01.jpg <--- The announcement that councilman Bill Dexhart (Kevin Symons) had four-way sex in a cave in Brazil

Written by Harris Wittels, Directed by Alex Hardcastle

[Notes: You can see why I *love* this series in the first minute of this episode, when Tom says, "I bet cave sex is in-*sane*," Leslie asks him why, Tom replies, "Because of the echos. And the humidity." And this lady standing right in back of Tom, out of the blue, casually nods her head in agreement. It's a moment that takes less than one second, but it's laugh-out-loud funny. And then Leslie says, "Personally, all I care about is Councilman Dexhart's policies," and it sounds *hilarious* because that's when you notice his name. Wow, this episode is a turning point in the series, because you *really* learn about the characters - the contest to find dirt on each other is a *perfect* backdrop for this, and boy do we find out some interesting things: about poor Jerry Gergich (Jim O'Heir), and then a one-two punch (that you have to see to believe) about Tom, then Ron. In the meantime, Leslie's "first date" with Officer Dave goes, well, it goes. Donna Meagle (Retta) uses subtle facial expressions in this episode that are an absolute riot - I need to see more of her, but she may well be a comic genius. Of note: "The Practice Date" is an episode where the title really describes the secondary plot line - although I need to see what comes next, I suspect this outstanding episode is looked upon as a pivotal point in the series - I choose my pictures carefully, and I chose this one because this episode really introduces us to Jerry and Donna. Remember, I'm watching this series in order, so I haven't seen what's coming in the future - the producers need to be very careful not to let Ron's character jump the shark after what happened in this episode. Thanks to Mark Sanford for providing the fodder - see, this show isn't really making fun of unknown, local politicians; it's making fun of real-life, national ones. Is Mark Sanford *really* back in office as a member of the House of Representatives?! Really?!]

5. "Sister City" - Oct 15, 2009: 159_NUP_136641_0174.jpg <-- Fred Armisen from Portlandia (!)

Written by Alan Yang (2), Directed by Michael Schur (3)

[Notes: Three counterparts from Pawnee's "sister city" Boraqua, Venezuela (fictional) come in a supposed cultural exchange. Led by Raul (Fred Armisen), the three men are non-stop insulting, obnoxious, rude, and degrading. They think Tom is a servant because of his skin tone, but Tom willingly accepts their money as they boss him around. Intern Jhonny (JC Gonzalez) has a massive crush on non-interested April, who is fluent in Spanish because her mother is Puerto Rican (Aubrey Plaza is part Puerto Rican in real life). The three jerks give Leslie a $35,000 gift to turn the pit into a park, on the condition that she says "Viva Chavez" on a video they're making - it turns out they're part of a nationally organized "Committee To Humiliate And Shame America." Leslie has enough, rips up the check, and sends them packing, and Tom nobly takes all the cash they've given him (hundreds of dollars) and anonymously drops it into the park-donation bin. Both of these acts advance their characters, making them even more likable in the process. The episode ends with April and Donna in a video-message from Venezuela, where they're staying in Jhonny's intern palace (all the men had the hots for Donna). Okay, while this episode may be considered "classic," I consider it to be a one-off, and my least-favorite of the season, and perhaps the entire series. It showed off Fred Armisen for sure, and he was great in the role, but that's about all it did, and the humor was somewhat crude and stereotypical. I missed my characters from Parks and Recreation, and I'm not sure I want any more episodes like "Sister City." Do you know what's starting to happen? I'm developing a fondness for the characters in this series, and it's starting to make me get over "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (Neither "The Twilight Zone" nor "Night Gallery" were able to replace my lost dog; Parks and Recreation might be my new puppy).]

6. "Kaboom" - Oct 22, 2009: Keef.jpg <--- Keef Slertner, the hyper-vocal leader of the KaBOOM! group

Written by Aisha Muharrar, Directed by Charles McDougall

[Notes: In the cold opening, Leslie cancels her credit card rather than suffer Tom hearing the charges she made over the phone. The whole department is volunteering in Eagleton, two towns over, to work with an organization called KaBOOM! and it's leader, Keef (Paul Scheer), who reputedly can build a park in one 24-hour day. Leslie is skeptical, and there's an incredibly annoying "motivational guy" in charge, trying to squeeze blood from the Pawnee turnips (Ron, in particular, is annoyed by this). Andy shows up for the free food, and lines his vest pockets (by the way, I just found out that Ann (Rashida Jones) is the real-life child of Quincy Jones and Susan Lipton - what a cool combination of talent and looks, and I can see both of them in her: It's hard not to develop an innocent crush on Rashida (think: Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis))). Leslie, motivated, wants to do her own version of KaBOOM! with the pit (why doesn't she just call KaBOOM!)? A little inflection had great affect here, when Leslie said she wanted to come back in her next life as a strip..minor - it was that subtle, almost undetectable pause that made it slightly racy - for what reason? Seemingly, random humor. Leslie decides to take matters into her own hands, and rent a backhoe without permission, and does. The first load of dirt goes into the pit - Pow! - right on top of a sleeping Andy, who now has a concussion. Two funny parodies of attorneys get involved, forbidding both Andy and Leslie to say a word, then Andy shows up at Ann's house naked (you have to see it), before conspiring with Leslie against the city's attorney. The attorney agrees to fill in the pit (!) if Andy drops the lawsuit, and sure enough, it gets filled in. At the end, we find out KaBOOM! is just one guy playing pranks, and doesn't really exist.]

7. "Greg Pikitis" - Oct 29, 2009: 613322_1307165663240_500_281.jpg <--- The malevolent prankster-genius Greg Pikitis (perfectly played by Cody Klop)

Written by Michael Schur (4), Directed by Dean Holland

[Notes: Leslie confronts a teenager, Greg Pikitis (rhymes with "Detritus," played by Cody Klop), whom she "knows" defaces the park statue of "Mayor Percy" each year on Halloween. He denies, and the viewer is left wondering whether he's innocent and Leslie is just being paranoid. She goes so far as to have Andy guard the statue for four hours, and to stake out Greg with Officer Dave (Louis CK, in his fourth guest appearance, now Leslie's boyfriend). As the secondary plot, Ann is throwing a Halloween party at 7 PM, which is completely saved by a wild Tom, who turns it from being a funeral home into a real party. Leslie and Dave give up on the stake-out and decide to go to Ann's party, stopping off at the Parks and Recreation Department which has been vandalized - the perpetrator left a peach pit as a calling card, and we *think* Greg was eating a peach earlier when he was confronted by Leslie (he says it was a plum). His mother comes to rescue him from being questioned, and threatens to sue everybody for everything. Andy helps Leslie clean the office, and they decide to TP Greg's house for revenge, and Greg's mother - his *real* mother - opens the door; the woman who rescued him was a fake he hired on Craigslist. They both then realize where he is, and head straight for the statue, catching him red-handed. Leslie wonders how he could have pulled this off since they tracked him, but then a flashback reveals the true answer.]

8. "Ron and Tammy" - Nov 5, 2009: 200_s.gif <--- Sexual-demon hell-cat Tammy, played by Nick Offerman's real wife Megan Mullaly

Written by Mike Scully, Directed by Troy Miller

[Notes: Uproariously funny, and my favorite episode to date. To see Ron in "The Practice Date" (S2, E4) is to get to know and really like him; to see him in "Ron and Tammy" makes him one of your favorite characters on the show. What Tammy (brilliantly played by Megan Mullally) does to him is laugh-out-loud funny, consistently throughout the episode, and it's not at all surprising (but it *is* interesting) that Mullally and Offerman are married in real life. Hell, only a real-life married couple could so convincingly portray such a dysfunctional, screwed-up pairing as these two hilarious nutballs - oh, poor Ron: emasculated as only a psychotic woman can do to a man. There isn't much need (or time) for a secondary plot here, but Andy's continuing obsession with Ann is starting to really get on Mark's nerves, and the confrontation between the two acts as sort of a "reverse comedy relief" - inserting some pretty tense, uncomfortable moments into an otherwise slapstick-hilarious episode. Andy can't advance his position much (if any) further than this without turning into an unlikable stalker - he's already skirting the boundaries of being one (unlikable, that is; he's *definitely* a stalker already). Oh, how I hope future episodes somehow continue to be this riotous.]

9. "The Camel" - Nov 12, 2009: tumblr_lgbw3puocp1qgxov6o1_500.png <--- "The Camel" (a horse designed by a committee)

Written by Rachel Axler (3), Directed by Millicent Shelton

[Notes: Anything after "Ron and Tammy" is going to be a letdown, and sure enough, we went from perhaps the greatest episode to date, to an average episode, which appeared something less than average to the letdown. The patently racist "Spirit of Tawnee" mural has been defamed once again, and the town decides to hold a departmental competition to come up with replacement ideas. The Parks and Recreation department is dispatched to come up with individual ideas - all of which (except Jerry's, which is inexplicably dismissed and never brought up again) are terrible. However, Leslie - who is steadily evolving from dumb blank-faced blonde to voice of moderation and reason - decides to take a little snippet of each person's attempt, and come up with a melange (which, of course, fails, but at least they failed as a team). Mark (also a voice of reason) comes up with a "bland yet inoffensive" work that probably would have won, and not surprisingly, Ron loves it (and ends up hanging it outside his office with a thumbs up to Mark). "The Camel" was Mark's term for the melange, a camel being "an attempt at a horse designed by committee." In a very weak, also undeveloped, subplot, Andy shines Ron's shoes three times in a day (which gets awkward), and on the third time, Ron lets out a sexual-sounding groan which freaks Andy out - but it's only because Ron's bunions are somehow getting pain relief from the shoe shine, and the groan was involuntary. Still, this was not a good subplot, and even if it had been, it didn't go anywhere. "The Camel" is not one of my favorites, especially considering the high standards that this splendid series is setting for itself.

