Parks and Recreation is on a hot streak! Greg Daniels has crafted a show that lies at an intersection between the blatantly absurd and the awkwardly surreal. The addition of Chris (Rob Lowe) and Ben (Adam Scott) in season 2 have only added to an already dynamic cast. Season 4 is delivering the same awesome punches as the last, and has a little of everything, for everyone.
To promote her new political campaign, Leslie (Amy Poehler) decides to publish a new book, entitled “Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America.” A tad hyperbolic, but overly through, the book reflects the ambitious personality that Leslie represents. As she states over and over (and over), she loves the town of Pawnee, the town she was born in. Local journalist Joan can really put her book on the map by making it part of her town-famous book club, but she has an anonymous tip that Leslie may not have, in fact, been born in Pawnee.
Ben and Tom desperately try to change Joan’s mind. Once again, the two show that they are among the most energizing pair, swapping insults and underhanded jabs while attempting to manipulate Joan into approving Leslie’s book. Leslie, Andy and Chris team up to go to Eagleton to pull up Leslie’s real birth certificate. Their discovery leads to an awful secret that even Leslie herself doesn’t know.
Ann, Ron, April (and somewhere in the country, Jerry) are put in charge of fact checking Leslie’s book. Ron and April are perfectly comfortable sitting in silence and doing their job, but Ann makes it her mission to engage them both in some amicable small talk. Ron remains as aloof as April is agressive, but Ann is determined to cut through.
The episode features some hilarious and unusual pairings the show has made its center. The way Tom provokes Ben is probably the strangest, though their collision of personalities is awe-inspiring. Ben rambles about the merits of nerd culture, even as Tom berates him for it. Andy also shines in this episode, assuming the alter-ego, Bert Macklin, an FBI agent who “you thought was dead…so did the President…s enemies.” Off to the side a bit is maybe the most understated pairing that the show has been developing: the surprisingly endearing father-daughter relationship growing between Ron and April. Ron teaches her a few new tricks (including how to dissuade someone from being too “chummy”) and she responds brilliantly, like the daughter he never had.
In its third season, Parks and Recreation is evermore fresh. The inclusion of Ann, I must say, was a tad awkward as she is being pushed more and more into the periphery of the show. Still, she was necessary as a surface for Ron and April to bounce off of, so writers, you are forgiven. Leslie’s political aspirations are giving us new access into her overly spirited, naive mind. She proves once again that she’s smarter then she sometimes acts, and is always willing to turn a clever trick. I must admit, when the show first premiered I was a bit skeptical. I wrote it off as a copycat Office and paid little attention to it. In its third season, Parks and Recreation is doing things The Office never dreamed of. I can’t wait to see what’s in store. It’s great to see the little guy growing up,all at once comical, tragic and wholly entertaining.