Monday, May 14, 2012

Parks and Recreation election results are in!

NBC's Parks and Recreation has had a heck of a spring, as the characters work tirelessly to help Leslie (Amy Poehler) campaign for Pawnee City Council. It all comes down to this riveting series finale, as Pawnee citzens vote, and a winner is declared. Yep, it's Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd). But not so fast! A recount is triggered, and when the smoke clears, Leslie is, in fact, the ultimate victor!

It's kind of hard to believe that "Win, Lose, or Draw" finds Leslie making a career advancement. The city council members have played very little role in Parks and Recreation thus far, so it's not exactly a natural move within the confines of the show. However, considering Leslie's background and loyalty, it will not be surprising if Leslie makes the Parks Department a priority for the council, which would bring her into the circle of the rest of the characters on a regular basis.

There are also some gaps that are going to need filled. For one, Chris (Rob Lowe) needs to pick a new second in command, since Ron (Nick Offerman) turns down the job. This isn't entirely unexpected, given Ron's penchant to try to keep things as static as possible. He is already going to have to deal with replacing Leslie as his number two. He doesn't want to move offices and actually take on responsibility, too!

Who would be an appropriate successor for Leslie? April (Aubrey Plaza) seems a logical choice. She pretends not to care, but her character has proven her worth many times over. She would make a very different leader of the Parks Department than Leslie has been, but it could be an interesting change. If that is the way Parks and Recreation chooses to go, then April will still need to be replaced, too, leaving room for a new character.

Andy (Chris Pratt) considers a change in "Win, Lose, or Draw," too. While comforting April for the colossal mistake she makes, it comes out that Andy would like to be in law enforcement. Becoming a cop might be a dream too far for the lovable dolt, though maybe not, given some small towns' low standards. However, he could at least become a security guard, albeit a bumbling, ineffective one.

Ben (Adam Scott) also contemplates a move, deciding, with Leslie's encouragement, to accept a job working on a campaign with Jennifer (Kathryn Hahn, who could continue to recur since Free Agents was canceled) in Washington D.C. This is a big step, as Leslie and Ben's careers just happen to be taking off at the same time, in opposing directions. If Ben does well, what's to keep him from staying in the nation's capital, instead of returning home to Leslie? Ben would not be the first boyfriend Leslie has lost to an out-of-town job. But their romance is so sweet. Too bad Leslie is years away from running for national office. Perhaps in the final season...

Ann (Rashida Jones) resists Tom's (Aziz Ansari) attempts to get back together with her in "Win, Lose, or Draw." That is, until she gets drunk and agrees to move in with him. Despite Tom's declaration of no take backs when she sobers up, is there any chance that this will stick? Their romance has been weird from day one, and only gets odder as it continues. Ann is great as Leslie's best friend, but as that is a small, unimportant role, her character is continually beefed up with subplots. Unfortunately, the perfect story has not yet been found for her.

"Win, Lose, or Draw," besides foreshadowing many changes for Parks and Recreation going forward, is also highly amusing. Chris and Jennifer have lots of sex. Jerry (Jim O'Heir) loses track of time and forgets to vote for Leslie. Donna (Retta) fixes April's big disaster in three seconds flat. Chris wisely denies Jean-Ralphio (Ben Schwartz) a job. And Bobby not only doesn't understand the joke he makes when he declares publicly that he is voting for Leslie, he also needs Leslie's help to operate the voting booth equipment.

Parks and Recreation continues to be funny and sweet; realistic and full of dreams. Does anyone really believe Ben didn't write Leslie a concession speech? Probably not. But it's a drama-y sitcom about a group of people striving for the lives the want, and willing to work hard to get them, with a few laughs along the way. The evolution coming next season will only further enhance the world created here, and the show should have no problem continuing for years to come. As the only NBC Thursday night sitcom to get a full season order next year, at least so far (aging The Office has yet to be picked up), it'll have to continue to bring its A game, being the network lineup staple for the time being.

A final note. These past few weeks, extended versions of Parks and Recreation have been available online. I highly recommend checking out these, on average, five minutes longer episodes, as they give more jokes to the delightful supporting cast, who deserve the extra screen time. Hopefully, this trend will continue next year.

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