10. "Hunting Trip" - Nov 19, 2009: parks-recreation-huntingjpg-8f4face28bbd <--- Leslie and Ann take up arms in a sort-of follow-up to the "Boy's Club" episode.

Written by Daniel J. Goor (2), Directed by Greg Daniels (2)

[Notes: A definite rebound from "The Camel," this was a good episode, definitely above average when the average is at a high level. Ron, Mark, and Jerry are stoked about their annual hunting trip under the guise of a "trail survey" so they can get away with it on taxpayers' money. Horning in on the guys' fun, Leslie insists that she's able to come, so it turns into a department-wide trip, with Leslie, Tom, Donna, and Ann in attendance, staying at a pretty nice cabin in the woods. April and Andy are left in the office, and their playful friendship becomes even more playful when April gives him multiple hickeys ('to make Ann jealous'). Leslie is a surprisingly good hunter, and even bags a quail, but oops! Ron screams, and it turns out he's been shot in the back of the head - he takes pain pills and chucks whiskey, and both Leslie and Ann make him vomit to act as a quasi- stomach pump. Ann knows that Tom accidentally shot Ron (who is furious), but Leslie heroically covers for him (at which point Donna physically tackles Leslie for blasting a hole in the rear window of her Mercedes) because Tom doesn't have a hunting license and could get fined $25,000, until Tom fesses up out of guilt. A park ranger (Jay Johnston) makes an appearance to restore order, and the episode ends with a get-well party for Ron, who exposes a somewhat disgusting scar on the back of his head.

11. "Tom's Divorce" - Dec 3, 2009: 8-pancake-eggs-a-biscuit.nocrop.w670.h36 <--- Ron scarfing the breakfast buffet at a strip club

Written by Harris Wittels (2), Directed by Troy Miller (2)

[Notes: Another pivotal point in the growth of the series, because this is the first time it isn't 100% comedy; Tom's just-discovered feelings for his wife, as their sham, green-card marriage ends (he's American; she's a lovely surgeon from Canada who married him to gain citizenship), Tom realizes he's really hurt. The viewer waits for humor to ensue, but it never really does. The whole thing comes about when Leslie - up on the dreaded "4th floor" running an errand for Ron - seems Tom and Wendy (Jama Williamson). Leslie (unaware that the marriage was a sham) spends much of the episode trying to cheer Tom up, taking him a completely cheesy restaurant, "Jurassic Fork" (think Rainforest Cafe in Tysons Corner, except worse), and even a low-rent strip club, "The Glitter Factory," where Tom realizes, amongst the strippers, drinking, and music, that he's absolutely miserable; Ron, however, is in love with the breakfast buffet. Leslie attempts to cheer up Tom by getting him a lap dance, but he's so miserable that he doesn't even want it - the next morning, Tom confesses to Leslie that it was a green-card marriage, but he had unwittingly fallen in love with his wife (she's quite the catch). In the meantime, Andy challenges Mark to pool - winner take Ann - and wins only on a technicality, as Mark was the superior player, and it doesn't matter, because Ann doesn't want him anyway. The next day, Andy valiantly assures the two that he's giving up his fight. There was some charm to this episode, and a lot of character advancement, especially with Tom and even Andy, but it was actually kind of sad to watch Tom being hurt.]

12. "Christmas Scandal" - Dec 10, 2009: Joan.jpg <--- The ultimate tabloid-reporter hell-hag, Joan Callamezzo (brilliantly played by Mo Collins)

Written by Michael Schur (5), Directed by Randall Einhorn

[Notes: I'm in the minority, in that I think this episode was just not that good - it's too scattered, and is almost farcical in its material (granted, the entire show is farcical, but this is even more so). Scandalous councilman Bill Dexhart is back, this time trying to pin one on Leslie, even coming out as a surprise guest on sleazy tabloid show "Pawnee Today," featuring the impossibly snotty, "gotcha" host Joan Callamezzo. Officer Dave gets called up in Army Reserve, and needs to be in San Diego for eighteen months - he wants to take Leslie with him, but she can't go (sadly, this is the last we're ever going to see of the very likable Dave (and Louis CK) on "Parks and Recreation." This is where it gets stupid - Dexhart says he can prove the scandal because Leslie has a mole on her rear end; she pulls down her pants, on set, and proves to host Joan that she's clean, forcing Dexhart to admit he's lying, "but I'm still not resigning!" he says. Who cares. The group gets their special friends Christmas presents, and relationships are forming between April and Andy (a surprise, for sure), and strengthening between Mark and Ann. This wasn't terrible, but it was one of my least favorites. However, "The Pit" is used for the town Christmas Tree, so something tangibly good has come of all this effort, and Leslie continues to progress towards being a respected character, instead of just a funny one. I'll miss you, Louis CK.]

13. "The Set Up" - Jan 14. 2010: parks_1263864069-000.jpg <--- Will Arnett is Amy Poehler's real-life husband!

Written by Kate Dippold (2), Directed by Troy Miller (3)

[Notes: Ann appears to have a "friend-crush" on Justin Anderson (Justin Theroux), to the consternation of just about everyone (especially Mark and Leslie), especially when Ann sets her up with a crazy MRI technician, Chris (Poehler's real-life husband Will Arnett), and the date goes terribly - with Chris deciding to give Leslie a "free MRI," and having an entitled, truly lunatic attitude towards just about everything from the first minute. Ann apologizes profusely, realizes that Mark and Leslie's criticisms of her might be on-base, and finally capitulates to pressures, and sets up Leslie on a date with Justin. Ron is riotously funny in his role, which submits him to easier access from angry citizens, and he decides to hire an assistant, who is none other than April - this gives April a reason to develop a more permanent role on the show, rather than having her be a perennial intern. Tom had superficially interviewed people, recommending his club-friend Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz) for the job (to the consternation of Ron, who wanted 'someone exactly opposite'). "The Set Up" was an average episode - somewhat busy, and trying to do too much (for example, introducing new characters, while having multiple plots going on at once).]

14. "Leslie's House" - Jan 21, 2010: leslies-house-20100122005700007-000.jpg <--- Leslie, Justin, and this evening's server, Andy

Written by Daniel J. Goor (3), Directed by Alex Hardcastle (2)

[Notes: Leslie and (an egocentric) Justin have several really fun dates in Indianapolis, so Leslie invites him out in Pawnee, then realizes there's nothing to do there, and flies into a panic. Just before this, she had told rec-department teachers that there have been budget cuts, and some classes (pottery, cooking, etc.) would be cut correspondingly. However, she had some of them over when, in a panic, she realized her house was both a shambles, and she couldn't cook, clean, or do much of anything else other than her job - she even hires Andy for $10/hour to serve and clean for her. Wendy (Tom's wife) shows up, and Leslie couldn't have been more apologetic to Tom, who is still smarting from the separation. Leslie worries when Justin relentlessly yawns, and makes things crazy when she calls in entertainers (it turns out that Justin has merely been up all night the night before, not having slept, because he was working on a legal case). Leslie turns herself in to a disciplinary committee for hiring the teachers whose budgets she was going to cut, but gets off with a slap on the wrist, especially since (in true Leslie fashion), she turned herself in, and paid the $1,000 shortfall out of her own pocket (how much more dedicated can you get than this?)]

15. "Sweetums" - Feb 4, 2010: NutriYumBar.jpg <--- NutriYum made by Sweetums: loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, just like everything else they make.

Written by Alan Yang (3), Directed by Dean Holland (2)

[Notes: Sweetums is Pawnee's legendary company - manufacturers of high-fructose corn syrup confections, who is taking over the concession stands in the city parks, and who has introduced a, cough, "healthy" energy bar: Nutri-Yums, made with corn, corn syrup, etc. The whole office chows down on them, flies into a sugar buzz, and then crashes. As a secondary plot, Tom is moving out from his broken wedding, and hits up Mark for his truck, and April and Andy for moving help. Meanwhile, Ann convinces Leslie that Nutri-Yums are garbage, and convinces Paul Iareso (Pawnee City Manager, and Ron's boss, played by Phil Reeves) to hold a public forum about the issue. Sweetums runs a feint left by hiding a Nutri-Yum under the seats of everyone in attendance, much to their great applause. Tom and (his ex-wife) Wendy are buying everyone helping with the move some pizza, in this ping-pong match of an episode - but as soon as everyone spends the whole day helping Tom pack, his landlord calls - there's a gas leak, and he can't move in until Monday. Humorous tension abounds between Leslie (concerned about public health) and Ron (concerned about public freedom - the right to become a 600-pound blotto at age 40 if one so chooses). This was an amusement-only, sheer-entertainment episode that did nothing in terms of character advancement or plot development, but was fun to watch in its own right - I suppose you could say it solidified existing relationships between everyone, possibly strengthening April and Andy's somewhat, but primarily it was just fun. Sweetums' employees introduced some potentially significant guest roles (including several members of the Newport family, the owners of Sweetums).]

