Parks and Recreation Recap: Running for Office

This time last year, Parks and Recreation was nowhere to be found on NBC’s fall schedule, banished to mid-season purgatory for a crime it did not commit. But now — with 30 Rock pushed until early next year to accommodate Tina Fey’s pregnancy; The Office entering its unsure post-Carell, Spader-centric future full-on; and Whitney being Whitney — the show, now the co-anchor of NBC’s Should Probably See TV comedy bloc alongside Community, finds itself in a wholly unfamiliar position: front-runner. If last week’s Emmy snubbing proved anything — although, really, the Emmys never prove anything — it’s that the show can ably fill that role while still feeling very much like an underdog, a beloved cult-classic curio that also just happens to have millions of viewers a week.

This is not to say that the season-four premiere showed any signs of added burden from its newfound eminent stature. The episode picks up right where the finale left off, with Leslie entertaining the offer to run for office that will necessitate breaking up with Ben and an eyebrow-less Ron fleeing from Tammy One with his emergency satchel, instructing Leslie to keep an eye on the ground chuck left in his desk. Tom is back in the office dispensing copious Entertainment 720 merch, the most promising of which is either the Tom and Jean-Ralphio bikini top or the black-on-black debt-erasing magnetic business card, and he tries to hire Andy. ("I’m just now getting really good at shoe-shining, and I’m still pretty bad at it.")

As network sitcoms go, Parks has a light touch, so when it attempts to navigate the more-depressing-than-fiction world that is actual American politics, as a show about civil servants inevitably must, it does so with relative subtlety. Of course, there’s no subtle way to handle Anthony Weiner, so none is attempted; after Sarah Lawrence alum Joe in sanitation e-mails all the women in City Hall a photo of his perhaps mumps-affected junk, all the male government employees send Ann pictures of their testicles — really, the ears of the genital system — for her diagnosis, or, if she chooses, enjoyment. Read More...


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