A quick review of tonight’s “Parks and Recreation” coming up just as soon as I have a picture of Patrick Ewing on a rollercoaster…
Last week, “Parks” returned with a fantastic premiere demonstrating just how much life could be left in the show even in its sixth season. “The Pawnee-Eagleton Tip-Off Classic,” unfortunately, mainly served as a reminder of how hard it is to do an episode as good as “London” this late in the run.
All three stories felt like rehashes of things the show has done before, often on several occasions, and always better the previous times.
The unwavering contempt between Pawnee and Eagleton is well-established, and has led to very good episodes like season 3’s “Eagleton.” Here, though, it felt like a familiar joke pushed too far, particularly in Leslie’s smug attitude towards the Eagletonians. Yes, the whole episode is about Leslie putting aside one of her prejudices to do the right thing, because Leslie Knope is a person who does the right thing, but this was just too much of Leslie in a juvenile mode, and as a result she didn’t give Kristen Bell enough to play off of as Ingrid. Some of the jokes on the margins about the ways Eagleton has wound up in this dire financial crisis were amusing (and also the presence of Chris Bosh as one of the basketball game’s ringers), but I was waiting for half the episode for Ben to give her the lecture that waited almost until the end.
Similarly, while Ron Swanson vs. modern technology – and/or versus our society’s increasing lack of privacy – have been terrific wellsprings of humor in the past, his attempt to get off the grid felt too much like a slightly-inverted version of the subplot from last season’s “Sex Education” where Ron tried to help Tom curb his addiction to screens.
April and Ann’s trip to Bloomington was the episode’s least repetitive story, but it was mainly setting up things for down the road, including the idea that Bloomington is where Ann and Chris may end up when Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe leave at mid-season, and leaving April in flux while the show waits for Chris Pratt to get back from superhero duty.
The idea of Pawnee reabsorbing Eagleton could pay off interestingly down the road, but the start of the arc was pretty forgettable.
What did everybody else think?