16. "Galentine's Day" - Feb 11, 2010: off2_216_01.jpg <--- April while still in her zombie-like phase (she eventually starts smiling)

Written by Michael Schur (6), Directed by Ken Kwapis

[Notes: Leslie and her female friends celebrate "Gal"entine's Day, breakfast style, with ever-generous Leslie giving out impossibly wonderful bags of gifts to all her co-workers. "Like Lilith Fair, minus the angst ... plus fritatas," she says. Leslie's mom, Marlene (Pamela Reed) tells a great little anecdote of a lost summer love, and both Tom and Justin (who is making some pretty substantial contributions to this show of late) want to find the man, and sure enough, Justin tracks him down. ROFL! (You know I often write these as I'm watching, right?) Leslie and Justin ask Tom for a half-day off, and Tom says, ¨You're asking my permission to take a 'nooner?'" A nooner! That's hilarious! I want to write for this show! As Leslie and Justin drive to find her mom's old flame, Frank Beckerson (John Larroquette), Mark gives Ann every cliched Valentine's Day gift in the book - these two are really growing on me as a couple, and I hope they stay together - Mark annoyed me at first, but if he proves to be faithful (which he has so far), I really like him with Ann - but with this show, you just never know (I mean, April and Andy?!) Speaking of which, Andy asking "Who is that?" referring to Louis Armstrong was laugh-out-loud funny. One thing I've noticed about P&R: April's boyfriend Derek (Blake Lee), and Derek's boyfriend Ben (Josh Duvendeck) - they're in sort of an odd ménage-í -trois relationship - have been in the series quite a bit; yet, I feel like I don't know them at all - maybe this episode will be their breakout in terms of character development? Or, maybe April's budding relationship with Andy will relegate them to obscurity - I notice that neither one has a Wikipedia entry which surprises me a bit. Whoops! As soon as I typed that, I watched some more, and April broke up with Derek - well, I guess that explains the lack of Wikipedia entries. April is also turning into something resembling a human being. Wow, and to end "Galentine's Day," Leslie breaks up with Justin, and lemme tell you that I'm kind of glad she did because I didn't care for his character all that much. I suspect this was done intentionally for two reasons: to get people's minds off of Louis CK (I don't even know if he was famous in 2010, but his character was immensely likable), and not to make Justin *too* likable, so it's not much of a blow when Leslie terminates him - he was a useful transitional character. The actual "Galentine's Day" part of this episode was pretty miniscule, so other than the catchy title (which I suspect the producers were hoping would catch on with the public), this episode was misnamed. There were *three* goodbyes in this episode: April and Derek, Leslie and Justin, and Marlene and Frank (which was a hello-and-goodbye). While not the greatest of episodes, "Galentine's Day" moved the series along very nicely, and may have gotten rid of some extraneous characters, leaving the series to continue with a cleaner slate.]

17. "Woman Of The Year" - Mar 4, 2010: ron-woty.jpg <--- Ron Swanson *Woman* Of The Year? Say what?

Written by Norm Hiscock (3), Directed by Jason Woliner (2)

[Notes: A letter arrives from the IOW (Indian Organization of Women), and Leslie is sure she won the award she's always dreamed of winning: Indiana's "Dorothy Everton Smythe Female Empowerment Award" (Leslie has been a "dues paying member" of IOW since she was nine.) Leslie clasps April's and Donna's hands as April opens the envelope, and she reads the winner aloud: Ronald Swanson. The subplot comes quickly: Tom brings his friend Freddy (Andy Milder), owner of his favorite hotspot "Snakehole Lounge," a temporary liquor license, and Freddy offers to make him a partner (at $10,000 per share, due by Friday), and Ron hits up his friend, Jean-Ralphio (who we met as Tom's club buddy in "The Set-Up"). In a tertiary plot, Andy is being a deadbeat with his rent, and his guitarist is about to throw him out, but April offers to help him (with a flirtatious look on her face - Andy appears to have struck gold). Tom and Freddy can't pool together $10K, so they recruit other office members for a five-person assembly in a meeting room complete with a couple of dancing girls (Dress code? "Black tie optional - just like life.") Ron is taking full advantage of IOW's mistake, relentlessly teasing a clearly rattled Leslie, and loving every minute of it (he knows full well she deserves it, and is going to correct the mistake after getting his licks in). Well, Leslie is seriously ticked off about this, and clearly doesn't know Ron's joking. To make matters worse, a representative from IOW comes in, the three meet, and it's not a mistake after all - this year they decided to give the award to a man 'to be taken seriously' - Ron declines, but they decline his declination. At the awards ceremony, Ron and Leslie have agreed that Leslie would write his acceptance speech, and it was going to be a nasty one, lambasting the whole process and awards in general. Ron instead receives the award, and presents it to Leslie, who presents it back, and the two are up on stage arguing in a very silly (not that funny) moment. The newspaper cropped Leslie out of the picture, they both decide to throw the award away, but then Leslie shimmies back in and nabs the award from the trash can, scampering back to her office with it. It's hers, dammit! The episode ends when Tom spots Donna at the club (Donna had previously declined going in on one share; it turns out she bought three - "Thanks for the tip!" were the closing lines of the show. An average episode at best which serves to highlight the competence of Leslie and the likability of Ron, while taking a swipe at bureaucracy.]

18. "The Possum" - Mar 11, 2010: the-possum-20100312032037947.jpg <--- You don't play possum with this chick.

Written by Mike Scully (2), Directed by Tristram Shapeero

[Notes: "Fairway Frank" (a possum) has bitten the mayor's dog, Rufus, and a representative from the mayor's office, Evelyn (Judith Moreland) asks Leslie to dispose of it because she knows Leslie is a go-getter who will get the job done (Animal Control is a weak department, as we shall soon see). Leslie assembles a "task force" consisting of Andy, Tom, and two people from the impossibly lame Animal Control department, Harris (Harris Wittels (a writer and executive producer for the show)) and Brett (Colton Dunn). As Leslie strategizes with her team on the golf course (that's where Fairway Frank lives), Andy bum tackles a possum, catching it in all of two seconds, much to the delight of Evelyn, who arranges for an interview, and grants Leslie a mayoral favor. Yet, we see another possum trotting along the fairway - did Andy really tackle Fairway Frank? As a subplot, Ann pays April $50 to house-sit for her, on the condition that she doesn't allow Andy to make himself a key ("I don't like her," April sneers at the camera). The reporter doing the interview is our old friend Shauna, from Season 1 Episode 3 ("The Reporter"), who Andy not-so-subtly points out as being the one who had sex with Mark - the reporter makes him sound like a hero during the interview, and April storms out in a jealous rage when Andy thinks this might get Ann back (April's becoming more human with each passing episode). As the primary subplot, Ron asks Mark to approve an addition he's making for his woodworking shop (which is ridden with code violations), and Mark isn't as much of a pushover as Ron would like him to be - for the first time I can remember, there is serious tension between Mark and Ron (I've seen it between Mark and Andy, but not with Mark and Ron). Leslie is going through huge personal crisis over the captured possum (is it innocent? is it guilty? is it Fairway Frank or not?). April watches over the possum at Ann's house, and it gets loose - she calls Leslie in a panic, and the two are terrified of the little creature innocently shuffling around the house (I would be too, quite honestly). Mark takes a half day off work to help Ron come to city code, and finds a canoe on his desk with a bow on it - the two exchange a knowing glance of friendship. The episode ends with the possum in its own cage in the Pawnee Zoo, spared the death penalty, and with a sign by the cage saying "On Loan from A. Dwyer.]

19. "Park Safety" - Mar 18, 2010: PARKS_1269190871-000.jpg <--- Carl Lorthner is an overbearing park ranger who can't talk without yelling.

Written by Aisha Muharrar (2), Directed by Michael Trim

[Notes: Okay, I didn't like the spirit behind this episode at all; Jerry is a nice guy, and everyone is making fun of him and having laughs at his expense (this might have been funny when I was in high school, but not as an adult). Leslie holds something of a "reverse lottery" to determine who will refill the hummingbird feeders with sugar water - a job nobody wants - and everyone puts "Jerry" into the hat, and of course his name is drawn. After not appearing for what seems like forever, they get a call from the hospital: Jerry has been mugged, and has a separated shoulder. When he returns, everyone tries to be nice to him, but during a presentation, he completely messes it up, and does something extremely embarrassing - much to the laughter and delight of the entire department. (I'm sorry, but this just isn't funny - Jerry is an overweight diabetic, and younger, good-looking people are making fun of him, and their jokes aren't even that funny.) Leslie sticks up for her injured employee, and contacts park ranger Carl Lorthner (Andy Samberg, in the single most overbearing guest appearance so far in the series - he "yell-talks" incessantly, and it's not funny in the least; it's annoying, and it's endless). In the meantime, Ron hilariously teaches a self-defense class to the rest of the department, and gets a cocky Andy in a hold that renders him temporarily semi-conscious. Leslie appears on Pawnee Today, and gets $2,500 more funding from the mayor's office, but Carl finds a video that clearly shows that Jerry wasn't mugged at all; he had an embarrassing accident chasing after a breakfast burrito, separating his shoulder in the process. Mercifully, Leslie talks Carl out of ratting our Jerry, and they inexplicably discuss the film "Avatar" on another episode of "Pawnee Today." People continue making fun of Jerry, who turns to the camera and says he doesn't care (but he does - who wouldn't?). In a surprise development, Ann appears to be rekindling her feelings for Andy (Huh? What about your boyfriend, Mark?) This episode fails on every level except for Ron's self-defense class, unless you get off on making fun of older, overweight people with diabetes - it brought out meanness in everyone, including Leslie and Donna, two of the most likable people on the show.]

