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Saturday, December 10, 2011

"Citizen Knope" demands satisfaction from Parks and Recreation

     "Citizen Knope" is the aftermath of the trial last week's Parks and Recreation on NBC, which finds Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) suspended for her relationship with Ben (Adam Scott). Leslie cannot relax and enjoy her (paid) time off, and gets even more frustrated when her campaign staff quits due to low poll numbers. So she forms PCP, a political action committee, and seeks funding for Pawnee's parks as a private citizen. Chris (Rob Lowe) soon grows tired of the annoyance, and gets Leslie reinstated. As this goes on, Ben looks for a new job after his resignation in disgrace, and realizes he wants to try something fun, rather than take another boring accountant position.

     "Citizen Knope" is unbelievably hilarious. From Ben interviewing to be an accountant to an accounting firm, to Jean-Ralphio's (Ben Schwartz) return, to April's (Aubrey Plaza) Marshmellow Ron Swanson, there are plenty of great jokes. It's hard not to crack up when Andy (Chris Pratt) eats Donna's (Retta) silver-painted M&Ms, and Ann (Rashida Jones) has to tell him to throw up. Jerry (Jim O'Heir) is delighted to recieve socks for Christmas. Tom (Aziz Ansari) makes a word cloud from Leslie's e-mails. A great Easter egg is when The Guild's Robin Thorsen pops up in a too-small role as a mother who ignores her children in favor of her passions. Sound familiar, Guildies?

     But this week's Parks and Recreation also an emotional triumph. Leslie gives the perfect gifts to each member of the staff, as well as Chris. Ron (Nick Offerman) decides everyone must pull together to come up with something to give Leslie worthy of her, a high bar indeed. He suggests a model of the Parks Department that he can build, and Ann takes it a step further, wanting the structure made out of gingerbread. Ron reluctantly consents, but can't build it, so Andy takes over. Everyone contributes, and it becomes a very sweet (pun intended) present that Leslie really enjoys.

     Even more moving, though, the staff pledges to run Leslie's campaign. All of the things that she has done for them over the years has made them all adore her as much as viewing audiences, and they willingly give up their free time to help run a sinking ship. Leslie is choked up, and those at home should be too, especially as Ron announces his new job title, "Any Other Damn Thing You Need." It is a display of just how Leslie impacts lives, and the good that she does. Despite overwhelming odds against her (for now), it seems certain that Leslie is destined to win her office. Which would fundamentally change Parks and Recreation. But growth can be a good thing, and it would not mean her leaving the series, so there's really no argument against it.

     Chris does seem to feel a little guilty for getting Leslie suspended. Much of last week's trial on Parks and Recreation is very clearly Chris reacting because he feels personally betrayed. He is upset that Ben and Leslie are not up front with him about their relationship for a very long time. It's understandable, but then, so are the reasons that they keep things a secret. However, with a little time to get used to the idea, and Ben removing himself as a factor at the office, which must also hurt, as he works closely with Chris, Chris begins to come around. It isn't clear in "Citizen Knope," but it looks like Chris gets the suspension lifted early. He realizes Leslie is a very valuable person and should not be so severely punished, as suspension is for her, for such a small mistake.

    Parks and Recreation, one of the best sitcoms currently running, will retun to NBC in January.

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