May 23, 2013

[TV] Parks and Recreation: Season 4

This fourth season of Parks and Recreation is defined by one key event - our dear Leslie Knope running for the position of City Counselor. And while you may think this is a rather small political move for a small town girl like her, but given her overall dreams of pursuing public office, this is a groundbreaking step. This is the story arc where Leslie tries to elevate herself beyond just being a public servant as an employee of the the Pawnee Parks Department and really become an elected official.

And this journey is not one that she takes alone - naturally we have the rest of the crazy gang that make up the Pawnee Parks and Recreation Department. And how their individual quirks, little obsessions and of course their respective relationship stories pan makes for one great season of entertainment.

I've spoken many times about how much I've come to enjoy this show over the years. And while it doesn't quite have that endearing quality that we've seen in its television cousin, The Office, the show still has heart and a lot of great laughs to be enjoyed.

Synopsis: Parks and Recreation is a mockumentary sitcom created by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur for NBC. The show has received multiple nominations and awards and was cited as the number one television series for 2012 by TIME Magazine.

The third season had ended with Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) being approached by political scouts who believed that her work on the Pawnee Harvest Festival demonstrated her potential for pursuing public office. And while the prospects of taking this first step towards the Presidency are certainly exciting (and we can't fault her for dreaming big), she also knows that her relationship with the Assistant City Manager Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) will become a scandal and thus a problem for her campaign. Thus she now needs to consider breaking up with Ben before making the big announcement regarding her candidacy.

At the same time, the other characters have their share of issues. Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman), Director of the department, is facing the return of his first ex-wife Tammy (Patricia Clarkson), not to be confused with his second ex-wife Tammy (Megan Mullally). And unfortunately Tammy I works for the IRS. Tom (Aziz Ansari) is pursuing his dream of working in his own events management company, but he and his business partner Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz) appear to have no real clue as to what they're doing and it looks like they're bound to run their company into the ground.

One of the more interesting decisions for this season apart from Leslie's campaign involves the relationship complexities thrown Chris Traeger's (Rob Lowe) way. Longtime viewers of the show know him to be an almost impossibly optimistic and health-obsessed individual. And this season they decided to explore just how much they could throw his way in order to make him depressed. We all know it didn't work out between him and Ann (Rashida Jones), and this season has him going from relationship to relationship in a rather bad way. Yes, Rob Lowe looks amazing for his age and this character is just brilliantly suited for him for some reason. Maybe it's because he once played Prince Charming, in a way.

I love how the character of Ben has grown into the prefect spoil for Leslie. It's not like he doesn't like government work - his entire life story seems to be defined by public office and government work. But he has a somewhat more jaded or practical view of the world versus Leslie's mile-a-minute enthusiasm. And how their distinct personalities managed to come together into an amazing couple are a little beyond me - they just work, and I'm not at all complaining about that.

This season has far too many fun episodes for me to spend more time citing why I think one or the other is great. I mean come one, just go through the ideas of the terrors of Tammy I, Pawnee's smallest park, the end of the world and Andy (Chris Pratt) taking a course at the community college. And who can ever forget Leslie Knope and her retinue trying to walk across an ice skating rink in regular shoes? Absolutely priceless!

Parks and Recreation is certainly a witty, intelligent sitcom that will help me get through these post-Office times. Admittedly it may not be for everyone right off the bat, but it is always worth the investment of time in order for you to understand what makes this such a brilliantly hilarious show. This fourth season is one that I can happily rate as 5 Leslie campaign goofs out of a possible 5.

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