20. "Summer Catalog" - Mar 25, 2010: tumblr_mhbbgkIK6e1r11mjeo1_500.jpg <--- Looks like young love to me

Written by Harris Wittels (3), Directed by Tristram Shapeero (2)

[Notes: Leslie is working on the Pawnee "Summer Catalog," and arranges a surprise meeting between Ron (the department head) and his three predecessors. What she doesn't know in advance is that they don't like each other, and the situation turns out to be rather uncomfortable. Ron rocks a coonskin cap which Tom covets, and steals a good part of the show using it for various pickup lines in a hilarious sequence resulting in failure after failure. Tom is assigned the cover photo, but comes up with blank after blank (mirroring his failures with the coonskin cap, although that analogy is something of a stretch), but he finally convinces Mark and a shift-weary Ann to post for a cover photo - Mark is all for it since they have very few pictures together; Ann is less enthused because she looks a wreck after having just worked twelve hours (could this, combined with an inexplicably renewed interest in Andy, foreshadow the demise of their relationship? Remember, I'm writing these in sequence, not knowing what lies ahead, usually not even knowing what follows in the very episode I'm writing about). The three former P&R heads include a crotchety David Moser (Dakin Matthews), Clarence Carrington (Jack Wallace), and Michael Tansley (Michael Gross) - I wonder if the idea is a parody of this remarkable photo of five Presidents together. While they were wearily hiking to the picnic, Ron's line about the bacon, "Now it's gone and I hate everything" was laugh-out-loud funny (sorry to overuse that phrase, but when I'm sitting alone, and bleat out loud, that's laugh-out-loud funny). Poor Leslie can't get enough material for her newsletter because the men were such jerks to each other that there was nothing to quote, no pictures to use, and essentially nothing for her to work with. The dynamics between April and Andy are interesting - she couldn't get into a bar (she's only 20), and he went on home to her frustration. The episode ends with Leslie and Ron throwing darts at the four parks directors (yes, including a good-natured Ron).]

21. "94 Meetings" - Apr 29, 2010: parks-recreation-94-meetings.jpg <--- Leslie, chained to the front gate of the Turnbill Mansion

Written by Harris Wittels (4), Directed by Tristram Shapeero (3)

[Notes: Mark drops a bombshell during the cold open when he asks Leslie's advice about whether or not he should ask Ann to move in with him, adding, to her surprise, that he intends to ask her to marry him. Ron comes into work and notices a bunch of people outside his office, then asks April why - she replies, cheekily, that she has purposely been giving all people requesting meetings a date that doesn't really exist: March 31st. Oops! Well, thanks to April's bungle, there are 94 meetings scheduled for this March 31st, and Ron recruits anyone with a pulse to handle them. Leslie abandons her schedule when she finds out that Jessica (Miss Pawnee 1994 from "The Beauty Pageant") has taken it upon herself to make modifications to the historic Turnbill Mansion, and runs out to try and stop them, but golddigger Jessica is married to 85-year-old Nick Newport, Sr. (Christopher Murray), who owns the Sweetums candy company, and she's already made substantial changes. Leslie, however, is determined to stop them from razing the gazebo (which is depicted in one of Swanee's infamous murals), and chains herself to the front gate to prevent the bulldozer from coming in - the problem being that the gate doesn't open from the middle, and Leslie swings open along with the gate. Ron, furious at all these meetings, jumps down April's throat, and April, in true April fashion, simply quits - but Ron later goes over and apologizes to her and wins her back, the incident ultimately bringing the two even closer together as friends.]

22. "Telethon" - May 6, 2010: 1408127936000-LESLIE-SHAKES-DETLEF-HAND- <--- Leslie accepts a $5,000 check from Detlef Schrempf.

Written by Amy Poehler (1), Directed by Troy Miller (4)

[Notes: Leslie has volunteered to work the "Pawnee Cares" telethon for diabetes, and the Parks and Recreation staff gets recruited to work the 2AM-6AM shift - this, after Leslie has already been awake for 24 straight hours designing tee-shirts for the occasion. The afternoon of the telethon, Mark again tells Leslie that he's going to ask Ann to marry him (this is not boding well based on Ann's recent, and inexplicable, apparent change of heart towards Mark), and the stress of all this, combined with her sleepiness, is wiping Leslie out. In a wonderful guest role, Detlef Shrempf (playing himself) comes into town to be the special guest on the telethon, and Ron picks him up at the airport - with time to kill, they go to The Snakehole Lounge where the towering Shrempf is bringing in big business and attracting lots of attention. As a result, Ron and Detlef are late for the telethon, and Leslie is desperately putting on terrible acts, including Ron caning a chair (during this incredibly boring portion, the telethon is actually *losing* money, the screen hilariously counting downwards). Desperate, Leslie tells Mark he should propose to Ann on camera, but then Ann confides to Leslie that she wants to break up with Ron which sends her into an absolute panic. Andy and April's relationship is taking an opposite tack, with April flirting with guys to try and make Andy jealous (Andy is leery of the age difference, but he should be very happy to take April based on everything this series has shown us). The telethon hits a low when Leslie starts flipping a coin and writing the results on a whiteboard (heads / tails), and when Jerry comes on and plays a pretty darned good rendition of Brahm's A-flat major waltz Op 39 No 15 (yes I had to look that up), he is inexplicably dismissed despite being the only modicum of talent during the entire segment. Finally, Tom and Detlef arrive to save the day, and Shrempf presents the Pawnee Cares Pledge Drive with a check for $5,000 from his foundation, pushing them well above the $20,000 mark. For having never acted before, Shrempf did a fine job, and came across as being likable and a very interesting choice of guests (especially for us sports fans).]

23. "The Master Plan" - May 13, 2010: Parks_and_recreation_the_master_plan.jpg <--- We're introduced to Ben Wyatt and Chris Traeger, two major future players.

Written by Michael Schur (7), Directed by Dean Holland (3)

[Notes: As with "The Practice Date" and "Tom's Divorce," "The Master Plan" is almost surely looked upon as a pivotal episode, introducing two major new characters, and sadly ending one of the series' important relationships. Leslie is thrilled about presenting the Master Plan - the budget proposal ("Master Plan" is also being used as a double entendre given that it lays the groundwork for the future of the series as we rapidly approach the end of season two). The City Manager, Paul (who we first met in "Sweetums," brings in two state auditors from Indianapolis to address Pawnee's massive budget deficit, and both are inherently nemeses of Leslie, since Leslie is so pro-government - this antagonistic relationship is automatic; Ron, on the other hand, is absolutely delighted at the thought of budget cuts, shutdowns, layoffs, etc., since he's such a Libertarian. As a subplot, April turns 21 (Did she not say, in an earlier episode, that she was pregnant with Andy's child? I could have sworn I heard her say it, but nothing else about it has been brought up, I think she sort of murmured it, and I don't even remember which episode it was in - am I imagining I heard this?) Anyway, the state auditors are Chris Traeger (Rob Lowe, who I knew played a part in this series, so I assume he's going to be returning) and Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) who, based on his interplay with Leslie in this episode, is a potential candidate for a future love interest. Chris is happy to the point of being insane, and plans on living to be 150 years old - he does chin-ups while listening to relaxation music - but he and Ben play Good Cop - Bad Cop, with Ben doing the dirty work of budget slashing, much to Leslie's consternation and outright hatred (this is also a clue to me that these two will wind up together in some shape or form). April's party is at the Snakehole Lounge, and everyone gets sloshed - incredibly, Ann flirts with Andy right in front of April, and needless to say, that doesn't sit well; Tom is trying to pick up up every hot-looking woman in the bar (and there are plenty of them). Even Ben shows up at the nightclub, and Leslie dresses him down once again. The next morning is Hangover City, and both Leslie and Ann are miserable, with Ann having memory loss - she's almost sure she made out with someone, but can't remember who it is (Was it Andy? No, actually, it was Chris, and it was sort of a half-hearted, drunken make-out which doesn't count for much. Yet.) I'm left feeling pretty sorry for Mark at this point - I was vesting myself in Mark and Ann's relationship, and I didn't want to see them break up (but, as I did a bit of research, I found out that the next episode is Mark's last, but hopefully that's temporary); on the other hand, Tom went back to The Snakehole Lounge the next morning to settle up his tab (he bought 47 drinks for girls!), and meets a comely bartender, Lucy (Natalie Morales), who seems interested in him - they exchange both friendly glances, and also phone numbers, agreeing to go out the next night - we all love Tom, and we all want someone to love him - as big of a talker as he is, we know he's a softy at heart, and looking for a nice girl to fall in love with. Leslie apologizes to Ben, the two start behaving civilly towards each other, and Ben even asks her out for a beer, so both Tom and Leslie appear to have met people with potential, despite poor Mark being pretty much crushed (I'm not sure why I feel sorry for him - he was a cad before Ann stole his heart). The episode ends with an announcement that the government of Pawnee will need to shut down due to its massive budget deficit.]

24. "Freddy Spaghetti" - May 20, 2010: MTIyOTQyODE0OA==_o_freddy-spaghetti-prod <--- The good-natured Freddy Spaghetti

Written by Daniel J. Goor (4), Directed by Jason Woliner (3)

[Notes: Here we are at the final episode of Season Two, and wow, what a remarkable level of development this season has made. The Parks and Recreation Department is shut down due to a budget crisis, with Chris and Ben absolutely playing the Good Cop - Bad Cop roles that I mentioned in episode 23. However, the citizens, at a town-hall meeting, are really upset that Freddy Spaghetti (Brian McCann) won't be appearing at a party the next night (Spaghetti, despite the episode being named after him, really is just a bit player with a minor role - this is Leslie's episode). There are several big events in this episode: Mark has taken a buyout, and is leaving to work in the private sector (Leslie, angry, calls him "Brendanaquits"), but this is in large part to him having been badly hurt by Ann, who has taken a hit in my eyes. April and Andy both tell each other about their feelings, but Andy - like an *idiot* - wants to have a clean slate with April, and tells her that Ann just kissed him a couple minutes before, sending April storming out of the hospital room (oh, did I mention Andy bought a motorcycle, wrecked it, and broke his arm in several places?) Ron is taking an evil pleasure in the government being shut down, but argues like a stone wall when Ben says Leslie's job is being cut - Ron is a stand-up guy, and he isn't budging an inch on this issue, even going so far as to offer his resignation to save Leslie. Spaghetti - who booked another gig when told of the cancellation - shows up last-second in front of a couple hundred people, many of them children eager to hear him, because Ben, surprisingly, made a special effort to seek him out and offer him more money: The Bad Cop ends up having a heart after all. One of the last scenes in the episode is one of the most touching, and Mark goes out on a very high note. Leslie is sitting alone in the dark field that used to be the pit, where the Spaghetti concert was held. Mark approaches her, and they trade gifts: Leslie appropriately bought him a roll of red tape; Mark sketched out a plan for her future park, and although Leslie tells him there will be no park because Pawnee is broke, Mark sincerely tells Leslie he wouldn't put anything past her, gives her a genuinely tender kiss on the cheek, and says, "See you around," before disappearing, possibly forever. The next day, Ron has appointed Leslie to take his place on the budget task force, and as Tom is unpacking his office with his new girlfriend Lucy in the room, Ron walks in, wearing his "Tiger Woods outfit" which Tom laughs at, telling Lucy that means he had sex the night before; however, Wendy, Tom's ex-wife, walks in and gives Ron a kiss on the lips, as Tom looks on in horror. End of season.]

