Of the four NBC sitcoms on last night, I got the most pleasure from Parks and Recreation. It's a measure of just how terrific P&R has become that even when it breaks its format with a mostly-outdoors episode, it still moves its ongoing story lines along briskly and provides a constant stream - a babbling brook, in Leslie Knopes' case - of laughs.
The core plot was about Leslie's efforts to make this year's Pawnee Parks summer catalog the best ever. Over-planning as usual, she organized a pep-rally-ish picnic that would include former heads of the parks department. They turned out to be as surly and cynical as Leslie is chipper and optimistic. (And included Family Ties' Michael Gross as a gasbag pot-head - hey, kinda like what Stephen Keaton probably would have become!)
The rich texture of the characters in this show was on full display here. Amy Poehler can now show us Leslie's stern, disapproving side as well as her dopey one (sometimes combining both, as in her prissy neologism, 'We really made love to the pooch today, Ron').
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