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TV Review | ‘Parks and Rec’ still going strong

Strong writing and character development fuel season five

Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 07:11

This season of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” has seen some dramatic changes for its main characters. Leslie Knope is now a part of Pawnee’s City Council, the job she spent all last season fighting for, her boyfriend Ben and her friend April are now working far away in the nation’s capital and Andy is humorously trying to become a police officer. The show impressively keeps the characters and their actions constant as they face these new professional and personal challenges.

Pawnee City Council member Leslie Knope is an outstanding citizen, a supportive friend and the perfect protagonist for “Parks and Recreation”. The NBC comedy set in the fictional city of Pawnee, Indiana has been going strong for four years and is currently five episodes into its fifth season. After the giant cliffhanger that was the season four finale, this September saw a significant shift in the show’s overall setup. Without giving too much away, “Parks and Rec” is now dealing with portraying two geographic locations. Character dynamics and interactions have changed in an interesting manner, and important characters are no longer in the same setting. These changes have been slowly developing since the first season, but the single−camera setup has proved successful in making this a natural transition.

“Parks and Rec” is the perfect combination of character development, plot advancement, great comedic timing and reliable weekly entertainment. Each character has his or her own shtick and, despite being a bit over−the−top, they remain likeable and believable in the sitcom world. Ron Swanson, for example, has become an American hero. He is a staunch libertarian who believes that his job as the director of the Parks and Recreation department should not even exist. His weakness for women named “Tammy,” his effeminate giggle and — who can forget? — his glorious moustache help make Mr. Swanson one of the greatest characters in recent sitcom history.

The unintelligent yet kind Andy Dwyer, the preposterous Tom Haverford and health freak Chris Traeger, are but a few other outstanding characters in the “Parks and Rec” cast. This show is also one of the most successful sitcoms since “Arrested Development” (2003−2006) to include an amazing array of guest stars without making it all about them. From the unforgettable Louie C.K. who played a cop very much in love with Leslie, to the improbable Detlef Schrempf who played himself, every guest has moved the plot forward and has left the audience satisfied.

The antics and quirks of each character have made “Parks and Rec” what it is today, but the show would be nowhere near this quality if not for the writing. It is often hard to believe that a mockumentary about the parks and recreation department of a small town in Indiana could have at all been successful, but from the department’s intense adoration of a little pony named ‘Lil Sebastian to its intense hatred of librarians, it is easy to see what makes this show stand out from the rest. It is not even a question of continuous gags and inside jokes; it is about true friendship and human connections ranging from personal relationships to community support.

Leslie Knope, played by the wonderful Amy Poehler, is what truly brings the show together to make it great. She is kind, caring, full of love and quite frankly, everyone should hope to be like her someday. She is also a great representation of a happy and hardworking American woman. Leslie’s love for her job, her never−ending optimism and her unsettling adoration of Joe Biden are but a few of the reasons why she is perfect. Despite her crazy antics and ridiculous storylines, Leslie’s warmth and compassion make the world of “Parks and Rec” a better place.

With quality comedies such as “Modern Family,” “30 Rock” and “Community” dominating television, it can be hard to find a show that truly stands out in this day and age. Still, “Parks and Recreation” succeeds as a heartfelt and hilarious look into the lives of people that you actually care about. I mean, where else can you find all of life’s lessons paired with woodworking, waffles and Jean−Ralphio?

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