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Season Three

 
1. "Go Big Or Go Home" - Jan 20, 2011: pyramid-jumbo_fullsize_1295585808-000.jp <--- Is this hilarious or what?

Written by Alan Yang (4), Directed by Dean Holland (3)
 
[Notes: The soft open consists of the end of a three-month shutdown, and Leslie rounding up the crew from their part-time jobs - Ron, Donna, Tom, and Jerry, all crammed into Leslie's Prius (what *else* would she drive?), and driving back to City Hall. There's a new beginning theme song, this time (sadly) omitting Mark, but including Ben and Chris (but why not Donna?). Ben informs the team that funding is severely cut, and that their job is to do nothing new - they're in "maintenance mode" (as someone who has worked with the federal government as a contractor, I can tell you quite honestly, that we were once instructed to do the same thing: basically show up for work, but don't do anything novel - lovely use of taxpayers' money, huh?). However, a basketball league is funded (it is, after all, Indiana), and Ron is coaching the boys team - he introduces them to "The Swanson Pyramid of Greatness." Leslie and Ann come up with a scheme to get funding - Ann will need to be 'a prostitute, but without the money part,' and she's all for it, although up until now she has rebuffed Chris's advances while acknowledging to Leslie that she thinks he's hot (he is, after all, Rob Lowe). Ann agrees to go out on a date with Chris, and casually hit him up for money - Leslie shows up to get things moving, but so does Ben, who's on to Leslie's scheme. Ron's basketball team is playing Andy's basketball team, the game refereed by Tom, and Wendy shows up, giving Ron a kiss much to Tom's chagrin; however, Lucy is a very nice consolation prize for Tom: "she's Cuban, she's got tattoos, and she's into me," he says. I say, "Hold on to her, Tom!" The action shifts back-and-forth from the basketball game to The Bulge Bar, where the foursome date has ended up. Tom is discriminating against Ron's team (he's angry about Wendy), and Ron pulls a Bobby Knight, throwing a chair across the gym. Leslie, in the meantime, spills the beans about her plan like an *idiot*. Andy sees April after three months, and is so excited he can't contain himself; April has been in Venezuela, and introduces Andy to her, gulp, boyfriend, Eduardo. Andy asks Leslie for advise, and she says, "Go big, or go home!" telling him to go get her. He does, and April mistranslates what he says in front of her non-English-speaking boyfriend, to great effect.]
 
2. "The Flu" - Jan 27, 2011: Flu-Season-Parks-and-Rec.jpg <--- Ann confines April to the hospital.

Written by Norm Hiscock (4), Directed by Wendey Stanzler

[Notes: Also titled "Flu Season," much of Pawnee is flattened by a miserable flu season, and April is in the hospital with Amy as her nurse (don't forget, April does not like Amy, especially after she kissed Andy). Leslie is organizing a Harvest Festival (remember this - it's apparently a big deal later in the series), but she, too, is showing signs of the flu. The ensemble is straining to get back on its feet, with the first part of the episode straining to reestablish the show - Leslie is sick and quarantined in her office, Ann is dating Chris (who is just ... odd), April doesn't want to see Andy, and Ron is, well, Ron. Ben takes Leslie to the hospital, where Ann takes her temperature, which is a whopping 104.1 degrees, and admits her. Chris is flattened with the flu as well, and Leslie absconds with both April's and Chris's flu medicine in the hospital, and leaves in a state of delirium, determined to make her presentation for the Harvest Festival rather than trust Ben to do it. Tom (who was going to help Ben give the presentation in Leslie's absence, goes AWOL and makes three older male friends at Pawnee's spa in a bizarre subplot). Ann *likes* that Chris is delirious, because she's intimidated that he's so perfect (Ann, to me, has become very much less likable of late); Chris, a really weird character, is funny when he's delirious - the floor becomes his best friend, and it's pretty much the first time I've liked his character - I may be in the minority, but I vote thumbs down so far on the arrival of Ben and Chris. Tom's new spa friends are wealthy car dealers, who agree to donate cars to the festival (a big deal), and an escaped Leslie somehow rallies and delivers a flawless presentation despite being sick as a dog - Ben is immensely impressed by this, and is clearly growing more-and-more fond of Leslie, and when he later visits her in the hospital, he tells her she won over 110 businesses to participate instead of the 80 she was hoping for. Andy subs for an ailing April, and becomes closer friends with Ron (a clever way to develop this relationship), and Ron breaks down and tells Andy that April is in the hospital (he was trying to stay out of it). Ann, the second her shift ends, dresses April down for being such a bitch - April then turns to the camera, and said that was the most she's ever liked Ann - a perfect line for her to deliver. The episode ends with Chris and Ben seeking an extension, ostensibly to help with the Festival; in reality, because they've grown fond of Ann and Leslie, respectively. This was a complex episode that most critics will probably like; I think it sputtered along.]
 
3. "Time Capsule" - Feb 3, 2011: parks-and-recreation-season-3-3-time-cap <--- Why doesn't this date say MMLXI?

Written and Directed by Michael Schur (8)

[Notes: Pawnee is burying an impressive-looking time capsule, intended to capture the current spirit of Pawnee for folks fifty years in the future, but it turns into the citizens arguing with each other as to what should go in it. A man named Kelly Larson (Will Forte) inexplicably and forcefully insists that a cheesy series of novels called "Twilight" be included, and when Leslie says no, Kelly handcuffs himself to a pipe in Leslie's office - clearly, he's a whack-job. Furthermore, he's able to stay for a long time because he brought food and a pillow. Kelly notices Tom is sad because Ron is dating his ex-wife, Wendy, and Kelly encourages him to read "Twilight" - Ron gives it a go, and *loves* the book, relating to many thing in it. Lucy visits Tom, and says she'd like to give their relationship another go, if Tom could only get over his ex-wife (Tom! Listen up! Let it go! Lucy seems like a great girl!). Leslie finds out the books belong to Kelly's 12-year-old daughter (he's divorced), and it turns out, well, he's not such a whack-job after all; he's just a grieving father who loves his daughter, and is willing to go to great lengths to show her that (this sort of tugged at my heartstrings, I must admit). Leslie, during a town meeting (really, a town argument), at first suggest multiple time capsules, but instead decides (brilliantly, I will add) to include *only* a video of that town meeting, instead of everything people wanted to stick in the capsule) - this solves the problem. April is dating Eduardo, the hunky Venezuelan, but it's clear (from a brief shot in the hospital during the previous episode) that she still likes Andy. Unbelievably (perhaps a little too unbelievably), Andy and Eduardo turn out to like each other, finding they have things in common. Andy appears to be hitting it off with April after all (who was only dating Eduardo to make Andy jealous, and has anyone notice how much more April is smiling these days?), and Ann appears to be hitting it off with Chris, although I still Chris's basic personality is just too weird. The episode ends with the town of Pawnee watching an outdoor screening of "Twilight.]
 
4. "Ron and Tammy, Part II" - Feb 10, 2011: megan-mullally-and-nick-offerman.png <--- The Ron and Tammy episodes are epic.

Written by Emily Kapnek, Directed by Tucker Gates

[Notes: You have no idea how much I've been looking forward to this. How is it *not* going to be, at the minimum, "decent" with moments of belly laughs? And, sure enough ... a gentleman from the Controller's Office ("Cont roller," as applied to this episode, has an alternative spelling) comes to tell Ron about an overdue library book: "It's Not The Size Of The Boat - Embracing Life With A Micro-Penis," and that's just the very first line of the soft opening (Ron already knows it's Tammy's sabotage). Ron has Leslie go with him to the Library Department (for moral support), and when they walk in ... oh God, I could rehash this entire episode, but you just need to see it for yourselves ... Leslie went so far as to pre-program his phone with "911" already dialed, so all he has to do is press "Send," and things quickly go downhill from there. I *love* these Ron and Tammy episodes! Every five seconds has something funny - the whale-tail ("Abort! Abort!"), the beef-jerky face flog ... and this is just the soft opening. Pizza Party for the Police for volunteering during the Harvest Festival, Ben's fixation with calzones, Ron's pre-lunch with Wendy, the break-up, Tom's confession to Andy on the shoe-shine stand, Chris borrowing April (I'm starting to like Rob Lowe, btw, because he doesn't take himself seriously at all), the pizza party at the bar, Ann's infatuation with Chris, Chief Trumple (Eric Pierpoint) and his annoyance with Ben, Tom strolling in with Tammy to piss off Ron (which works!), "I know Tammy *seems* crazy, but really, she's just a manipulative, psychotic, library-book-peddling, sex-crazed, she-demon" (I mean, how do you comment about a line like that?), "Damn it woman! Just crawl back into the dank hole you came from and leave my friends alone!", police intervention, Ron and Tammy going for coffee, sex in the holding cells with Ron's hair suddenly in corn rows (the episode is only half over at this point), the flashback: screaming, kissing, sex on a police car, the hair salon, wedding rings (Ron's on his penis), punching through a window, the marriage, sex at the wedding (we're still only halfway done), return to sanity - sort of - with Chris asking April to cancel his lunch with Ann, April fake-calling Ann, Leslie and Ben bailing out Ron, Ron in the back seat saying "Take me back to Tammy!", the mustache rubbed off ... from friction, the intervention, Ann showing up for lunch, Ron's video to himself, "Give me head," intervention scatters, Andy's note to Chris releasing April, Leslie blaming Tom, Tom breaking up the wedding party, Tammy beating up Tom, faking four out of the seven, Ben and Leslie going for calzone, Ron and Tom toasting using Jerry's wedding glasses, my goodness I'm glad I didn't write anything; this would have been 10,000 words long.]
 
