Nov 28, 2016

[TV] Parks and Recreation: Season 7

The final season of Parks and Recreation was definitely not what I had expected for a way to wrap things up. Sure you always want stories to somehow reach a climax at this point and the various character arcs get wrapped up and presented in a manner that works for them. That's what anyone would typically expect from a series that's able to write an ending for itself.

But that was my mistake - thinking that the show would go down the path of any other typical sitcom. This is Parks and Recreation after all and while they weren't quite as obviously experimental as shows like Community, they certainly had their share of clever writing defining the direction off the series.

But the big twist at the end of Season 6 leading directly into Season 7 was quite the doozy. And the resulting story wasn't just a one-off thing or a novelty but the main plot for this entire season. As much as this season was shorter than the others before it, it still felt quite fulfilling and it made for a great end to an amazing series.

Synopsis: Parks and Recreation was an American political comedy series created by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur. It goes without saying the series won quite a number of awards during its 7-year run.

It is three years into the future and Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) is now Midwest Regional Director of the National Parks service with April (Aubrey Plaza) and Andy (Chris Pratt) as part of her staff. And it seems that she and Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) have had some sort of a major falling out over the past 2 years and there has been no luck at reconciling them. On a side note, Jerry/Larry (Jim O'Heir) also works for Leslie but his office nickname is Terry while Ben (Adam Scott) is still City Manager.

The core conflict is focused around property that the wealthy Newport family owns that Leslie hopes to turn into a national park while Ron works with the now Pawnee-based tech company Gryzzl in trying to acquire the same land. How the two deal with their opposing interests also forces them to deal with their few - something that relates to an incident only known as "Morningstar" - but of course it takes a good number of episodes before we find out what happened there.

What I Liked: This is probably the most character-focused season of Parks and Recreation ever. This could have been just a funny jump forward into the future with a focus on some crazy story,but instead they kept things very personal with the conflict between Leslie and Ron as the central piece really hitting where it hurt the most. They were the pillars of this little TV family of a sort and to find them already in a personal cold war was pretty shocking indeed.

The series at times felt like an extended epilogue where normally you'd just see a quick clip of the character along with some text. In this final season we got to see them act out how they've changed in a more gradual discovery process. And then we had the characters need to come together to figure out how to really fix things. And that's where the show shines, when everyone does their part and makes a good story together.

What Could Have Been Better: I think I'm sad about how some former series regulars could only come back on a guest star / cameo basis. This is a minor quibble and I understand that careers change and people move on to other projects, but it just felt sad. Plus given how the narrative in this season was delightfully character-driven, it seems a shame that folks had left the regular crew last season just before all this great stuff.

TL;DR: Pars and Recreation was a great show and I'm glad that they managed to go out with a rather creative season concept like this one. It was rather left field and sometimes quirkier than it probably  should have been but in the end it was classic Parks and Rec. Thus the final season gets a great 5 ridiculously advanced Gryzzl creations out of a possible 5.

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