…and Parks and Recreation is back!

I know what you’re thinking: ‘Don’t jinx it, you idiot!’ I may very well have jinxed it. But we’re going to have to wait until January to see if that happens. Until then, let’s all bask in the glow of Parks and Recreation’s first truly successful episode in about two months.

I’m not going to pretend that I’ve taken a popular stance towards this season of Parks and Rec. General feelings of ambivalence towards a lot of this season have been expressed by others as well, but that’s hardly been the majority viewpoint. In any case, I just want to make it clear that I haven’t actually disliked any season 4 episodes, except for maybe “Smallest Park.” The show just hasn’t really been working for me, as I explained last week.

In some ways, that’s worse than actively disliking a show. When Community and White Collar went off the rails, I could at least have fun trashing them in scathing reviews. But my affection for Parks and Rec runs deep. Slamming on it gives me no joy. You know that awful feeling you used to get when your parents told you, “I’m not angry; I’m just disappointed in you?” That’s the same feeling I get when I’m disappointed in Parks and Rec. I’m glad I have a full life outside of television, because carrying that feeling for two months while the show consistently failed to live up to my expectations would have been awful.

I know it seems strange to start off what you’ve probably guessed by now will be a positive review with so much negativity. But I wanted to provide some context for my feelings towards the show right now, because I honestly, genuinely loved “Citizen Knope” – maybe not as much as “Born & Raised” or “Pawnee Rangers,” but that’s not important. It’s likely that I’m just so relieved that “Citizen Knope” was a good episode that I’m projecting a level of quality onto it that it didn’t achieve. But you know what? I don’t care. I’m not in a hyper-critical mood today. Sorry.

Perhaps I’m just giddy from eating too much sugar – or salgar! – because I laughed a lot during “Citizen Knope,” at everything from Leslie’s hyper-enthusiastic “PCP” group to the reappearance of Boring Accountant Guy. (I’m sure he has a name, but it’s probably a boring one.) Leslie’s various gifts to her colleagues got some chuckles out of me, especially Tom’s customized stopwatch, and for some inexplicable reason, I found Leslie’s tiny campaign menorah hilarious. And, last but not least, Jean-Ralphio. ‘Nuff said.

But it wasn’t all just laughs. “Citizen Knope” was structured in such a way as to make the subplots mesh cohesively, which the show has often had trouble doing this season. Everything tied back to Leslie’s temporary suspension and her absence from the parks department, not just thematically, but also logically. There was also a continuation of things that happened last week. We saw how Leslie’s campaign was affected by the scandal, and how Ben dealt with being unemployed.

That was all well and good, but there was more to “Citizen Knope’s” success than that. In its best moments, Parks and Rec achieves what few other sitcoms do: it feels genuine. Leslie’s sense of helplessness at being suspended felt genuine. Ben’s discomfort towards taking a job that just didn’t feel right felt genuine. Ron wanting to give Leslie the perfect gift felt genuine. Leslie’s hurt at finding out that her campaign had tanked felt genuine. And her colleagues rallying around her to prop her campaign back up felt genuine.

Of course, I don’t think that campaigns for seats on city council are supposed to last this long, and I’m pretty sure there’s some sort of conflict of interest in using one’s colleagues as one’s campaign staff. So this plot development doesn’t make much sense, but…

…screw it. Back to my happy place. To be frank, I haven’t run out of praise, but I’ve got some other work to do, so I’m just going to cut this review short. I’m just glad – nay, ecstatic – to have Parks and Rec back in fine form.

Other random thoughts:

  • “Ann” was one of the biggest words on Leslie’s e-mail word mural. It was even bigger than “Ben.” Femslash away, folks! In this case, I actually approve. *evil grin*
  • Lord knows why Jean-Ralpho gets his anus waxed.
  • I still think the writers have written Andy about five shades too dumb this season, but I found the sight of silver spray paint on his lips hilarious nonetheless.
  • From the painting that Leslie gave her, I get the sense that April hates will.i.am more than she hates Fergie. Discuss.
  • No Parks and Rec until January. *sad face*

Even if season 4 hasn’t been as successful as I would have liked, “Citizen Knope” was a fine way to lead into the holidays, and for the first time in weeks, I’m genuinely excited for the show. Yay! Now let’s hope I didn’t jinx it.

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