5. "Media Blitz" - Feb 17, 2011: parksandrecmediablitz.jpg <--- Ben and Leslie publicizing the Harvest Festival

Written by Harris Wittels (5), Directed by David Rogers

[Notes: Ron found a new electric typewriter (with original carriage return!) and is driving everyone in the office nuts with the noise - he's like a little kid with a new toy. The office conspires to steal it when he walks out, only to find that he typed a message saying he'd kill anyone who tampered with it - they scamper out like kids about to be caught by their parents - this is a great soft opening. Ben breaks the bad news that only 34.2% of people are aware of Harvest Fest (this is a breakout scene for Leslie, where she makes fun of Ben being a robot - contrast this with her ditzy behavior of season one, and it's night-and-day. There have been glimpses of this change for awhile now, but it has gotten much stronger of late). So Leslie plans a "media blitz" to publicize the Harvest Festival (newspaper, TV, radio, a call to Oprah), and their first interview is on morning radio, with "Crazy Ira and The Douche." To Ann's despair, Chris encourages April to come with him to Indianapolis, and she kind-of sort-of agrees. Andy makes April (about whom he has really become fond) an offer: He'll do her least-favorite things for a month if she doesn't go to Indianapolis, and she kind-of sort-of agrees with that too. The guys on the radio show are typical yuck-it-up college-boy humorists, and they "out" Ben as being a former failed 18-year-old failed mayor of Partridge, MN (he's now 35), and Adam Scott does a great acting job of being tongue-tied and addled. In the meantime, Andy is running the permits desk for an hour, and has to face the Pawnee crazies - Ron doesn't want to lose April, because he knows he'll never find anyone else so incompetent (remember, Ron is a Libertarian and hates government), so he agrees to help Andy - Donna hilariously "inserts" a daily foot massage onto April's list of things, and gets Andy to massage her feet ("Work the hill," she says). Chris is having dinner at Ann's, and she is becoming extremely frustrated at not being able to communicate with him - she really likes him, but can't read him at all. Leslie tries to finesse her way through an interview with Shauna, and Ben falls flat on his face during a TV interview (this 18-year-old mayor thing is really, really a sore point with him), and then fails even more miserably in a second one on "Pawnee Today" with sleazy tabloid reporter Joan, but remarkably recovers and gets into his groove, perhaps even "finding himself" in this brutal process. The episode ends with April taking Andy in her arms and kissing him - he has finally won her over. I think. Gosh I've become fond of this show and it's characters.]
 
6. "Indianapolis" - Feb 24, 2011: fc,550x550,brown.u4.jpg <--- This poster often hangs in Ron's office.

Written by Katie Dippold (3), Directed by Randall Einhorn (2)

[Notes: Ron and Leslie travel to Indiana for a commendation for rekindling the Harvest Festival, Ron couldn't care less, but is cartwheel-excited about going to Charles Mulligan's Steakhouse, "the best damn steakhouse in the damn state," pulling out a picture book of every steak he's ever eaten there. Tom is going to attend a soirée at the Snakehole Lounge for Dennis Feinstein's (Jason Mantzoukas) new fragrance, and is determined to peddle one of his own: "Tommy Fresh" - Leslie talks him into taking Ben (uncool Ben) with him. Ann tells Leslie that her last conversation with Chris went swimmingly, but that he's been acting strangely, and asks Leslie to look for signs that he's cheating on her (remember: Chris moved back to Indianapolis). Andy and April are now officially dating, but Andy is bummed that he's broke and can't spend money on the girl he wants to spoil (this is actually really cute). Ron is almost literally salivating for dinner - he hasn't eaten all day - but they have to stop by Chris's house first, where Leslie snoops, and finds a woman's razor and pink bath cap in the bathroom, then calls Ann and tells her he's cheating, to which an incensed Ann vows to drive up there. To Ron's howling, Mulligan's has been shut down by the health department, and they go back to Chris's for dinner where he serves them a salad and grilled portabello mushrooms. Ron ends up at a late-night diner where he's served 'an excuse for a steak,' sends it back, and orders "all the bacon and eggs they have," and he means it quite literally - all they have in the entire restaurant. Dennis - a real jerk - insults Tom's fragrance, and Ben consoles him; Andy and April show up at the event, and finagle money out of people in order to buy drinks. While Ron and Leslie are having dinner with Chris, Ann storms in and lambasts him - it turns out that Chris had broken up with her last week, but he's so upbeat that she didn't even realize it (this plot piece doesn't really work very well). Also, the ladies razor is his, and the pink swim cap is something he used in a breast-cancer triathlon. Leslie sacrifices attending the ceremony in order to drive her distraught friend Ann home, consoling her on the way - they, too, end up at the Snakehole Lounge party. Ben takes revenge for Tom's shoddy treatment by Dennis by spraying his nasty-smelling "Tommy Fresh" all throughout Dennis's SUV. This was a hodgepodge episode with no strong point, and no character development or plot advancement except the breakup of Chris and Ann - basically, nothing really happened, and Ron's childlike enthusiasm over the steakhouse was by far the funniest, best part. The viewer is also left wondering if Chris will be gone after this episode.]

ANNOUNCEMENT! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ANNOUNCEMENT!

I'd like nothing more than to write reviews of these episodes, and have lively discussions about them, but there comes a point when you just have to surrender - I'm doing nothing more than adding my own spin on perfectly adequate "Parks and Recreation" Wikis here, and especially here. So while I'd still like to document things (if nothing else, so I can look back at it for reference), and have discussions about the shows (which I hope you'll engage in with me), I'm going to cut my losses, and switch over to a format more in line with what I'm doing with "All In The Family." What I've been doing here is just too back-breakingly time consuming, and it's not worth the effort - you'll find perfectly good summaries at the two links I referred to in this paragraph. I've already blitzed ahead into late Season 5, and I'd never catch up if I attempted to write a mini-review of each show, and again, I *hate* duplicating existing information on the internet - it's a total waste of time - although I'll continue to link to it so that this thread is as useful as possible. Also, there are a couple episodes down below where I've already written detailed mini-reviews of, and I'll leave those intact, because why undo work that has already been done? But a couple episodes also got messed up during the editing process, and I'm not going to rewrite those from scratch. Cheers, Rocks

ANNOUNCEMENT! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ANNOUNCEMENT!

 
7. "Harvest Festival" - Mar 17, 2011: 590077ff655ac5ca6ca05f1a25cd6a7c.jpg <--- The introduction of the beloved L'il Sebastian

Written by Daniel J. Goor (5), Directed by Dean Holland (4)

[Notes: L'il Sebastian is worshipped to Ben's incredulity, the hilarious Ken Hotate curses the festival site, April tells Andy she loves him, Joan Callamezzo reports on L'il Sebastian escaping and getting lost.]

8. "Camping" - Mar 24, 2011: ParksandRecCamping_post.jpg <--- Tom's camping digs, full of SkyMall bling

Written by Aisha Muharrar (3), Directed by Rob Schrab

[Notes: To inspire team inspiration, Leslie plans a camping trip which goes haywire. Tom bring the bling with his outrageous living quarters, and everyone ends up in a B&B.]
 
9. "Andy and April's Fancy Party" - Apr 14, 2011: parks-and-recreation-season-3-9-fancy-pa <--- This scene is insane.

Written by Kate Dippold (4), Directed by Michael Trim (2)

 
[Notes: Ron has dental pain during a meeting, and rather than go to a dentist, he (in typical manly man fashion) pulls out a pocket knife and pulls his tooth to everyone's horror. He confides to the mockumentary camera that the dentist pulled the tooth the day before, "but it's always a good idea to demonstrate to your co-workers that you're capable of withstanding a tremendous amount of pain." Well done, Nick Offerman - great acting; unlike Phil Reeves, who doesn't have the sheer number of chances you have, you're consistently funny, and consistently one of the strongest actors on the show. After the opening credits, Andy and April come strolling into the office with invitations to a dinner party that evening at 7 PM, each invitation containing instructions on what to bring - basically, everyone else is going to be supplying everything needed for the party, including steaks. Ben asks Leslie whether or not he should go back to Indianapolis or stay in Pawnee - an obvious attempt to get her to ask him to stay. That evening, Ann, in a subplot, is at "Mezze" for a "Singles Night," and she's very much out of her element, never before having the need to resort to such things to find a man. April's friend Orin (Eric Isenhower) is at the party - he's a weird loner, and Leslie warns people to stay away from him (implying that he's the type to snap, and go on a shooting spree). Chris is in charge of bringing the cake, and instead brings a vegetable loaf much to Ron's consternation: post-2-0-06542600-1429273548_thumb.png At Singles Night, Ann spots Donna, and walks up to her, happy to see her; but Donna blows her off, setting her straight: "Do you know where you are right now? We're in the jungle. There are no friends here - it's every woman for herself!" to Ann's disbelief. At the party, Leslie finds out that Andy and April are planning a surprise wedding that very night - she goes out and tells Ron and Tom, hoping they'll talk some sense into Andy and April; Tom goes up and asks Andy if he can be his best man, and Andy says, "Yeah, dude - totally!" but Andy then starts asking other people as well. While Leslie is talking sense into April, Andy comes into the room and asks April her middle name because the Justice of the Peace needs to know. Ann is flailing miserably at Singles Night (she's not used to these things), and Donna rushes to her aid, giving her some desperately needed advice. But Leslie calls Ann, telling her about the pending wedding (which is happening within minutes), asking her to come and intervene - Leslie is desperate, but as the ceremony starts, she gets caught up in the genuine beauty of it, and smiles (that said, it really is unbelievable to watch this unfold - but it happens, and sure enough, they get married). Ron calms Leslie down, and gives a brief discourse on how to burn an ex-wife effigy. Ann is shaken up by the marriage, and wants to leave the party; Donna talks some sense into her, and Ann goes up and flirts with a guy. It's interesting - the moderate amount of selfishness in this series (in this show, on full display by Andy and April, even Donna at the beginning, and certainly the mistreatment of Jerry) was almost surely influenced by Seinfeld. Leslie bumps into Ben and asks him to stay; Ben said he already made up his mind and is staying - all the cards are in place for a full-blown romance between Leslie and Ben. Meanwhile, Orin is behind them, and it's noteworthy - to the point of being tremendously unfortunate - how much he looks and acts like Adam Lanza, especially given that they've strongly portrayed Orin as a Lanza-type character. The viewer must realize, however, that this episode came out *before* the Sandy Hook shootings; otherwise, they never would have gotten away with this - its prescience is downright scary. The episode ends with Andy and April sending a video from their modest honeymoon, but my feelings at the end are that I can't shake thoughts of Sandy Hook (this is completely unfair to the show, as they were entirely innocent and did nothing wrong - the problem is that once you notice this, you can't un-notice it).]
 
10. "Soulmates" - Apr 21, 2011: Picture-10-425x235.png <--- Here's why you don't believe everything a computer tells you.

Written by Alan Yang (5), Directed by Ken Whittingham

 
[Notes: Chris announces Pawnee is the 4th-most obese city in America, and announces a government-wide health initiative. He tells Ron he can make a turkey burger that tastes better than his hamburger, and the challenge is on. Ann (dating around now) helps Leslie set up an internet dating profile after Leslie is met with wishy-washy behavior by Ben. Chris drags everyone, including Ron, to Grain 'n' Simple, and Ron says he "came here for the same reason people go to the zoo." Ann finds Leslie a 98% match - unheard of on this online dating website - and, crouching over the computer, Ann and Leslie eagerly await to see who her soulmate is. When her soulmate comes up, Leslie recoils and screams: post-2-0-72713300-1429325759_thumb.pngpost-2-0-06994700-1429325774_thumb.png Leslie sets out on a "douche-vestigation" - actively trying to find out why only douchey guys are interested in her at the moment (one of them tells her she has "a killer dumpster"). Damn it! Just now I literally spit out an entire mouthful of water all over my computer screen: a kid offers Ron a free sample of the veggie bacon, 100% meatless - he says sure, accepts a piece, and casually drops it in the trashcan. "Another, please." He accepts another piece, and casually drops it in the trashcan too. Kid: "Sir, is ... is there a problem?" (This is where I spat all over the screen): Ron deadpans, "I'm just making sure no one ever has to eat this." It wasn't *that* funny, but it caught me off-guard, and I just spewed. Leslie takes Tom to lunch to quiz him on what he likes in women, and mistakenly confides in him about Hoosier-Match - Tom is beyond flattered, and takes it semi-seriously, annoying Leslie in the process. Tom bothers Leslie to the point where she has a moment of insanity, and plants one on him, only to be caught in the act by Chris. With no other options, Leslie pulls the fire alarm ... which is broken. Cut to the courtyard, where Chris and Ron are riffing on Iron Chef - the judges are Donna, Jerry, and Kyle (Andy Forrest). Ron's beef burger beats Chris's turkey burger unanimously (even Chris admits it's better). Leslie resolves herself to try to make things work with Ben, and Tom confesses he put up 26 profiles - Leslie picked the "Nerd" profile.]
 
11. "Jerry's Painting" - Apr 28, 2011: painting.jpg <--- Well, of *course* Leslie loves this painting!

Written by Norm Hiscock (5), Directed by Dean Holland (5)

[Notes: Jerry submits a painting to an art exhibit, and its unveiling produces some surprised looks. post-2-0-20435700-1429588445_thumb.png Jim O'Heir does an excellent acting job portraying Jerry, innocently realizing he painted Leslie as Diaphena. Well, this isn't a total surprise, but Leslie absolutely *loves* the painting, as it portrays her as a woman of strength. A hilarious subplot develops when it's noticed that the flying, angelic cherub in the painting has the face of Tom (to Tom's horror) - also a Freudian slip by Jerry, but one that plays a major part in the episode: post-2-0-45113300-1429588999_thumb.png (and of epic importance: we now have a conflict between "Tom and Jerry"). The little glance Leslie gave downward at a visitor's "midsection," right after all the initial hysteria ends, is a bit overplayed, even though the entire moment lasted about a half-second (that's the thing with this show: a *lot* of ground can be covered in less than five seconds, as crazy as it sounds - what is this literary device called? It isn't Deus ex Machina, but it's something just as powerful. Leslie acquires a god(dess) complex, and braids her hair accordingly - being grandiose in her new portrayal ... until she runs into her nemesis from Season 2, Episode 1 ("Pawnee Zoo"): Marcia Langman, who wants the painting not only removed, but destroyed, because it's obscene and pornographic: this is the battle that takes place for the second half of the episode. Chris hears her out, and somewhat agrees with her objections (revealing that in college, he was in "a nude production of 'Cats'"). Back to the dwindling subplot: Ben is horrified at the living conditions of April and Andy's apartment. "Ya Heard With Perd" airs on TV, with Leslie defending the painting, and Perd (Jay Jackson) brings on a *porn star* to defend Leslie, damning her by association with "Brandi Maxxxx," who has starred in over 200 movies since she first got into the business "last year." Needless to say, Tom flirts with her. Chris lambasts Leslie and assumes she has become some sort of tawdry person of late - the painting goes before the Public Art Commission: Leslie is certain they'll support her, but to her shock and dismay, the bureaucracy comes out in the end, and the painting is to be destroyed (not just removed, but destroyed) - Leslie, however, steals the painting which ticks off Chris. The subplot with Ben, Andy, and April gets a lot of screen time, but comes across as insignificant in the grand scheme of the episode, which is so strong that it overwhelms everything else. April, shopping at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, shirks Ben's shopping list, and she and Andy buy a marshmallow gun (and a lot of other insignificant things) instead - the scene where Andy shoots Ben with the gun is really funny. You know what's amazing? Andy does a *great* job at coming across as someone bordering on being total street scum, and it's almost unimaginable that, in real life, Chris Pratt is a multi-millionaire - I think that pretty much testifies to his acting ability in this series. As grungy as he comes across, he does it terrifically, and is so convincing that I can't imagine anyone else in his role - good for you, Chris Pratt. Leslie presents a modified painting to Marcia to destroy, with Tom having "painted over" Leslie, and resulting in a painting so morally inoffensive that even Marcia can't see anything wrong with it. Tom, needless to say, is delighted with the wicked-macho result: post-2-0-76663900-1429592051_thumb.png Of course, Leslie, in her brilliance, had Jerry paint a second painting altogether, rather than painting over the first (this was an unpredictable surprise, and a great ending).]

 
12. "Eagleton" - May 5, 2011: eGpjamVyMTI=_o_parks-and-recreation-eagl <--- Leslie's Eagleton-based nemesis, Lindsay Carlisle Shay

Written by Emily Spivey, Directed by Nicole Holofcener

 
[Notes: This is one episode where the subplot is better and more important than the main plot - Leslie connives Ron's birthday date out of him, and the entire episode is spent with Ron terrified of his upcoming surprise party, and this is the beginning of a genuinely heartwarming interplay between Leslie and Ron. The main plot begins with Tom rushing in to inform everyone that Eagleton has built a fence in the park which contains the border between Pawnee and Eagleton, and Leslie immediately knows it's the work of her nemesis and former best friend, Lindsay Carlisle Shay (Parker Posey, who reportedly worked long and hard to make a guest appearance on the show). April's job is to taunt Ron about his worst nightmare - his surprise party, and she does it masterfully. Lindsay makes an appearance, and is a pompous ass, offending everyone in the Parks & Rec office (her character is grossly overplayed (even beyond the norm), and if the whole series was like this, I couldn't watch it). The Pawnee office attends an Eagleton public forum, and it's lavish beyond reason - they even give out iPod Touches to each attendee in a gift bag - and the audience at the forum is just as insufferable as Lindsay. Ron, in the meantime, is being tortured by the office, the entire staff continually dropping hints about his upcoming party. The public forum scene is fairly extended, and also well-done, highlighting the polar differences between the two towns in an exaggerated way. Things bop back-and-forth between the plot and sub-plot without transition, just like they're bouncing back-and-forth in this essay. Chris finds out Ron's birthday is coming up, and gives him a kiss on the cheek post-2-0-42343000-1429660850_thumb.png, and Ron is getting so paranoid that he's wearing himself out. Leslie decides to throw garbage over the fence onto the Eagleton side, but Lindsay shows up, and the two have an epic garbage fight when Lindsay feeds a JJ's Diner waffle to her dog to use as a laxative (they used stunt doubles for one scene in this fight). Tom's speech to Lindsay just before the tussle was a failure, both in content and execution (I think Aziz Ansari is generally very good in this series, but he missed this one - however, "Take this resume, and shove it into your human-resources slot" was something close to a perfect line (I know Ansari is supposed to over-act, but I wish there was a way he could do it more subtly because he sometimes becomes annoying)). Rather than apologize to one-another, both Leslie and Lindsay choose to spent the night in the clink, and the prison - almost surely in Eagleton although that's never stated - is hilariously lavish - simultaneously, Andy continues the teasing of Ron, who's getting haggard and exhausted from worry, even spending the night in the office so he didn't have to go home and face a potential surprise party. As Ann picks up Leslie from jail the next morning, she humorously offers to bash Lindsay's head in with a baseball bat, and Leslie has a "Eureka!" moment - all of a sudden, we're watching the Pawnee Wiffle Ball League (transitioning from Waffle to Wiffle), which has players from Eagleton on the teams, and uses the fence that Eagleton built as the outfield wall - it's perfectly shaped and designed for a little-league field. In an extraordinary moment of grace, Leslie offers to take Lindsay out for a drink, and Lindsay - so impressed with what Leslie has done - takes her up on it: the genius bureaucrat also possesses a Gandhi-like kindness. In the final scene, perhaps the single most touching of the entire series to date, Leslie comes into Ron's office, beckoning him to attend a meeting that Ben and Chris have called in Conference Room C - Ron braces himself as the door is opened, and you'll just have to watch the final couple of minutes for yourselves. Leslie has completed her metamorphosis from ditzy parody (in early Season 1) to a near-perfect person. Happy birthday, Ron!]
 
13. "The Fight" - May 12, 2011: fight.jpg <--- Even Ron gets hammered at the Snakehole Lounge.

Written by Amy Poehler (2), Directed by Randall Einhorn (3)
  
[Notes: During the cold opening, Ron is going around in a circle, asking everyone who broke the coffee machine: Leslie, April, Tom, Ben, and Donna. Leslie immediate confesses, but Ron knows she's lying. People set off on one-another, like "The Twilight Zone's" episode, "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street." Ron looks to the camera and confesses that he broke it, and that "it was getting a little chummy around here." Evil, man, pure evil! Tom pushes "Snake Juice" via "Gorilla Marketing," and is having a party tonight at the Snakehole Lounge - Snake Juice is an ultra high-octane drink that's about 140-proof and has caffeine in it - lethal, but Ron actually likes it and walks around The Snake Hole foisting it on people. Pawnee is looking for a new PR Director for the Health Department, and Leslie submitted Ann's name to Chris, and she's pumped about the interview. At the Snake Lounge, the Snake Juice is wildly popular, and people are getting ripped. Jean-Ralphio Saperstein (Ben Schwartz) helps Tom distribute the Snake Juice throughout the lounge, and April and Andy role play in a kinky way. Ann is on a date with "The Douche" from Pawnee's popular radio show, and Leslie slips in a subtle insult, which escalates, and before you know it, Leslie and Ann are having World War III, completely blasted from the Snake Juice which only amplifies the battle, and what a battle it is! Straight-laced Chris shows up and tells Tom that what he's doing is against government rules, and threatens him without any subtlety. Leslie and Ann's "Angry Dance" is probably the funniest thing in the episode: post-2-0-08590300-1435670043_thumb.png

14. "The Road Trip" - May 12, 2011: a_560x375.jpg <--- Ben, Leslie, and Chris on their way to Indianapolis

Written by Harris Wittels (6), Directed by Troy Miller (5)

  
[Notes: Leslie and Ben (in love) go to Indianapolis with Chris to make a pitch for Pawnee hosting a Little League tournament; Tom prototypes "Know Ya' Boo"; Ron teaches a young girl to be a Libertarian]

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I watched the first season over the course of a month a while back. It has some chuckles in it, but I just got bored of it. I'll bet I will be told I need to give it another go, but I have 35 other series in the queue to think about. Haha!

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See this post for credit of this fun, Washington, DC-based episode.

What intersection is this? I'm not recognizing it. I want to say it's looking NW towards The Oval Room, but that's not The Oval Room. Anyone know? This might sound Ben-nerdish, but I hate myself for not instantly recognizing this.

post-2-0-13117200-1436406132_thumb.png

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Grrrrr ... I'm in Amazon Prime, and have been humming along - no! - *sailing* through "Parks and Recreation," finishing the end of Season 5 last night. This evening, I tried to pull up Season 6, and they're *charging* me for it.

Sometimes I wonder why I bother to have a Prime membership. Is there anywhere online to find Season 6 for no charge? The video quality on Amazon is outstanding, and I'd miss it if I had to suffer through low-quality "videos of the television" which is what some of the "All In The Family" episodes I've been watching on YouTube are.

And, in a related question, I've also been thwarted trying to find Episode 100 of All In The Family (it's the reminiscent episode with Henry Fonda narrating some of the highlights from the first 99 shows). I can't find it anywhere, at any price, and would be glad to pay to see it. There are a couple *lame* versions on YouTube, but the quality is so poor that they just aren't worth watching.

To summarize:

1) I'm looking for free Season 6 of Parks and Recreation, preferably in high quality. --> Never mind, I found it (sort of - this link probably has viruses).

2) I'm looking for Episode 100 of All In The Family (with Henry Fonda) at any price. --> Never mind, I found it.

If anyone can answer either of these questions, I'd really appreciate it.

And I stand "armed and ready" to engage in lively, spirited discussion, debate, and just plain admiration for both of these shows, at least up until the points that I haven't yet watched (also any-and-all episodes of "Star Trek (TOS)," "Star Trek (TNG)," "The Twilight Zone,"Night Gallery," "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee" (not including the season just released), and the very few episodes of "Seinfeld" that I've seen (now that Hulu has the entire series, I may tackle that as well (note that "tackle that as well" rhymes, sort of, with "Crackle sad as hell" (my God I'm funny (like, perhaps the single funniest person to ever live))))).

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Keep watching.  No matter what you think of the pilot.

Great show............completely different, yet somehow similar to 30 Rock, which I absolutely loved.

Anyhow, Parks and Rec is a gem of a show amongst trite, cliched, recycled "comedy"

Just skip to season 2. Or season 3. It becomes a fantastic show, which would not be known from the pilot.

I agree, this show hits it's stride around season 2 or 3. I watched it regularly for years, and enjoyed it, but I abandoned it a couple of years ago.

Well, it took a little over five months, but I've just finished the entire series (7 seasons, 125 episodes ... whew!)

And I loved it. I'm going to go ahead and continue to complete my mini-reviews (search on ANNOUNCEMENT in my Season 3 post up above - I can't do full-blown reviews; it's too much, but I will complete what I've been doing with All In The Family (and I should add that I'm into Season 6 in that series as well - I'll complete posts for each season as time permits, but it's not my top priority).

I will add that my expectations for the Series Finale were very low, but having watched every single episode leading up to it, I loved it.

If anyone wants to discuss any specific episodes, I stand at the ready.

Two comments about the Series Finale (Season 7, Episodes 124-125, SPOILERS FOLLOW):

1) I *love* Garry's life, but I hate that the characters in the series never matured enough to appreciate this great person for the kind, gentle soul that he was. Nevertheless, he lived the life that he so richly deserved.

2) I love the ambiguity of the three (presumably) Secret Service agents - I watched it twice, and it isn't even clear which person the agent was talking to. That was a stroke of understated brilliance.

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Haven't watched season 7 yet because we've been baby-busy for a while, but for the years before that P&R was the only appointment TV we still watched live. The first season (best forgotten!) notwithstanding, it's the best show that has been on TV for many years. Probably our favorite since the heyday (oh seasons 2 and 3!) of the West Wing. Yes, our government/wonky side probably shows in our TV taste, but we love this story in particular because:

1) It's funny because it's true! Over the top, yes, but anyone who has participated even peripherally in local government and smallish-town life can recognize so many familiar moments throughout the various plotlines.

1a) These people are real. No one is a Mary Sue, everyone has character strengths and flaws, and the people in the audience can always relate to somebody's point of view.

2) These people are good. Snarky and wacky so as to be not boring, but fundamentally nice and caring, with tons of funny thrown in. Cynicism can be fun and interesting but is eventually...wearing. These are people you end up caring about and laughing both at and with them. You usually feel better after an episode ends, and sometimes even exhilarated because the characters are just so. damn. awesome (usually when Leslie pulls off some gift-giving coup. How about Ron in Scotland??!!).

2a) These people are friends. Women friends, men friends, women-men friends. It's hard to find good portrayals of any of these in TV and film, let alone all three. See #2 about this making us care about them.

3) Strong women characters who are not battle axes or sex fiends/Madonnas or other stereotypes. Archetypes, yes, but with other sides of their characters filled in. No cardboard cutouts here!

4) The writers manage to stay on top of pop culture, so it still feels fresh and of the moment.

Anyway, thanks for the reminder, Don. Must sneak in Season 7 while the baby sleeps!

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Anyway, thanks for the reminder, Don. Must sneak in Season 7 while the baby sleeps!

Make sure to watch the entirety of Season 7 before watching the finale - people that told me they were disappointed in the finale hadn't watched Season 7 (which, like Season 6, starts off in the first couple of episodes a bit addled, not knowing where it wants to go, but resolves in the 3rd or 4th episode and gets strong again). You can tell, however, that in Season 7, they were wrapping up the series - they spent the entire season doing so.

PS - I assume you've watched all the earlier seasons ... it's pretty amazing who Garry's wife turns out to be, eh?

Since you've watched the first few seasons, this won't spoil a thing for you (or anyone else who watched them), but I must warn all of you: It's highly cringe-worthy! You've been warned.

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In the "strange but true" world, Retta's (Donna Meagle's) uncle is the President of Liberia. :blink:

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